Known as the 9-3 SportCombi in other markets, the new mid-sized premium estate will be called the 9-3 SportWagon when it arrives for sale in the UK on 1 September 2005.
Saab was formed in 1937 to build aircraft has been part of the GM family for 15 years. They built their first car in 1949. UK sales started in 1960. The first estate car from Saab, the 95, was produced at the end of 1959 and it had versatile seating for two, five or seven people. The four millionth Saab will roll of their production lines this month.
Saab is now the premium brand in Europe for Genera Motors and has benefited from the recent closer ties with GM and their worldwide sales strategy. This has been vitally important in the UK where Saab has been able to grow their sales by taking a slice of the all important company car and fleet markets. So far this year Saab’s UK sales are up 39 per cent and they claim to be the fastest growing premium brand during the last 12 months.
This year Saab expects UK sales to exceed 25,000 units, an all time record. The UK is Saab’s third largest market in the world behind the USA and only just behind Saab’s home market of Sweden. Saab expects their world sales in 2005 to be around 130,000 units, 3,000 units more than last year.
Jan Ake Jonsson, managing director of Saab Automobile AB said last week at the international launch in Sweden of the new SportsWagon, "We at Saab now have all the ingredients to be successful as we have GM’s global organisation behind us so we can utilize all their design, development and sales resources. In the past we have had a too limited portfolio of models but the SportWagon is the first new model to extend our range. Future models will allow us to grow our sales with incremental business"
He added, "There are now three key elements to the Saab brand, progressive design, sporty driving, but with a focus on environmental issues, and functionality of our products. Safety has always been and important factor for us and all our current models and the new SportWagon have Euro NCAP five-star ratings. My mission as managing director is to take all these elements, to mould them into ever model we make and to develop the Saab brand to be the best premium range in the world. The new SportWagon will become our best selling model worldwide"
Competitors for the Saab SportWagon will be the Audi A4Avant, BMW 3 Series Touring Jaguar X-Type Estate and the Mercedes C-Class Estate.
Jonathan Nash, managing director of Saab GB said at the international media launch, " This sector is growing and we have arrived with the SportWagon at the right time. The premium estate sector in the UK is worth around 75,000 units and I eventually want 10 per cent of that in a full year. This year to the end of April, UK premium saloon car sales are down 11 per cent but the premium estate car sales are up 16 per cent. I expect this new range to achieve between five and six thousand UK sales next year but this year we will only have 2,250 units to sell unless I can persuade Saab in Sweden to let me have more. I think UK fleet customers for the new Sport Wagon will account for a little under 50 per cent of sales against the 9-3 Saloon where fleet business takes 55 per cent of availability".
"In its first full year of sales I expect the SportWagon, which has a £1,000 price premium over the equivalent 9-3 Sports Saloons, to account for 50 per cent of total UK 9-3 registrations" said Nash.
The Saab SportWagon is available with a choice of five specification levels, Linear, Linear Sport, Vector, Vector Sport and Aero. Seven engine option will be available, five petrol and two diesel. Petrol engines include a normally aspirated 1.8-litre unit with 122bhp and three turbo-charged four-cylinder units in 150bhp, 175bhp and 210bhp form. The two diesel units are 1.9 TiD with outputs of 120bhp and150bhp. Top of the range is the new Aero unit with a V6 2.8-Litre engine from GM’s Australian Holden factory but with Saab designed turbocharger. Power output is 250bhp with 258lb ft of torque.
UK on the road prices start at £17,995 and range up to £27,795 for the Aero 2.8T. Best selling model will be the150bhp low emission Vector 1.9 TiD priced at £22,845. Saab GB expects the range topping Aero 2.8T to account for between 10 and 15 per cent of SportWagon sales.
The wedge shaped five-door Saab SportWagon provides 419 litres of cargo area space with all five seats in position. 1273 litres of space is available with the rear seats folded. A twin rear load floor allows a further 20 litres of secure storage space. The 60/40 split rear seat also has a ski hatch. With the front passenger seat back folded there is a maximum ‘load through’ carrying length of 2.65 metres. Saab has produced a wide range of accessories for the SportWagon in keeping with its ‘lifestyle' use.Published 31 May 2005