SAAB 900 Standard Audio Equipment

Here are the audio systems that were available as standard on the various UK and US market Saab 900 models. If you want to upgrade you have a choice of factory fit, dealer fit or third party fit. Some items will probably have to be fitted at the factory when the car is made (like the Saab Audio System which integrates with the dashboard trip computer/clock), others can be added later and you might find third party equipment better than the factory/dealer equipment
The entry level Saab 900 2.0i is not sold in the US market and US models come with a higher spec audio system than the equivalent UK model.

Nothing at all

For your £15,000 you get nothing more than a blank space in the dashboard, you also miss out on the trip computer/dot matrix check display and next to the clock only have a small LCD display showing the outside temperature.

On the plus side the speaker/power cables may already be in place since it is probably cheaper to build these into all cars than delete them from the cheaper models.

Alternatively if you live in Scandinavia or Finland then you get no hifi system either, but Saabs are cheap here, about 40% less than UK (before tax price).

RDS radio cassette & front speakers

Slightly better than the above, a normal DIN size radio/cassette is fitted below the clock/trip computer and small speakers are fitted at either end of the dashboard. Since the radio is not as big as the Saab Audio System, the gap above it is filled with a cubby hole for sunglasses/tapes etc.

Also included: next to the clock is now the SID2 trip computer with a two line dot matrix display that can show outside temperature, miles to empty and average mpg. It will also show messages like Washer level low, Rear light failure etc. The display automatically dims in the dark and remains exceptionally visible even in direct sunlight (the best I have ever seen). These cars also have the Black Panel feature for night driving which illuminates only the speedo.

Saab Audio System 2

A great step forward, a big custom made audio head unit sits below the clock/trip computer. It is over twice as high as a DIN side head unit, with well spaced buttons and uses the bottom line of the trip computer display to show radio frequency/CD player status etc.

This unit offers good security since it will only fit the Saab 900 and has no display of it's own, so must be fitted into a Saab 900 with two line dot matrix display to work.

The 900 head unit (left) is made by Clarion and the 9-3 unit (below) by Pioneer, but they look quite similar. The 900 is a radio/cassette unit, the 9-3 is a radio/single-cd unit. Both can control a 6pack CD changer.

There is good systems integration between this head unit and the rest of the car. The dashboard clock can set itself from the time transmitted by RDS radio stations and the head unit can increase it's volume in relation to the car's speed.

RDS buttonsUnits fitted for the European market have a full range of Radio Data System (RDS) features which work for stations on the FM band. This includes station name display, network following and most usefully traffic announcements (TA). These can be set to interrupt the CD/tape you are listening to and since the unit has Extended Other Networks (EON) you will hear TA's from local stations even when listening to national radio networks. The volume for TA can be set independently of the main radio so you can drive in silence but still hear TA's. Units fitted for the US market have Weather Band instead of RDS, so do not have the station naming, traffic announcement features etc.

This head unit is able to control an optional CD multi-player fitted in the boot, if you are lucky the cable for it will already be in place from the head unit to the rear left of the boot.

Two small 8.5cm dual cone speakers are fitted at either end of the dashboard and two larger 6x9inch dual cone speakers are fitted in the rear next to the rear shelf. The speaker position in the front doors are empty, but are ready for upgrading with grilles and holes in the right places.

Saab Audio System 3

This is an upgrade to the Saab audio system and involves adding a 40W amplifier to the Saab Audio System head unit which drives additional 16cm mid/bass speakers fitted into the front doors. The 20W amplifier built into the head unit is left to drive the dashboard and rear speakers.

Models with a Saab Audio System 2 as standard can be upgraded to System 3 for £200, models with no Saab Audio System can be upgraded to System 2 for £500, or straight to System 3 for £700.

Saab 9-3 Audio System 3 includes this extra amplifier and also a different head unit that has cassette as well as single CD and radio.

CD Multi-Player (Optional)

Clarion CD playerA factory fit option on the Convertible, dealer fit option for other cars, a 6 CD multi-player can be fitted into the boot and controlled by the Saab Audio System.

The CD player is controlled by the Saab Audio System which has basic track skip/scan functions, intro scan and random play (of one or all discs). A nice feature is the player remembers it's position when you turn the radio off, so you can resume at the same track later.

Advanced features like disc name display, favorite track selection or track programming are NOT available. The player uses cartridges that are compatible with Clarion and Alpine CD changers.

If you have the player fitted by a Saab dealer or use the Saab installation kit, then the player sits in a heavy steel cage on the left of the boot which will protect it from heavy of blows.

Richard's verdict

Go for the Saab Audio System 2, it has better security than standard audio size units, better ergonomics (the buttons are big, widely spaced and recognizable by touch) and a very clear and big display. It also has nice integration with other parts of the car which other units cannot provide (like setting the clock, getting louder when you drive faster).

I did not upgrade to the Audio System 3 since I felt the money would be better spent with other companies amplifiers/speakers.

I fitted a Clarion CD multi-player to my 900 since this it worked with the Saab Audio System, has fitting holes in exactly the same places and is £150 cheaper than the dealer fit option. For 9-3 the CD changer must be bought from Saab, a Pioneer changer will not 'talk' to the Saab head unit, even though it is made by Pioneer.

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