2008 Saab 9-3 Review - Kelley Blue Book
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Saab 9-3. Beyond meatballs and home-assembled furniture, Sweden is also
known as the home of Saab cars, a brand that has prided itself on being
different. So for those who think Audis and BMWs are all too common on
Americas roadways, the Saab 9-3 offers a quirkier sports-luxury
Welcome to our comprehensive Kelley Blue Book review of the Saab 9-3.
Styling advances at Saab tend to be evolutionary, but take our word for it;
in addition to a host of interior and performance upgrades, the exterior of
the latest 9-3 has received more than a freshening. And Saab loyalists can
take heart that funky details like the signature center-mounted ignition
remain on the 9-3. For more new car reviews, interviews and automotive news
visit http://www.kbb.com today.
Saab 9-3 Vector 1.9 TiDS Steptronic Full Review,Start Up, Engine, and In Depth Tour
The front-wheel-drive 9-3 does not feel state of the art from behind the
wheel. It was facelifted in 2007, but as the company points out the 9-3 has
a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, there really was no need to change
its underpinnings. However, although it is comfortable enough, there's no
disputing the fact that rivals offer great handling and better body
control. Mechanically though, there is a highlight -- the twin-turbo 1.9-litre TTiD. The smaller turbocharger minimises lag and provides great
throttle response, while the larger one helps it produce 400Nm and 178bhp.
It's smoother than the single-turbo
1.9-litre TiD, but can still get raucous when pushed hard. As with all
Saabs, the manual gearshift is rubbery, too. The four-cylinder petrol
alternatives are feeling their age now, but the 2.8-litre V6 turbo is an impressive performer.
The facelifted 9-3 is very much of the nip and tuck variety. The biggest
changes came at the front, with a distinctive eyebrow light across the top
of the main lamp. Elsewhere, there's a cleaner look, and the new
'ice-white' tail lamps are stylish. Offered in saloon and Sport Wagon
estate guises, the Saab offers a less expensive premium alternative to a
BMW 3-Series or Audi A3. A line-up of fleet-focused Airflow, Linear SE and
Vector Sport models are easy to follow, but while there's a large range of
engines, it's the TiD 120 and 150 units that sell most strongly.
A new interior in 2006 still didn't raise quality levels to the standards
of rivals, and while it did reduce the button-count, some of the switchgear
still appears dated. The soft seats offer excellent long-distance comfort
though, and ergonomically, the safe Saab is intuitive to use. Furthermore,
while rear legroom is not particularly generous, the saloon's boot is
decent and the Sport Wagon's cargo area is well thought out. Cleverly, the
middle section of the floor can be folded upwards and used to prevent
shopping bags from sliding around. Equipment levels also impress, and the
1.9-litre diesel variants prove economical -- more so than the slightly
thirsty petrol units. Where the Saab's sub-premium status shows is in
retained values, though. They're simply not as good as those of its German
competitors. With so many entry-level luxury car choices from Germany,
Japan and America, it's easy to overlook the Swedish Saab 9-3. But the
truth is, the Saab 9-3 could be a great match for buyers looking for a
spacious, safe and comfortable automobile with a proven safety record and a
distinctly modern attitude.
Today's 9-3 lineup is the latest in Saab's long line of near-luxury cars
dating back to the 1970s. Offered in a variety of body styles, with
abundant cargo space and frugal yet powerful engines, it has always
represented a competitively priced, character-laden alternative to the
me-too near-luxury offerings from other manufacturers.
Though the unique and practical 9-3 hatchbacks were discontinued after the
2002 model year, the 9-3 family continues to be offered in multiple body
styles: a four-door sedan, two-door convertible and four-door wagon, the
latter called "SportCombi." All utilize small-displacement, turbocharged engines that extract big power while
salvaging respectable fuel economy. Recent examples have been made
available with V6s as a step up from one of Saab's traditionally lively
four-cylinders. Furthermore, the Saab 9-3 tends to be priced aggressively,
at least in sedan and wagon form. Convertible models have always been a bit
less of a bargain.
Among the Saab 9-3's chief shortcomings are its lower performance
thresholds and somewhat cut-rate interior in comparison with German and
Japanese competitors. Still, it remains a good bet for near-luxury car
shoppers seeking something different in a class of look-alikes.Today's Saab
9-3 is sold in three body styles: sedan, SportCombi wagon and convertible.
Sedan and SportCombi models feel spacious, with low floors, upright windows
and seating for five, though three in the rear seat can be tight. Legroom
in particular is a sore spot. Convertible models have a rear seat for two
adults of small-to-average size. Cargo room in all models is generous.