Saab’s new frock

In addition to Saab’s fabulous new engine [Saab’s (very) hidden gem], the 9-3 has been given, presumably, its final facelift for the 2012 model year version.  While it’s clearly a very mild visual refresh, along with the less obvious engine, gearing, steering and under-body aerodynamic improvements, it will hopefully provide enough differentiation to entice customers until a new 9-3 is available.

The visual changes include ‘ice block’ headlamps and reshaped grille, incorporating the larger central bar seen on the 9-5 and re-styled air intakes.  The inside is treated to titanium metallic-effect trim and various improvements to the upholstery.

There is still much scepticism about the longevity of the brand in the industry.  The problem is that many potential customers like the image but its dilution under GM has taken away much of what made a Saab individual; it sat in the premium arena, not fighting with GM’s own Vauxhalls.  The fleet sector has also turned its back on Saab, leaving a tough challenge ahead.

So, with the controversial 9-5 facing huge competition from all sides, this bread-and-butter model must succeed.  Saab’s advertising campaign (‘Zero Hero’) is already under way for this very competent car.  I hope it is enough to save one of my favourite iconic brands.

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