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Average User Score
4.4 ⁄ 5 stars
Based on 34 reviews
2003 Saab 9-3 Overview
Overall User Score
Based on 34 reviews
The Saab 9-3 was completely overhauled for 2003, as the GM-owned Swedish automaker unveiled an entirely new build platform and body styles, updated power plants, and a fully redesigned interior. The trim levels were also renamed, and the number of 9-3 variants was reduced from five to four.
The 9-3 SE Convertible is the only familiar name in the 2003 lineup, and it is only only available version of the convertible body. The coupe has been discontinued entirely. The five-door hatchback body has been replaced with a true four-door sedan, which is offered in three trim levels. The base model is called the Linear, followed by the mid-level Arc and the top tier Vector.
The 2.0 liter inline four returns as the foundation for the 9-3's turbocharged power plants, but two new variations of this engine are less powerful than before. The Linear's 2.0 delivers 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, while the 2.0 liter unit in both the Arc and Vector models supplies 210 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. The SE Convertible houses the same 205 horsepower engine. The convertible and the Linear sedan come standard with a five-speed manual transmission, and the four-speed automatic is still optional on the SE. The Arc and Vector get a six-speed manual. All sedans are eligible for a new five-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is estimated at 22/31 for the sedans and 22/32 mpg for the SE Convertible.
Unfortunately, according to owners, the total redesign did not address the 9-3's questionable reliability and poor ergonomics. Reviewers noted that the interior was significantly modernized, but the poorly designed dash-mounted cup holders remained. Drivers described them as useless, flimsy and poorly placed. Owners also warned about frequent maintenance. Common issues included excessive brake wear, radiator and transmission problems and a variety of nagging electrical issues. However, others have added that the 9-3 is quite powerful for a car that achieves 30+ mpg gas mileage, and despite some continued turbo lag, the 9-3 is regarded as fun to drive.
What's your take on the 2003 Saab 9-3?
Saab 9-3 Questions
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