What should we call the Saab 9-3 replacement?

Saab Cars North America chief Tim Colbeck was speaking to the Motor Press Guild in the US earlier this week, when he mentioned that the replacement for the current Saab 9-3 might be released under a new name.

The big question: what should that name be?

To the polls ….. with a few generic and a few specific options available for your vote. You can elaborate on your vote in comments.

[poll id=”8″]

Saabs have traditionally had numeric names, starting with two-digits (92-99) then moving to three and four digits (900, 9000) before going to the current format, badged as “to the power of” but written as 9-3, 9-5, etc.

Very few Saabs have been deliberately and solely marketed with an alpha name – the Saab Sonett comes to mind – but a few others have been come to be known by alpha names. They were often variations on an existing model, like the Viggen, the Turbo-X, the Saab Sport and the Monte Carlo.

You may also like


  1. What about 92, 93, 95, 94x ???

    900 is a great name, if you only sell one model, but if you call the next 9-3 the 900, what would you call the other Saabs, 90 for the smaller Saab TC talked about? 9000 for the 9-5 replacement? So far so good, but what about a 9-4x replacement ? And the 9-6x or 9-7 the Chinese investors are talking about?

    Using alpha names is always tricky, sometime the names have different meaning in different countries, sometimes its not the word but the way people pronounce it, an example for that is the Toyota mr2. In France mr2 can be read as merde, not the best name for a car 😉

      1. That’s why it’s called Shogun in some markets.  I think Pajero means somebody who likes himself too much in Spanish. 

  2. It is not an easy question!

    I have always liked the nine in the naming dating back to the 93 B in which I grew up in the backseat of.

    Then came the time with the zero’s the 90, 900 and 9000 – I initially felt it diluted the brand – but I was wrong – the classic 900 has it strong lovers around the world.

    Actually I did like to move to 9-3, 9-5 it broad me closer to the original naming. I voted for alpha names Saab RedJ is right in his comment below. Yet I still believe in a gorgeous name for a wonderfully designed new 9-3.

    Volvo and Audi mixes numbers and letters – so how about 9A 9B 9C… or 9 Alpha, 9 Beta maybe written with the Greek letters. 

    Or taking some from BMW with the M – like 9xA, 9sA, 9mA and 9nA for different variants of the new 92. 9xC, 9sC, 9mC and 9nC for the new 900/9-3!

    Which ever choice getting the company of the ground is key – branding will be important but don’t change unless on a solid foundation – until then keep what you have!

  3. I would have voted for the “Reclaim your past, call it the 900.”-vote, but for some reason the site shows that I have already voted for the “9-3”.

    I came from twitter, so don´t know if that´s the problem or is it my computer…

  4. All this makes my hair hurt. At first I liked the suggestion of incorporating Greek letters….maybe even without any “9.” But then you run into GM chassis configurations. I want this company to move ahead, not look back. That should include vehicle names. Start a NEW tradiation. Throw all the old nameplates in the dumpster. When I had a personalized license plate made last year, I chose SAAB9, figuring it would work on any Saab, right? I’d like nothing better than to see that plate become obsolete. Look ahead. Ruffle some feathers. I just hope that whatever the naming, it does not become confusing like Cadillac or Lincoln.

  5. Keep the current naming configuration!! Everyone (well, everyone who at least knows what a Saab is) knows what a 9-3, 9-5, etc. is… Don’t go messing with that!!

  6. If Saab wants to be different than Audi, BMW, etc, then leave the numbers behind! Here’s my suggestion off the top of my head:
    Saab Lynx (Saab 9-2)
    Saab Vulpes (Saab 9-3)
    Saab Gulo (Saab 9-4X)
    Saab Lupus (Saab 9-5)
    Saab Ursus (Saab 9-6X)
    Saab Alces (Saab 9-7)
    Saab Sonett (No need to change)

  7. to restore the brand’s familiarity with people, it is smart to stick to numbers when it comes to the present models (95/93/new 93). should there be (financial) space for a completely new model, it is worth considering a name, when numbers have run out (i.e.: when 91-98 have all been used). but: it is wise to think of names that have something to do with Saab or Sweden. (and use the old trim-names like Carlsson/Griffin, to keep things a bit mystical. i mean: L/GL/GLE/GLX/GLS/GLT is too obvious). like Seat: in the (near) past they used names of spanish towns for their models. 

  8. The current naming is just fine.  Don’t mess with a good thing and confuse customers with new names.  And re-naming an existing model is even more confusing (like they did with the NG900/9-3).  9-3, 9-4, 9-5 is easy to say as well.  93/95/96 and 900/9000 is the past.

    I hope they’ll use 9-1 for the new small Saab and not 9-2.  Keep the odd numbers for the cars and even numbers for crossovers or other models. 

    Drop the X on the 9-4X and just name it 9-4.  We know it is a X-over vehicle but you don’t go naming the 9-3 a 9-3C (Car) either.  Rename the 9-3X because it isn’t really a crossover.

    And bring back Linear, Arc and Vector for the US models.  There currently is:

    9-3: Turbo4 and Aero.
    9-5: Turbo4, Turbo4 Premium, Turbo6 XWD and Aero.
    9-4X: 3.0i, Premium and Aero. 

    There is not much consistency between the models at all.

    And last but not least..  establish official naming to designate the model generations like BMW (E28 etc) and Mercedes (W124 etc).  I often see OG (Old Generation) and NG (New Generation) being used but that doesn’t really work for the long term.

    1. Frank,
      E28, W124 are the internal names of the project. Saab also uses such kind of names internally, but they are less known. For instance the current 9-5 is the 650, and the old was the 640 if I remember well.

      1. Quite true.

        The 9-5 SportCombi is the 651.  Not sure if I’m allowed to reveal the code for the 9-3 replacement, but it has one too, of course.

  9. I agree, keep the current naming scheme. Saab is going to have enough to do reintroduce itself to the car buying public without creating any more confusion as to “what does the new name mean”.  If the new 9-3 replacement is as much of a groundbreaking model as has been hinted, then it will get the attention it deserves and the “new 9-3” will be just fine for a name.

    If Saab does choose another name, though, I will very likely still want one!  🙂

  10. Well, I like the current names, but I think they need something new. In 2013 when there is a new 9-3, are people (in USA) going to associate it with the car that has been around for a decade already and therefore not realise that it’s NEW..?

    If you notice with Merc and BMW over the years with the E-Class and 5-Series, they are often referred to as W124, W210, W211 or E46 etc. You know from these code numbers which car is which. So, one E-Class is not equal to another, same with the BMW. Saab doesn’t have that. Instead we refer to cars as NG and OG and GM. It’s fine for us, but for people who don’t know, it must be a pain.
    ‘I got a new 9-5 wagon!’
    ‘Wow, really? A NEW 9-5 wagon? I thought they weren’t building them yet!’
    ‘What? Oh, well mine’s a 2007 model.’
    ‘But you said it was the NEW 9-5….’  

    Also, Merc constantly change their engines and associated numbers. So you might remember a decade ago, the E230 became the E240 V6. People knew it was a newer car, still an E-Class though. Now in Europe you have E250 CDI and E250 CGI. Again, you do not confuse these with E230, for example – because CGI is knew.

    Saab (and Volvo) has nothing like this. You have the ‘9-5’ and that’s it. After that you are relying on the engine information. The 9-5 ‘2.0 LPT BioPower’ etc. Or the ‘2.0 TiD’. I don’t know about you guys, but those names are rubbish – well I always thought so. Relying on the name of the engine is what Nissan used to do with the Micra. That is, I associate it with cheap cars and not luxury ones. Audi is the exception, but then 2.8 FSI sounds better than 2.0t. Or was that 2.0T??? No wait, the 2.3T Aero. Or the 1.8t…. with the 2.0 litre engine, of course… 

    I’m sorry, but the naming of Saabs over the last decade has been awful. And that’s putting it kindly. Even the 9 ‘to the power of’ 5 thing. What was with that?!? When it came out, I remember my father asking me what the name of the new Saab was. ‘Is it the 9 to 5? Like the working hours? Or the 9,5? Or the 9 to the power of 5?’

    I hadn’t a clue. Who knows what they thought of it in the USA??

    Volvo are now using T2, T3, T4, T5, T6 and D2, D3, D4 etc. to show some kind of consistent naming. Too simple for me – and as a huge fan of the original T5, it’s a bit of a kick in the face.

    Whatever name Saab does come up with, it should reflect the future. If they use 900. What will the other cars be called? The 90, 900, 9000, 90000 and… 900,000???

    Anyway, sorry for the long post. This has been a pet annoyance of mine over the last decade with Saab. The ‘t’ versus ‘T’ thing really did it for me (though this probably was only some markets) – I just thought it was hopeless.

    Also, aside from us Saab people, does the average person know that Aero is different to Viggen?? Or for that matter Linear or Vector?? They are just meaningless words. Yes, they sound cool, but they are meaningless nonetheless. At least the competition use words like ‘Comfort’ or ‘Sport’ so you *know* what you’re getting.

    Now, here’s hoping Saab can just build cars again! 🙂    

    1. I might have to make it a pet project of mine to find out the various internal names for the previous model series’ and post them here for future reference.  ‘t’ vs ‘T’ isn’t really an issue, though.  Low output vs high output.  Not too hard to remember.  I always had trouble figuring out which was the higher spec level – Linear, Vector or Arc and to this day, I still don’t know where Arc fit in.

      And after all that, what was your vote?

      1. Well, I’m just giving you my genuine thoughts on the matter which I’ve had for quite a while! With all the respect in the world (and I mean that), if you think ‘t’ vs ‘T’ isn’t an issue, then well, I’ll just have to agree to disagree and leave it at that.

        I didn’t actually vote. If it was me, I’d try to adopt something similar to the others – if only to get away from the NG OG stuff I was on about earlier. But all the names are nice. Of course, it would be nice to have some new and fresh namaes when Saab gets going again.

        1. Thoughts appreciated.  Didn’t intend to sound argumentative at all as I think everything you said was quite valid (with the exception of the ‘t’ bit 🙂 )

          1. AFAIK, Arc was the Linear of some markets 😉

            I think the trim level naming structure is the only thing Saab should rethink.

            Maybe a unified global naming would be OK.
            For instance the 9-4x is called Base, Premium and Aero in the US, in Germany it will be Linear, Vector and Aero.  🙁

          2. We had Linear, Arc, Vector in Ireland, too. But then we got Linear Sport and, eh, Vector Sport. And Aero of course..! So, having thought about this for far too much of my day, I think I like the names 9-3 etc. but, as RedJ said, it’s the trim-level (and engine names) that probably annoy me most. Regarding the engines bit, I suppose I’d like to see some unique to Saab monikers. For instance, I quite like the TTiD badge. When I was a teenager, I thought EcoPower was a cool name too.

            Over here, Volvo use S, ES, SE, SE-LUX, and R-Design for their trims. So, it’s quite easy to read that a “Volvo S40 T3 S” is a very different and lesser car to a “Volvo XC60 T6 SE-LUX”.

            So, Steve if you could get right on that – it would be great thanks! 🙂  

          3. Not sure I understand. You do not like Saab’s naming scheme, because you feel it does not provide the customer with enough clues to differentiate the models. Fine — that is an opinion I get.

            But then you provide examples from other brands that makes even less sense. CGI better than CKI or something? I would argue that a capital T is intuitively better/bigger than a small t… OK, ‘K’ is bigger than ‘G’ I suppose, but…

            XC60 does sound bigger than S40. Not sure where those letters would put the S80 though.

          4. CGI is a new moniker introduced by Merc to demonstrate that a car runs on Gasoline and not Diesel. My emphasis is on the ‘new moniker’ part. There is no such thing as CKI.

  11. I voted as I did in prior polls to keep the 9-3 designation for the current 9-3 replacement.  I did like the “Keep using a numeric name, but a new system” choice and I see that it is running second as I write this.  I personally think it is important to have the designation start with a 9, allowing a long-time connection with the heritage.   But I am open to a new system if it makes sense for the future and is a reasonable evolution. 

    I also recognize that there will be special cases for a non-numeric name (Sonett is a good example).  I never liked Linear, Vector and Arc as “architectures” as they were originally explained.  Aero is just fine – now and in the future.  I find today’s use of Premium is more obvious than S, SE, etc. that has been used in the past.  I do find the descriptors that come after the the model designation useful, including the engine displacement and turbo designation.  

    Finally, think back to the 1980’s with all the different designations (after the model designation) that existing across Saab’s global markets.  In those pre-Internet days you may have never known how different things were across the globe unless you were in the industry or subscribed to the European car maganizes.  There is still a need to address the local markets.

  12. SAAB has been using a naming convention starting with 9 since they started making cars. The few cars that didn’t have a number with a 9 but a name were special, sporty cars (Sonett, Monte Carlo, GT750), or concepts (Aero-X, Phoenix, Katherina, etc). Making their prodution cars with a 9 is as SAAB-like as the ignition between the seats, the aerospace inspired design or its turbocharged engines. Why change their DNA? SAAB does not need to change the brand’s DNA, just needs to shed the GM DNA.I say keep the 9 for all cars. Either continue with the dash but use odd number for cars and wagons, even numbers for crossovers/SUVs, etc.My SAAB line up:9-1: subcompact, Mini-sized car9-2: small crossover, RAV4 sized9-3: medium/large sedan (same as now)9-4: medium/full size crossover (same as now)9-5: large sedan (same as now)9-6: open for an offroader, truck, or minivan (yes, not SAAB territory, but I’d leave that number opened for such a vehicle)9-7: large luxury/executive sedan (think 7-series, or S-Class size vehicle)Make a small, lightweight, two-seater, open top sports car, Miata sized, call it the Sonett IV.Make a medium sized, state of the art 2+2 sports car, 2.0 turbo and V6 turbo, call it the Aero.The 9-1 and 9-3 should have wagon version, call the SportCombi or SC for short. They should also have an open top version (at least the 9-3 shoudl as it already does).Make all-wheel drive versions the X versions.Make a sports division much like BMW’s M, call it the SPG, or SPV.Imagine a SAAB 9-3X SC SPG…. a 300+ hp, all wheel drive wagon… yummy.

  13. Don’t call it the Phoenix, what an awful, cliched name that is. Not interesting! Oh, and the car itself? Maybe one needs to see it in person, but I have no idea what any of the fuss is (was) about, it looks mediocre at best. In fact it looks rather sleazy and not at all Saab. Not that Saabs must look ‘Saab’ in the literal way of keeping the lines the same, but they should perhaps at least attempt to achieve similar aesthetic ideals, the same clarity of purpose. The PhoeniX looks like some unsophisticated ego-driven jock from Phoenix, Arizona designed it. Please don’t tell me the new 9-3 is going to resemble this sleazy ‘concept’ car in any way.

    1. Whilst the 9-3’s replacement might have a hint of PhoeniX, I think the concept car was too abstract to resemble a real road going car, so I don’t think you have to worry too much.  I hope it has a strong hint of C900.

  14. the reason i fell in love with saab is the scientific look the name has. 9-3 is perfect as written on the car – nine to the third! beautiful!!!

  15. The only problem with Phoenix (which would be a good and apt name), is that so many people can’t spell it.

  16. The 9-5 was completely redesigned but
    kept the same name. Redesigning/releasing the 9-3 and changing the name
    makes no sense. The line-up will not have any numerical coherency,
    especially with the addition of 9-4 and concept of 9-2(6). If the new
    9-5 was re-badged as 9000, then maybe a 900 would be a good idea.

  17. I think the sonnet could be brought back, but most of the other names don’t feel modern. I really want my next car to be a sporty Saab quite a bit smaller than the current 9-3. Whether it’s called a 9-1, a Sonnet, or called buy some other name, I feel is less important than making a small, fuel-efficent car that comes with a manual transmission and stays true to Saab.

    1. i think you might have an argument with Peugeot, like Porsche had, when they introduced their 901, which became 911, after Peugeot said they claimed the ‘0’ in the middle. nowadays Peugeot has the ’00’ in the middle, with their 1007, 3008, 4007 and 5008…

  18. I have to agree with the name change. To us, the 9-3 “works”. But this is partly due to the fact that we are Saab diehards. 
    an outsider looking in: Right now, anything SAAB is bad. SAAB needs to
    make every effort to disassociate itself from its currently turmoil.
    This is marketing 101. People have an
    instinctive association to relate names, smells, sounds to events.
    “9-5″, “9-3″, even “9-4X” may render negative emotions, and relate those
    names to everything bad that is/was Saab. Brink of bankruptcy, GM
    years, production shut down… etc etc.
    the same reason why Audi discontinued using 5000 and instead moved on
    to A#. The first thing that comes to mind when I think 5000 is the
    massive brake recall from the 80s the nearly shut down the manufacturer.
    In the grand scheme of things, the Audi “5000″ or Saab ’9-3″ aren’t the
    level of IP that Toyota owns with their “Camry” brand. Keeping 5000,
    “9-3″, etc will probably do more branding harm than good. Its no
    coincidence that Kia no longer uses the names from their crap days. Can
    you imagine KIA trying to sell today’s excellent Optima under the Sephia
    name? Impossible.

  19. Now that Saab is free of GM, it’s time to get rid of the GM era naming conventions.  9-3, 9-5 etc. were a naive attempt to draw comparison with the BMW 3 and 5 series, but fooled nobody.  Much as I’d like to see the 9-3’s replacement called a 900 again, I really think Saab should start using some Swedish names instead.  Let’s put the bad GM era behind us and gradually phase in new names with each post GM Saab model.

  20. “Saab 37 Viggen”

    Saab, the aircraft manufacturer, labeled its aircraft with a numerical value and a lettered name. I believe Saab can adopt a similar construction of its new naming architecture.


        9OO Series                               
            9O1                    Small
            9O3                    Midsize                          
    9O5                    Large 
    9O7                    Extended (china market)


        9OOO Series 
             9OO4                 midsize
    9OO6                 Large

    Trim Levels

    Gripen                         base trim
    Aero                           premium trim
    Viggen                        performance trim (comes with the triangular viggen badge)

    GripenX                       Xwd base trim
    AeroX                         Xwd premium
    ViggenX                      Xwd performance trim (comes with the Triangular viggen badge)

    On the left of the car have the model number I.E.”9O3.” On the right of the car have the trim level designation I.E. “ViggenX.”

    9O1 Gripen|GripenX
    9O1 Aero|AeroX
    9O1 Viggen|ViggenX

    9O3 Gripen|GripenX
    9O3 Aero|AeroX

    9O3 Viggen|ViggenX

        9OO4 Gripen|GripenX
    9OO4 Aero|AeroX
        9OO4 Viggen|ViggenX

    9O5 Gripen|GripenX
    9O5 Aero |AeroX
    9O5 Viggen|ViggenX

        9OO6 Gripen|GripenX
        9OO6 Aero|AeroX
        9OO6 Viggen|ViggenX

    9O7 Gripen|GripenX
    9O7 Aero|AeroX
    9O7 Viggen|ViggenX

    The first time saab was mass produced to a mainstream level, it only contained the 9OO and the 9OOO as its two vehicle designation types. Today Saab still can be simplified into two vehicle types: Car and SUV.

    The 9OO series applies to cars,with the current numerical hierarchy of cars (like 9-1,9-3,9-5,9-7) to create the 9O1,9O3,9O5,9O7

    The 9OOO series applies to SUV’s, and keeping with the even number SUV designation (9-4, 9-6) to create the 9OO4, 9OO6

    The Gripen name provides a fresh name for the entry of all the vehicles that attract the new customers.

    The Aero name retains the pride of the aero badge by making it the premium trim

    The Viggen brings the performance division of saab back (maybe hirsch can play a role)
    The X badge continues the current designation of Xwd

    1. Good idea, but I believe Peugeot won’t allow 901, 902 etc..  Porsche originally wanted to call the 911 a 901 but had to change it because of Peugeot. 

        1. yeah 903 and 9004 relates to peugeot too much but the point is it just needs to be logical. if it changes i think it’ll have to be across the lineup. Otherwise, it’ll cause confusion like in the past.

          Also, there is no point in a trim designation if the car does not wear it because then no one will even know. Like when they tried Linear,Arc,Vector
          many people have no clue what those are.


  21. The naming convention must be based on starting with a 9, and I think the names should be pronounceable. As a techie, I quite liked the 9³ and 9⁵ names, but nobody knew really how to pronounce them to start with. If any change, just go back to 2-digit numbers in the range 90-99. Saab already own the rights to those afaik.

    I agree with @google-ce83780feef7eb7898fc6598430a8f2c:disqus that Phoenix is an awful cliche! (but disagree on the looks – it is a great *concept* car)