Saab is a builder of cars we want to love, delicately balancing a hippie/artist quirkiness with cutting-edge engineering and, lately, superb style. The new 9-3 symbolizes Saab's future. A completely new design, it is based on GM's European compact platform. Platform sharing no longer means badge engineering. With modern engineering and design, platforms can be defined by a set of weld points, with even basic parts such as floorpan stampings differing significantly. Though it has some GM building blocks, this new Swede is all Saab. Torque steer, the bane of the old 9-3, is all but vanquished.

Wedge- rather than teardrop-shaped, the body is a new direction for Saab's design team, led by Michel Mauer. The interior, while preserving the console-mounted ignition, is likewise a step forward. It has its own "cupholder solution," a particular example of creativity appreciated by many in the 9-5, and the look of the dash and buttons reminds one of an E39 BMW.

Saab is the only car company that builds all turbos, all the time. It re-engineered every part of GM's "world" four-cylinder, the Ecotec, to make a turbo-friendly performance engine. Saab's 2.3L High Output Turbo is among our favorites, and the hot version of the new 2.0L engine promises to be impressive.

Eight Great Contenders for Car of the Year
Mercedes-Benz E500
Porsche Boxster S
BMW Z4 Roadster
Saab 9-3
Jaguar XJR
New Beetle Convertible
Volvo S60 R
Audi RS6
2003 european car Grand Prix Winner
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