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Here are a set of spy shots of the 2012 Saab 9-3 test mule.

The chassis on this mule appears to have some modifications, including a wider front axle. In a set of shots snapped during testing in southern Europe in February, we also noticed the extended wheel arches.

As the model is slated for a debut next year, we can expect a full body prototype to begin testing soon.

The 2012 Saab 9-3 will be offered in both three- and five-door hatchback body styles. It will be built on a modified Epsilon I platform with parts sourced from other automakers such as BMW.

Earlier this month, Saab introduced an updated 9-3 convertible which featured two variants of a 2.0 liter turbocharged petrol engine, with outputs at 163 PS (120 kW / 161 hp) and 320 Nm (236 lb-ft) of torque as well as 220 PS (162 kW / 217 hp) and 350 Nm (258 lb-ft) of torque. Those are possibilities for the next 9-3.

But last September Saab announced an engine purchasing agreement with BMW that raises the possibility of new or additional power plants. The MINI Cooper has a 1.6 liter turbo that comes in three output levels: 175 PS (129 kW / 173 hp), 184 PS (135 kW / 181 hp) and 211 PS (155 kW / 208 bhp).

Also a candidate may be BMW's new 2.0-liter turbo but perhaps dialed down a bit to 225 PS (166 kW / 222 bhp). BMW recently unveiled that new power plant in the X1 xDrive28i with an output of 245 PS (180 kW / 242 bhp).

The new Saab 9-3 is expected to hit the market in 2012.

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