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It’s not easy to sleep when the first bright
rays of sun stream in through your window at 3 a.m. But this time of year, it
never gets completely dark in Stockholm. Of course, in the winter, you barely
ever see sunlight. Such extremes can influence the national character—and the
products a country produces. Maybe that’s why Swedish architecture is so
distinctive. And Swedish cars.
Over the years, both Saab and Volvo have developed
images distinct and different from more mainstream European brands. Volvo’s
reputation is solid and almost stern. Saab’s, on the hand is both sporty and
quirky. That’s helped the company earn a small, if loyal, following. But not one
it can live on: Saab has only survived the last decade on the largesse of its
American parent, General Motors. But patience, and support, can eventually wear
out. So there’s a lot riding on the all-new 9-3 that the automaker is bringing
to market later this year.
Bread and butter - hold the
A complete update of Saab’s
bread-and-butter product line, the 2003-edition 9-3 could prove to be one of the
most significant products in the Swedish automaker’s relatively brief history.
(Founded only 55 years ago, it is the youngest of the major car brands excluding
luxury arms like Lexus, Infiniti, etc.) Starting out with the same Epsilon
platform used by a variety of other GM products, the 9-3 is larger and a lot
more mainstream than past products. To drive that home, Saab has abandoned past
practices, rolling out a sedan, rather than the traditional 9-3 hatchback. At
least three other variants will follow over the next few years, ranging from a
convertible to a ute-like crossover vehicle.