The Best SAAB Trollhattan Never Made

The following note was sent in over the weekend by Jon C. Given recent events, I was in two minds about posting it as an article here. I’ve done so because as you’ll see, his thoughts, actions and story come from the right place, they’re done the right way.

Thanks Jon, for an insightful piece.


If I was to say to you that I just bought a car and told you the spec, what would you think it was? My new car is a black two litre 4 cylinder turbo with the engine running north – south and driving the front wheels . It is a five door hatch with folding rear seats and I can lie down when they are folded. The seats are leather and the fronts are heated.

You are probably guessing it’s an OG 900 turbo? Well no, it’s not but in my opinion it’s a car as vital to SAABs future as the new 9-5.

I can give you all the excuses but in reality when the lease came up on the current family car 6 months ago a SAAB was really not an option for us (the car is leased and leases were really not happening back then). So I sold out and went for an Audi – and looking at recent research I joined a large number of former SAAB owners.

It was only a few months into ownership that I realised what I had bought was actually an OG 900. When we were looking around at a replacement for the family 3 series we looked at all the premium options – BMW, Merc, Volvo Audi A4 etc and discounted them for the reason that I am sure many SAAB owners discounted them back in the 80s and 90s – with a young family (two daughters under 6) they just didn’t have the flexibility that we needed to load up bikes and toys and the rubbish for the dump. An estate seemed like a waste – hauling around all that extra glass during the week when it wasn’t needed. We actually were going down the 4×4 route – a 2wd Ford Kuga or maybe an Audi Q5. This was the eureka moment. I am guessing that when we saw the A5 it was like it was for some of you when you discovered the 900 – a car that ticked all of the boxes. Space, practicality, comfort, performance, luxury and beautifully built.

It even matches the old SAAB trick of getting better the more I drive it. Now before anyone thinks I am trying to encourage anyone to go out and buy one over a SAAB, I am not. If the lease had been up 12 months later there would be a new 9-5 on the driveway.

What I am saying however, is that the team in Trollhattan should take a long hard look at this car when developing the 9-3. It is a modern take on the combi-coupe, without the emotional baggage of the hardcore Saaber – like I say it took me a few months to realise that I had accidentally bought a SAAB. Not because of the badge but because all of the things that made me fall in love with SAAB when I was a kid in the 80s made me want this car. So can I say to everyone – it’s not about door handles, SIDs, or the location of the key. It’s about a genuinely great concept shining through no matter what the details are – the concept of a sporty, classy five door with the ability to cover long distances at speed.

I reflected on Swade’s recent Break and Line in the Sand posts, and I agree people need to be realistic in what they want and set expectations accordingly. I do know what is involved in creating a new car and it is easy for me to write this – it’s harder for all of those who do the real work to make it happen.

Looking back the 9-3 saloon was not a mistake because that was what the market wanted – what I think we can thank Audi for is showing that we can have our cake and eat it, too – saloons and hatches in the same range and it can even work financially the underneath of my car will be found under the A4 and Avant, A4 Allroad, A5 Coupe, Sportback and Convertible, Q5, A6 and Avant, A6 Allroad and A7. One platform could underpin every car in the SAAB range.

This will take time and SAAB needs to survive but a 9-3 combi coupe would be a good start and something for me to look forward to when I come to change. Audi rolled their tanks onto SAABs front lawn – it’s time we asked them nicely to go home.

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