This car has clearly been designed to keep its occupants as safe as possible. It achieved a five-star rating after Euro NCAP allowed a frontal retest, following changes to the pedal box.
The cabin around the occupants survived the impact well, although the driver and passengers’ chests were subjected to fairly high loads. The frontal airbags are dual-stage and include seat-position sensors for the front occupants.
There were no safety issues with the side impact performance including the pole test.
The 9-3 convertible and 9-3 saloon are identically packaged under the bonnet, so results for the pedestrian impacts were carried over from previous tests of the saloon.
The knee impact area was particularly well designed, including a knee bolster that is designed to collapse when loaded.
However, the steering column was judged to be capable of transmitting loads to the driver’s knees. The footwell was undamaged, posing few hazards for the driver’s feet and ankles.
The front belts were fitted with load limiters and pre-tensioners. Even so, those in the front suffered reasonably high chest loads.
A comprehensive protection system includes seat-mounted thorax and head airbags. The performance was very impressive, with no points lost in the side impact or pole tests.
Both restraints were Saab branded Klippan and rear facing. Each used the adult belt to secure their fronts. An instruction label showed that they also required a support leg to the floor and belts to secure them to the front seat mounting rails.
These restraints protected well, although there was some load exerted on the younger child’s neck, while the chest loads for both children were a little high.
A four-language text warning and a pictogram were fixed to both sides of the passenger’s sun visor. These warned of the potentially fatal risks if a child is put in a rear-facing seat opposite an air bag.
This did not match the protection given to the car’s occupants. The 9-3’s bumper and bonnet sides were particularly unfriendly.