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2004 Model Guide - Every Brand, Every Car


2004 Saab Model GuideSaab of Sweden is the automotive company steeped in the production of cars that look and act differently from ordinary vehicles. But change is coming to Saab, now grouped under the corporate umbrella of General Motors, with new lines of new cars featuring contemporary body styling, sophisticated structures and high-tech engine performance.

Saab enters the 2004 car class with two different series of luxury and performance cars but promises to deliver a third entirely new model before the model-year ends.

The two returning Saab lines - each with numeric designations, turbo-charged engines and extensive on-board equipment promoting safe motoring - are the mid-size 9-5 flagship sedan and SportWagon variation, and the compact-class 9-3 series. Last year Saab moved the 9-3 upscale to the premium compact sport sedan class with a fresh design that replaced Saab's traditional hatchback styling with the shape of a conventional notchback sedan.

Three new themes came with the interior decor of 9-3 as Linear, Arc and Vector, the latter with a sporty flair. This year, a luxurious convertible edition of 9-3 emerges to join the sports sedans with two engine options and power motivation for the pop-top conversion that reduces the movement to a one-button, one-touch operation.

Saab's 9-5 cars were restyled and repackaged in 2002 under themes of Linear, Arc and Aero, with Linear as the standard, Arc for luxurious touring and Aero tipped toward performance. For 2004 Linear is reserved exclusively for the SportWagon while Arc sedan and SportWagon show sporty new body elements plus a new turbo engine.

By the spring of 2004, Saab will have a third line with a new subcompact-class car called, appropriately, 9-2. Conformed as a five-door hatchback, the 9-2 will become Saab's entry-level product while packaged as a fun-to-drive vehicle with a sophisticated all-wheel-drive (AWD) system and optional turbo engine.

Saab 9-3
2004 Saab 9-3

The 9-3 series of compact-class cars, representing the largest product development program in the history of Saab, begins with the Epsilon platform employed for various products of General Motors.

It features a long wheelbase and wide track with world-class chassis dynamics and superior handling traits. First to emerge for what will become a family of models, the four-door 9-3 sport sedan rolled out in 2003 revealing the sleek wedge-shaped silhouette of a racy coupe with windswept lines and wheels pushed to corners with little overhang apparent.

For 2004, three versions of the sports sedan return with revamped wheel packages and new paint choices. But the line expands to encompass a new open-top premium convertible in two trims. Actually, Saab developed the convertible 9-3 concurrently with the sedan so there are shared features like chassis and powertrains, although the drop-top was fortified with a ring of steel around the cabin to unify its structure and maintain rigidity in the absence of a roof.

Added safety elements for the convertible include front buckets with seatbelts integrated into the seat frames, two-stage side-impact air bags large enough to shield torso and head, and Saab's active head restraints that help counter the painful whiplash effect during a rear-end impact. Then a new DynaCage concept goes to work in the event of a roll-over incident with pop-up roll bars concealed at the rear of the cabin, front seatbelt pre-tensioners and reinforcements built into the windshield pillars.

Saab 9-3 as a sports sedan offers a choice of two aluminum engines, each a 2.0-liter four-in-line design with dual overhead cams and a turbo-charger tacked on to boost the muscle while still economizing on fuel.

The base 9-3 Linear sedan draws from a version rated at 175 hp with five-speed manual shifter. Two other sedans (Arc and Aero) as well as the convertible's two trims (also Arc and Aero) get the more powerful plant for 210 hp.

With Arc trim a five-speed manual is stock but for Aero a six-speed manual applies. A five-speed automatic is optional for all, as is Saab's Sentronic manual shift mode with shifter tabs pinned to the steering wheel.

Saab 9-5
2004 Saab 9-5

Saab's mid-size cars in the flagship series include a luxurious sedan and the SportWagon with elegant appointments aboard and performance gear on the top edition.

The SportWagon for 2004 appears in Linear and Arc trims, while 9-5 as a sedan is available in Arc and Aero issues. The SportWagon Linear has soft leather upholstery, heated front seats and twin automatic climate zones. It also carries more standard mechanical assets now, such as an anti-lock brake system (ABS), electronic traction control (TCS) and Saab's electronic stability program (ESP).

Arc editions get standard perforated leather with ventilated front seats and heaters in front and back plus five-spoke 16-inch BBS wheels. Aero brings the look of metal surrounding the instrument panel and has bolstered sport bucket seats, standard front and rear heated seats and ten-spoke 17-inch BBS wheels.

The engine for 9-5 Aero - a high-output turbo-charged 2.3-liter four-cylinder plant - pushes 250 hp and comes with either a manual five-speed or the automatic Sentronic five-speed with control tabs on the steering wheel for thumb and finger shifting.

9-5 SportWagon Linear stocks a 2.3-liter light-pressure turbo four that achieves 185 hp with standard manual shifter or optional automatic. 9-5 Arc has a new powertrain in 2004, thanks to the Saab 2.3-liter turbo scored up to 220 hp and mated to the manual or automatic shifter.

Saab 9-2
2004 Saab 9-2

Saab reserves the newest model in the line for a late introduction next spring. Think of it as small in scale with a hatchback design, stick-like-glue AWD traction and optional turbo power. The next Saab will actually come together in Japan, rather than Sweden, due to a collaboration with Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (Fuji) and its automotive division, Subaru.

Expect two versions. The entry issue 9-2 will have a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine out of Subaru, while 9-2 Aero fires up Saab's 2.0-liter turbo four.