There’s been a heck of a lot of focus on the Saab 9-5 for the last few months. That’s OK, and quite natural. It’s not the only car in Saab’s stable, though, and as 100% Saab is so fond of reminding us in comments, the Saab 9-3 is a cracker of a car and he likes his Saab 9-3 just fine.
This isn’t 100% Saab writing the following, however, it’s a guy known in comments here on site as Spikeieos. He was one of the 397 people who took ownership of a new Saab in the US in November and as you’ll see in his review, below, he’s got a lot of good things to say about it.
Greetings Mr. Wade,
I know there has been quite a bit of new generation 9-5 luvin going on, but I would like to share my adoration for the good old 9-3 and what a great car it is. I was enthralled at first with the new 9-5, however its size and trying to find a manual at a nearby dealer led me towards the more nimble and less expensive 9-3. There may have been some murmurings about the age of the 9-3 platform, but with the updates its received through the years its still quite the action packed car IMHO.
This manual TX edition 9-3 XWD in glacier silver metallic kept turning my head, so I took a test drive and the rest is history with me and my new car.
Wow, what a car. Kudos to the dealer who ordered this great combination of contrasting colors that make the car stand out. People notice me going down the road, and I really like that. Not many other manufacturers allow anyone to order such a bold looking color combination . When friends look at the car with dark wheels, blue-green silver, and ice block tail lights I feel like they are looking at my classic 900: its a love it or hate it kind of feeling about the car, definitely a Saab.
Its easy to feel and see the pride these cars are now made with. I was surprised how solid the doors feel and how quiet the car now is compared to earlier model years. The quirk in this car is the unusual whistle when first turning the engine over from the returned secondary air intake from MY 2003 for the 2.0t engine. After that the engine goes silent and not felt until you provoke it like the 9-5.
What puts this car above the others in its class is the handling, its the reason I got the car. The combination of XWD and the 18″ rims with Pirelli P Zero Neros make this car stick to the road unbelievably well. There is rarely snow where I live to prove its bad weather traction, only endless dry roads and long stretches of blue sky 360 days a year in the desert. Only the adventurous now dare to ride with me, as everyone else dislikes holding on to the oh **** handles the whole time as I dart around town. I’m still waiting to learn how to make the tires squeal, the car seems pretty unflappable.
There is no longer a need to brake when going around corners, just give it some gas coming out of the corner and the eLSD kicks in whipping you around (just watch out for the police who may think you are driving recklessly because their car cannot do that). I also like the improved handling and upgraded dampers, the lack of a V6 seems to help the weight balance and there is little body roll when trying to make the eLSD do its job in the corners. Very few 4 door sedans can claim to be this much fun in the discounted price range of the 9-3.
My faults with the car are limited to basic things like the radio and horsepower. When a friend who owns a Chevy Cobalt exclaims: “hey, its got the same radio as my car!”, I fall silent. And just like the old Wendy’s commercial, I keep wondering about the Bose sound system: “Where’s the bass?”. As Swade has previously mentioned, unfortunately the engine does not have the power it should at 210hp, so a software upgrade is a very welcome boost for an Aero model, which from the factory has a 0-100kph time of merely 8.6 seconds. I am still waiting for my free Hirsch upgrade SaabUSA 🙂
I agree the platform is now aging, but that point is mute with the build quality, handling and technology available. Top Gear reviewed one of the new generations of the BMW 5 series a while back. Jeremy’s opening remark on the review stuck with me: BMW has gone and come up with a new 5 series, but he was not sure why because the outgoing model was an excellent car in its own right. I hope in the future we can look back at this 9-3 which has been developed and refined through such tumultuous times and feel the same way.
Best Regards, David