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by George Skentzos

Saab today launched the new 9-3, which is the first range of vehicles in Australia to offer driver’s the choice of either renewable bioethanol, economical diesel or petrol powered engines.

Last year Saab become the first manufacturer in Australia to offer the renewable bioethanol powered car with the Saab 9-5 BioPower.

The new 9-3 range will add three more E85 flex-fuel models to Saab’s eco-friendly line-up with the 9-3 BioPower Sport Sedan, SportCombi and the iconic Saab Convertible – representing only a $1,000 premium over their petrol counterparts.

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In conjunction with the 9-3 BioPower range, United Petroleum – Australia’s largest independent fuel retailer – has announced plans to install Australia’s first commercial E85 fuel pumps in both Sydney and Melbourne.

“With the launch of BioPower, Saab set out to break the chicken and egg cycle that prevented Australian drivers from choosing a renewable fuel alternative,” Director GM Premium Brands, Parveen Batish

The Saab 9-3 BioPower has the ability to run on E85 – a mix of 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent petrol – but crucially may also run on standard petrol in any combination from one fuel tank.

“Saab took the first leap and United Petroleum is taking the same bold leadership position with its commitment to make E85 commercially available to flex-fuel car drivers.”

The average diesel engine will emit between 120-130 grams of CO2 per kilometre, the new 9-3 BioPower emits just 40 grams whilst retaining performance.

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BioPower combines turbo charging with the use of E85 fuel to deliver increased engine power and performance, the BioPower 2.0t delivers peak power of 147kW and 300Nm of maximum torque on E85. This represents an additional 18kW and 35Nm over the 2.0-litre turbo petrol variant.

Saab’s distinctive new styling of the 9-3 Sport Sedan, SportCombi and Convertible, is inspired by the award winning Aero X concept car combining to present a clearer Saab identity and a bolder, more assertive stance.

The new look Saab signature ‘clamshell’ hood design incorporates a sweeping, U-shaped styling line, as first seen on the Aero X, which echoes the curvature of the windshield.

Two new colours are added to the range, including a Snow Silver metallic paint finish similar to that seen on the Aero X, with an 18-inch wheel design now offered as an option on all variants.

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As well as adding a BioPower model to the Saab line-up in Australia, the new 9-3 range will also introduce all-wheel drive and new performance diesel models in 2008.

From February, TTiD, an innovative 132kW, two-stage 1.9 litre performance turbo diesel will be available, joined by the exciting new limited edition Turbo X, all-wheel drive performance car in June.

The diesel range in centered around the new 1.9 TTiD engine with a unique two-stage turbo charging system, producing 32 kW and 400Nm (manual only) of maximum torque, with combined fuel consumption of 5.9 l/100km projected for the Sport Sedan.

The two-stage charging process incorporates two turbochargers of different sizes which are sequentially mounted and each is able to by-pass the input and output feeds of the other, while also being able to operate in tandem.

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Recognizing its performance aspects, the TTiD engine will only be available in Aero specifications, with other models receiving the current 110 kW 1.9 TiD engines, with a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions.

Saab’s headlining performance Turbo X model reads more like the spec sheet of the Impreza’s of late, featuring an action all-wheel-drive system designed to optimise handling and stability in all driving conditions an an up-rated 206kW, 2.8V6 Turbo engine which delivers almost 15 per cent more maximum torque to 400Nm to exploit the greater traction available.

The Turbo X comes with a choice of either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Steering-linked bulbs can swivel the bi-xenon headlights up to 15 degrees when negotiating a bend or corner above 15km/h while at highways speeds, the low beam is also automatically raised slightly for improved illumination.

Preliminary performance figures of 0-100km/h in 5.7 seconds have been recorded for the manual version.

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Customers will have the choice between the Linear and Vector models with the petrol, flex-fuel or diesel engine combination of their choice.

The new 9-3 Aero includes a premium Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound audio system which offers exceptional reproduction quality through five channels from CD, MP3 and other audio sources through either 11 (Sedan) or 10 (Combi) speakers.

Pricing begins at $43,400 for the Linear 2.0t manual, with the entry-level BioPower Linear 2.0t adding $1,000 to this price tag.






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