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2008 Saab 9-3

2008 Saab 9-3

Acura TL

Jaguar XJ

Audi A5/S5

Liocoln MKZ

BMW 5 Series

Mercedes-Benz C Class

Cadillac CTS

Saab 9-3

Infiniti M35/M45

Volvo S80


If you put yourself forth with big intentions, it's probably a good thing to announce it in a big way. Enter the redesigned 2008 Saab 9-3 luxury auto from Sweden, part of General Motors' stable.

2008 Lincoln MKZ Interior
2008 Saab 9-3 Interior

Styling for 2008 is noticeably different right up front — with a larger, more aggressive nose that adopts the look of the earlier, bolder Aero X concept car. Headlamps sweep back into the fender area. Changes for 2008 include the addition of all-wheel-drive and boosted engine power.

Saab is the upscale auto with a traditional following of enthusiasts, including many who might be considered intelligentsia elite such as college professors. Now in three versions, the newest Saab 9-3 version styling expands on some of the auto's traditional design themes they covet, such as clamshell hood that extends over the front fender area, and the flat front instrument panel reminiscent of an airplane's. It's not a stretch as to why, however, considering the auto maker's roots in the aircraft industry. Front design elements suggest the air intakes on a jet engine.

As before, the new 9-3 comes in three turbo-charged configurations: Sedan, convertible and oddly-named SportCombi or wagon. Saab's new all-wheel-drive system gets its  own unusual name, the Cross Wheel Drive with the designation "XWD." It is limited to the "uprated" 280-HP V-6 turbo with six-speed manual or automatic. A 210-HP, 2.0-T inline four is standard.

Saab sports passive rear wheel steer to prevent loss of control in "understeer" situations. Inside are improved active head restraints.
An aluminum hood helps reduce weight which helps mileage (19 city/29 highway mpg for six-speed manual using premium fuel). The Aero V-6 takes off at $35,365, with base pricing ranging from top $20K to mid $49K (convertible).

A few special edition Turbo X versions, in Jet Black only, will be available for purists for 2008. And other purist elements remain. The ignition switch still is located near the handbrake lever. Windshield washers are high pressure, just like aircraft. And, unlike many other autos, for cruising without distraction, all gauge lights but speedometer can be turned off for isolated night driving.