Saab 9-3: is this the new 2013 hatch?

Published: 01 November 2011

Is this the new Saab 9-3? Contained in Saab's business plan submitted to the Swedish National Debt Office was this grainy image of what purports to be the new 2013 9-3.

If it is indeed a model of the finished 9-3, then it shows that the 2011 Phoenix concept car was influential in guiding what should become Saab's best-seller.

But we approach this leak with caution; it is also possible that Saab may have inserted a work-in-progress styling option in this business document. Enough to get bankers excited, but not enough to spill the beans.

Saab 9-3 (2013): the lowdown

It's been a busy week for Saab. The embattled Swedish car maker has languished in bankruptcy protection since the summer, but on 28 October two Chinese car makers stepped up to the plate with a €100 million offer to buy it outright from Victor Muller's Swedish Automotive.

As part of the reorganisation process, Saab has been frantically pedalling its business plan to banks and potential investors. This image of the new 9-3 was contained in one of those documents, obtained by a Swedish newspaper.

The new 9-3 has been designed by Jason Castriota, the head of styling for Saab and his own consultancy. In side profile, it's described as a SportCombi – in the spirit of the 1970s Combi Coupe. We'd heard it would revert to a hatchback bodystyle, and this is sure to please the Saaberati.

What will underpin the new 2013 Saab 9-3?

Saab has been developing a new platform based on the new 9-5's architecture. It is said to be flexible enough to underpin all future Saab models from 9-3 upwards. So if the mooted 9-2 were to appear, it would have to find a separate platform.

Phoenix means front- or four-wheel drive and a range of the latest petrol engines sourced from BMW. The Mini's 1.6 petrol turbo will power the majority of Saab 9-3s. We hear the new Saab 9-3 will stretch to around 4400mm long, with a wheelbase shrunk by some 150mm under today's 9-3.

So will Saab survive to launch the new 9-3?

We hope so. But the sale to China's Pang Da and Youngman is still subject to several approval processes which may yet scupper the deal. Banks and authorities in Europe and China must approve, as must GM which remains a major supplier to Saab. We've seen deals collapse before and everyone in Trollhattan is crossing every limb to make sure this one goes through.

Chairman Victor Muller told CAR that work on the new 9-3 had continued over the summer. 'We have incurred delays of around two months on this project because of lack of funding,' he said. But he vowed it would be ready for launch in 2013.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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