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Saab 9-3 BioPower 2007 Review

Thanks to former US presidential candidate Al Gore, global warming is dinner party conversation these days.

Diminishing oil reserves have also focused attention on fuel economy and emissions, leading to Swedish carmaker Saab expanding its bioethanol engines across its local range.

The new 9-3 range now includes a bioethanol model, which joins the TiD diesel or turbocharged petrol four and V6 engines. The 9-3 BioPower E85 joins the 9-5 BioPower, which has also just gone on sale.

Saab has brought 50 9-5 E85 cars here and Saab spokeswoman Emily Perry, says it is difficult to forecast possible take-up of the 9-3 BioPower, given the fuel's limited availability.

Typically made from crops such as corn, bioethanol is an alcohol-based fuel mixed with regular petrol with up to 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent petrol, giving an E85 rating.

But as bioethanol is more corrosive than petrol, fuel lines and engine parts must be made of more durable components.

The 9-3 BioPower is available in sedan, wagon and the convertible. It costs $1000 more than the equivalent petrol models. Its engine delivers 147kW and 300Nm of maximum torque on E85. Running on E85, the BioPower 2.0-litre engine produces 18kW more (147kW versus 129kW) and 35Nm of extra torque (300Nm versus 265Nm) than the 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine.

Saab estimates driving on E85 can reduce fossil fuel-based CO2 emissions up to 80 per cent.

The most efficient small capacity diesel engines deliver in the region of 120g to 130g of CO2 a kilometre and the new 9-3 BioPower emits only 40g of CO2 a kilometre.

Apart from the E85 cars, Saab has added an all-wheel-drive model, the Turbo X, and a performance turbodiesel to the line-up.

The petrol models include an entry-level 129kW/265Nm 2.0-litre Linear, 129kW/265Nm 2.0-litre Vector and high-output 154kW/300Nm 2.0-litre and range-topping 188kW/350Nm Aero 2.8-litre V6.

From February, the two-stage turbocharged 132kW/400Nm 1.9-litre TTiD arrives, joining the 110kW/320Nm TiD models.

The TTiD will be available in Aero sedan or wagon models with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Next June it will be joined by the limited-edition Turbo XWD all-wheel drive.

The new 9-3 gains a new aggressive front end design, clamshell bonnet and new headlights, similar to the Aero X concept car.

At the back, the sedan and convertible have smoked white light clusters and deeper bumpers.

The entry-level Vector sedan is $43,400 and the range-topping Aero 2.8TS $70,600.

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

Aero 2.8L, PULP, 6 SP $9,000 – 13,530 2007 Saab 9-3 2007 Aero Pricing and Specs
Linear 2.0L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $6,200 – 9,570 2007 Saab 9-3 2007 Linear Pricing and Specs
Linear 1.9TID 1.9L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $8,200 – 12,760 2007 Saab 9-3 2007 Linear 1.9TID Pricing and Specs
Linear 2.0T 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $7,300 – 11,330 2007 Saab 9-3 2007 Linear 2.0T Pricing and Specs
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