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Steane Klose | Nov 3, 2007

Earlier this week Saab launched the new 9-3 in Australia and in doing so added three more E85 flex-fuel vehicles to its environmentally friendly line-up. Saab 9-3 BioPower will be available in Sport Sedan, SportCombi and Convertible. It is priced at a $1,000 premium over its equivalent petrol model and is on sale immediately.

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Saab were quick to point out in the press release that Australia's largest independent fuel retailer, United Petroleum, has announced plans to install Australia's first commercial E85 fuel pumps - one in Sydney and one in Melbourne.

Saab estimates driving on E85 can reduce fossil fuel-based CO2 emissions by up to 80 per cent. The most efficient small capacity diesel engines deliver in the region of 120-130 grams of fossil CO2 per kilometre, while the new 9-3 BioPower emits just 40 grams of fossil CO2 per kilometre - with even better performance.

"This is a big investment by United Petroleum. We think with this support BioPower will be a success in Australia and will stimulate other manufacturers to bring their flex-fuel vehicles to this country as well. This is the tip of the iceberg," Mr Batish said.

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The Saab 9-3 BioPower engine delivers peak power of 147kW and 300Nm of maximum torque on E85. Running on E85 the BioPower 2.0t engine produces at least an additional 18kW (147kW vs 129kW) and an extra 35Nm of torque (300Nm vs 265Nm) over the 2.0-litre turbo petrol variant.

As well as adding a BioPower model to the Saab line-up in Australia, the new 9-3 range will also introduce all-wheel drive and new performance diesel models in 2008. The new TTiD diesel option will be available from February 2008. The two-stage 1.9 litre performance turbo diesel produces an impressive 132kW and huge 400Nm of torque and provides in-gear performance on a par with the 2.8-litre V6.

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The Saab Turbo X is also heading down-under and will feature active, all-wheel-drive (Saab XWD) which has been designed to optimise handling and stability in all driving conditions. It is fitted as standard on the Turbo X Limited Edition 9-3 Sport Sedan and SportCombi, which is due in Australia around June 2008.

The Turbo X combines XWD with an up-rated 206kW / 400Nm, 2.8-litre V6 Turbo engine. It is available with a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The manual Turbo X has recorded preliminary performance figures of 0-100km/h in 5.7 seconds.

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Saab Australia have also announced changes to the levels of specification within the 9-3 range. Previously additional trim and luxury appointments between Linear, Vector and Aero were accompanied by requisite increases in performance specification. For the new model year, customers will be able to match levels of comfort and luxury specification in Linear and Vector with the petrol, flex-fuel or diesel engine combination of their choice. (Model list included below.)

Entry model Linear is standard with 2.0-litre turbocharged 129kW engine and the 9-3 Aero will also offer an additional 4kW, taking maximum power to 188 kW.

The new 9-3 also adds a new standard 17 x 7.5 inch alloy wheel, dynamic new 18-inch optional wheel on Aero and Linear vehicles also gain a new 16 x 6.5 inch alloy.

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The new 9-3 Aero model includes a new Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound audio, which is also available as an option for Linear and Vector Sport Sedan and SportCombi. The Bose system offers exceptional reproduction quality through five channels from CD, MP3 and other audio sources. Surround sound quality is automatically provided even if a CD is not encoded for it. With 11 (Sedan) or 10 (Combi) speakers, performance is optimised for the acoustic requirements of each passenger cabin.

Pricing for the new 9-3 range start at $43,400 for the manual Linear 2.0t, $44,400 for the E85 Linear 2.0t BioPower and $45,900 for the Linear 1.9TiD with automatic transmission being a $2,500 option.

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