The appeal of the Saab 9-3 Sport Saloon is set to be significantly broadened in the New Year with the addition of a naturally-aspirated 1.8-litre engine, allied to a new Entry model at a highly competitive price. The new 1.8i motor will complement the existing line-up of turbocharged 150, 175 and 210 bhp 2.0-litre petrol, and 125 bhp 2.2 TiD, engines in the Saab 9-3 Sport Saloon range.
The 9-3’s new 122 bhp, 16-valve, 1.8i engine incorporates direct ignition and an integrated exhaust catalyst to deliver excellent fuel economy, with low emissions and running costs, as well as lively performance. This, combined with a strong standard specification at an aggressive starting price of just £16,995 on the road, will make the new Saab 9-3 1.8i the UK’s best value premium mid-sized saloon.
The 1.8i engine’s use of an electronic throttle and a variable length intake manifold has allowed Saab’s engineers to retain a key Saab driving characteristic: strong low and mid-range pulling power. At least 90 per cent of maximum torque (167 Nm) is generated between 2,400 and 5,700 rpm.
With adaptive service intervals as long as two years/18,500 miles, plus a low insurance grouping of just 11E, scheduled running costs for Saab 9-3 1.8i variants will be competitively low. Used car residual value expert CAP forecasts that the new 9-3 1.8i models will retain a class-beating 38 per cent of their original value after 36 months/60,000 miles.
An electro-hydraulic power steering system is also fitted as standard to the 1.8i engine, further contributing to the low fuel economy. The 1.8i combined cycle fuel consumption of 35.8 mpg shows an improvement against the combined 34.9 mpg of the 9-3 150 bhp 1.8t turbo, while 0 to 60 mph acceleration in 11.1 seconds, with an excellent throttle response, still gives the new 9-3 1.8i a sporty feel.