I drove a Maserati GT and here’s why I’d still buy a Saab….

The headline above might seem extraordinary to some. I used to run this as a regular series of comparos, with stories written by readers who had drive Brand X and given some thought as to how their Saab stacked up.
Aussie Saabnut, Brendan B, had some seat time in a Maserati Gran Tourismo over the weekend and he’s been kind enough to email some thoughts to our Australian email circle, as well as some photos.
I’ll tie things up with some thoughts at the end.
I just spent the weekend testing out a Maserati Gran Turismo (sorry for camera phone pics, I forgot to charge my camera’s batteries). The interior quality and attention to detail was pretty bad for a $300,000 car. A few things that really stood out were the door air bag covers, the centre clock and the sun visors (which seemed to be made out of cardboard).
When it came time to operate the Sat Nav it was impossible to use, unless you wanted to go to Palm Beach. I’m still yet to drive a Turbo-X, but from what I’ve seen the fit and finish and sat nav is miles better in the Turbo-X.
The seats were absolutely crap, very hard and too much lumbar, with no lumbar support device to dial it back. The weirdest thing about the car was that when the passenger adjusts their seat heater it shows up on the drivers instrument display. When I was riding in the back, behind my 6ft tall friend, I had plenty of leg room and my head wasn’t touching the roof, however the seat back was too low and made the seat uncomfortable.
Good points were the exhaust note, which is simply amazing. Maybe I did a bit too much driving around in first gear. It sounds awesome from outside the car. Also the “look at me” factor was way better than we expected. We’ve found Darling St in Balmain to be the best street cred test. Driving up and down in a Black Porsche GT3 and people quickly whip out the wanker sign, or the little pinky gesture, and in a Grey Audi R8 you go past unnoticed. However in the Gran Turismo people were stopping to watch us drive past, and/or pointing us out to friends, even getting the thumbs up from a few people.
Overall I was disappointed with the car because when I was growing up I had a love of Maseratis. The Gran Turismo definatly has the looks to match the price. However if the front seats and sat nav was fixed I’d start reconsidering parting with $300k. Tidy up the fit and finish and you’ve got a winner, although maybe I shouldn’t have looked at German cars first.
The next (fun) car in the lineup is looking like it’ll be a Lambo. I’m keen to have a drive of a XWD car, so I’ve found out there is a 2009 Saab 9-3 Aero XWD press car. However it’s an automatic 🙁
My thoughts……
Brendan is doing these test drives as part of a new website he’s starting up with some friends. Many of you will know him as the guy behind the Australian Saab 99 register and he’s also recently bought a crashed Viggen convertible in order to straighten it out and get it back on the road.
I think I can speak for him and say that in no way was he looking to place the Turbo X in the same class of vehicle as the Maserati. The Maser is an exotic and has the price and powerplant to match.
The point here that I’d like to relate is the Swedish concept of Lagom that some have mentioned here in the last year or so. The concept of something being “just enough” or “just the right amount”.
A$300,000 will buy you a Maserati with killer looks, a fat engine and a heart-racing exhaust note, yet it won’t buy you perfection. When you consider that this car costs 10 times as much as many other forms of adequate transportation, it really should be close to perfection (as should any car in that price range).
A base Saab, here in Australia at least, costs around 20% more than your average piece of adequate transportation (think Toyota Camry) but it comes with Lagom – just the right amount of equipment, safety, utility and driver satisfaction: the things that make it an experience rather than just adequate transportation.
The excess is minimal and most will consider the quality in 2009 to be pretty darn good. Go higher in the range and it will cost you more, but you’ll get much better performance and still at a cheaper price than many of the more exotic competitors.
The rich can have their Maseratis. I’ll just enjoy looking at them and keep on enjoying my Saabs, which have just the right amount of performance, comfort, safety and utility for my needs.

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