When a BMW or Volvo is Too Mainstream
I've been a Saab fan ever since I gazed upon a stunning metallic silver 99 EMS model at my local auto show in 1976. It was gorgeous, sophisticated and technologically advanced for the era, with an air of exclusivity the domestics, and even most of the imports didn't exude.
|Even with a recent rise in sales, Saab remains a relatively exclusive marque. (Photo: General Motors)|
Well, some things never change. More recent Saabs are still attractive, high-tech and exclusive, the latter much to the chagrin of owner General Motors despite the brand's recent rise in sales compared to previous years.
|From each aerodynamically smooth surface to every rounded corner there's no mistaking the 1999 to 2002 Saab 9-3 for anything else. (Photo: General Motors)|
The first 9-3, that replaced the aging 900 nameplate in 1998 as a 1999 model, was to change all that. At least the new nomenclature gave the impression of an all-new model. While there were evolutionary improvements, in reality it hardly looked different than the somewhat more revolutionary design that preceded it - the last generation 900 was the first to be based on GM of Europe's Opel Vectra architecture. Just the same the 9-3 was slightly more structurally sound than the 900, while upping quality, luxury and features.
Despite sharing its platform with the Vectra, the Swedish automaker's design team managed to allow the 9-3 distinctive Saab styling. From each aerodynamically smooth surface to every rounded corner there's no mistaking it for anything else.