Buyer advice – Honda Civic vs 2008 Saab 9-3

I got an email while I was in the air from Ryan A, a guy in Michigan who is looking at possibly purchasing his first Saab.

The car he’s looking at is a 2008 model Saab 9-3 2.0T. It’s Laser Red, has 34K miles on it and the dealer seems quite reluctant to do a lower price than what Ryan’s already quoted.

Ryan’s current car is a 2007 Honda Civic coupe. This is a very reliable car and as Ryan will be stretching himself financially if he buys the Saab, he thought it might be wise to write in and seek some counsel from the SU regulars.

I would be a first time Saab driver — have always been in love with their unique quirkiness and their design. Wanted something a bit more refined and sophisticated. Just never thought I’d ever be able to afford one. The one I saw was at my Honda dealer, sitting by itself in its Laser Red majesty, when I took my Civic in for routine maintenance.

My question was simply going to be, Am I insane for trading in a car renowned for its reliability and ease of ownership for a vehicle that may be discontinued, has a shaky reliability record, and less mpgs? Honestly, I make a very modest salary, and the thought of having to make expensive repairs weighed heavily on my mind.

Not to mention finding a reputable and experienced independent mechanic, etc.


My take on all this……

Fear not when it comes to discontinuation. Saab were sold to Spyker and they’re making cars in Trollhattan right now. And even if the whole thing were to fall over tomorrow, what you’ve got is a car that any GM dealer should be able to provide parts for in years to come anyway (though your resale would take a hit if that were to happen – which it won’t).

The reliability record of the Saab 9-3 is pretty decent, actually, with earlier models having some problems with dash panels and electrics in some instances. Mechanically, the cars have been pretty good, with only the springs proving to be consistent recent issues (and fixable on GM’s dime with some research).

By the 2008 model, the car was pretty well sorted. Honda reliability is very good so it’s hard to make claims for the Saab that can compare, but the 2008 was a good, solid car.

In every other area, performance, comfort, safety, amenity, fun to drive, I think that 2.0T engine and car will have you feeling pretty darn good. It’s a very enjoyable drive and a great model Saab.

If you are concerned about the deal, however, I wouldn’t pull the trigger until a deal came that you were comfortable with. No need to extort the dealer here, but set yourself a price and if you can’t get it – walk away and wait for another one. You gotta sleep at night, right.

I hope you and the dealer can both give a little and I’m looking forward to the chance to show some photos of your new car here on SU.


What advice would you have for Ryan, folks?

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