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Mike Stevens | Jun 23, 2010

Saab confirmed in February that it will launch a brand-new 9-3 in 2012, under new owner Spyker, as it focuses on becoming a niche manufacturer with three to four model lines.

Speaking with Britain's Autocar this week, Saab and Spyker CEO Victor Muller said the new 9-3 will likely be built on an even more modified version of the already heavily modified Epsilon I platform.

“It’s a heavily modified Epsilon I platform, but it [the 9-3 version] belongs to Saab now,” Mr Muller said.

“So that’s the basis for the new 9-3. We have no further restraints, so we don’t have to share it with anyone else. This means we can knock ourselves out to make it the car we want it to be."

Originally designed by GM for use with the Vectra, variations of the Epsilon platform have seen service under the 9-3, Pontiac G6, Fiat Croma and Chevrolet Malibu. Saab brought its own flare to the Epsilon platform however, with suspension and drivetrain arrangements unique to those used in other models on the platform.

The Swedish carmaker expects to offer the 9-3 in a number of configurations, along with the upcoming 9-5 and the previously spied 9-4X crossover.

According to a press release issued in February, the next generation 9-3 will be offered in sedan, hatch, sports estate (wagon), crossover and convertible forms.

Sources in Europe have also reported this week that Saab may have finalised a deal with BMW to provide engines for the new 9-3, possibly the same 66kW turbodiesel and 135kW turbocharged petrol engine powering the new MINI Countryman.

With the news of an all-new 9-3, and the launch of the 9-5 this year, Saab's line-up will be completely renewed by 2012. Spyker says the 9-4X - which spy photos reveal to be virtually production-ready - will launch in 2011.

Far from relying on its 'coming soon' line-up, Saab is also working on a brand-new architecture known as the Phoenix platform, which it is developing in-house for the next next-generation 9-3 and 9-5.

The company is also looking at the viability of a fourth, smaller model, dubbed 9-1.

Of the 9-1, the press release reads: "In addition, Saab will investigate the potential of adding a fourth smaller car line ("9-1") in due course provided that the positive development of the smaller car segment continues.

However, this model is currently not envisaged in the Business Plan so if the outcome of the investigation is positive, additional financing to develop this model could be required."

With its goal of converting the brand to a niche player, Spyker says Saab will be repositioned against BMW and Audi as it seeks to grow sales to 125,000 units per year.

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