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Development for the next generation Saab 9-3 is under way and early chassis test mules with few modifications (extended wheel arches) are currently running on the roads in Southern Europe.

Expected to be offered as a three- and five-door hatchback, the 9-3 will ride on a modified version of the Epsilon I platform. Parts will be sourced from various automakers, particularly BMW.

Back in September an engine purchasing agreement was made with BMW giving Saab access to a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder petrol engine with start/stop technology. As a point of comparisson, the 1.6-liter turbo engine in the MINI Cooper is available in three levels: 175 PS (129 kW / 173 hp), 184 PS (135 kW / 181 hp) and 208 hp (155 kW / 211 PS).

Other reports have also placed BMW's new 2.0-liter turbo as a potential candidate for the 9-3 however detuned to produce 222 hp (166 kW / 225 PS). BMW recently unveiled this engine producing 245 PS (180 kW / 242 bhp) in the X1 model.

The new Saab 9-3 is expected to launch in 2012. Further out, a 9-3 Hybrid will be introduced and an electric vehicle will be launched by 2016.

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