Saab 9-3 Engine Tuning

"Fjording ahead"

9-3 Tuning

The 2.3 HOT, or High Output Turbo is a stunning engine.

Power starts at 230bhp and this can be lifted to around 290bhp with the mods outlined below.

A note on the 3.0t V6 engine (pre 2001 is the one to go for) after 2001 the 3.0t v6 was noticeably slower and less economical!

It is not easy locating performance parts or remaps for the 3.0t so it is not ideal for a tuning project.

Many 9-3 owners uprate the handling of their cars as a priority, this will certainly increase your enjoyment of the car. We suggest that you fit uprated suspension and lower the car by 30-35mm. Larger drops require arch work - especially on models already equipped with sports suspension.

Our aim in 9-3 engine tuning should be to increase peak power and Torque at the top end.

Tuning tips and articles

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Following our tips for tuning your 9-3 you will end up with a practical scorching hatch that will embarrass bigger cars.

Smaller engines do not provide much of a return in terms of power so start with a bigger engine. Engine swaps are a good option if you have a small engine size.

SAAB 9-3 Tuning modifications.

This will help to ensure you retain some economy low down. Fast road cams offer one of the biggest performance gains as far as a bolt on part goes. When pushing up the power you will need to pay attention to the fuelling. More power needs more fuel. A fuel pressure boost valve will make the car more responsive and respond better. To get sufficient fuel you may need to uprate the injectors on your engine. Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned 9-3.

The turbo Saab engines respond well to an aftermarket intercooler and a remap which pushes power from 150bhp to around the 225bhp mark on standard engine internals with little or no reliability issues. We cover remapping a little further down the page.

SAAB 9-3 Intake and Exhaust.

Now we move on to the intake and exhaust and ensure proper flow through the engine. Maximum power gains come from a full induction kit. On small engines you will actually lose low down power so we suggest you use a panel air filter instead. Do not go with the biggest exhaust you can find - the best for power gains are usually between 1.5 to 2.5 inches.

When you start tuning your 9-3 you will find that the standard clutch starts to complain so get an uprated clutch. NASP engines do not achieve big power gains if you remap them but with turbo engines this is another story. A remapped turbo remapped turbo will give phenomenal power gain. Adding forced induction will see big power gains but this is usually too expensive to be cost effective. Superchargers are generally easier to add than turbos. Turbos give boost in exponential proportion to increasing engine speed and this can make mapping difficult. The nice steady boost to rpm characteristics of the supercharger make them easier to map. Alternatively you could add water injection to control knock.

The 1.9 TiD offers 150bhp in standard from and this can be remapped to 190-225bhp. The 2.0 V6 TiD starts at 166bhp and with a remap will produce around 217bhp.

The 2.2TiD offers 120bhp in standard form but a remap can lift this to an impressive 160bhp. One of the best value mods around has to be a remap for a modern diesel. It is worth noting that the recent 52 plate model cannot be remapped so earlier cars are better.

SAAB 9-3 Wheel modifications.

Alloy wheels will help the brakes cool down and are usually lighter than the steel ones. It is worth noting that although they can look cool on the 9-3 Big alloy wheels will actually decrease your performance.

The larger you go the lower your acceleration will be - this is due to the change in your effective final drive ratio. For this reason we would advise sticking to a maximum wheel size of 18 inches, although we know some of our members have gone larger than this with no problems.

Please join us in our forum to discuss the 9-3 options in more detail with our 9-3 owners. It would also be worth reading our 9-3 tuning articles to get a full grasp of the pros and cons of each type of modification.

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