FOR the first time in 16 years Saab is about to introduce a major make-over of its mainstream 900 model. Although the model was introduced in 1978, it was really a 1968 Saab 99 with a longer nose and tail. While the new 900's heritage will be instantly recognisable, the lines are softened, with rounded corners and smoothed surfaces. Based on the floorpan design of the Calibra derived from General Motors, it also sits on a longer wheelbase than its predecessor. Rear overhang has been reduced and it is slightly wider and taller. Three body styles will eventually be available: three and five-door hatchbacks and later a two-door convertible. All versions will be powered by multi-valve engines, starting with a two-litre 16-valve four-cylinder unit developing 123 horsepower. A 2.3-litre powerplant with 150 horsepower and a two-litre turbo producing 185 horsepower will also be made available. For the first time Saab will also offer a six-cylinder engine. Manufactured by GM, the 24-valve 2.5-litre V6 unit will deliver 170 horsepower. Another technical first will be the introduction of an optional automatic clutch system, known as Saab Sensonic. It replaces the clutch pedal with an electronically controlled operating module, allowing shifting to be done smoother, faster and with reduced effort. The new technology will first be made available with the two-litre turbo engine.