The Saab 9-3 Coupe was a bridge model between the old Saab 900 and the newer generations, which were built under GM management. It was launched in 1998.
Once a sporty company, with rally-racing experience and with roots that were combined with the aircraft industry, the Saab brand struggled for survival in the late '80s. Then, General Motors bought 50% of its shares and started to increase car profitability. But it wasn't all bells and whistles for the Swedish car-maker.
The 9-3 was developed under GM management, but it still had some parts carried over from the former Saab 900 coupe. From the outside, 1998 looked like a facelift for the former 900, but Saab claimed that it changed 1,100 parts. There was a new bumper design, grille, and headlights as well.
For the interior, Saab 9-3 featured the main company's characteristics such as the starter key between the seats, a big center console and the “Night Panel” function that shut down all the unnecessary information during the night and let only the speedometer lit. Due to its atypical hatchback design, there was enough legroom for the rear passengers.
The Saab 9-3 was the last Saab that used their original engines, of 2.0- and 2.3-liter displacement. Most of them were turbocharged with high or low pressure, not to increase the power but to increase the torque in the mid-range engine speed.