For the first time in a Saab, a diesel-engined variant - the TiD - is offered, powered by the turbocharged 115hp 2.2-litre direct injection unit found in the Vauxhall Sintra people-carrier. But for the other models, the engines are carried over from the previous range essentially unchanged. That means a choice of 2.0i 130hp, 2.3i 150bhp and 2.0i Turbo 185bhp units, all four-cylinder using Saab's proven balancer shaft technology for smoothness.
Three and five-door body styles are available with all engines, with a two-door convertible topping the range. Three trim levels comprise Standard, S and SE with prices starting from ú16,500 for the entry 9-3 2.0i and rising to ú29,775 for the 2.0t SE convertible.
The range is sufficiently wide to compete on level terms with most 'premium upper medium' players, but with an entry threshold of ú16,495 for the 2.0i three-door the 9-3 competes with many mid-ranging volume models despite possessing a 'quality' image that's one step ahead of the 'repmobile' norm at this price.
Tested here is the mid-ranging 2.0t SE five-door at ú24,495 on the road, a price that makes it the most expensive of our chosen rivals.