Oi!! An actual Saab car review: the Saab 9-3x

I’m pleased to be able to take a quick break from all this business stuff and bring your attention to an actual, real-life Saab review!
The guys at The Garage Blog were fortunate enough to get some wheel time inside a Saab 9-3x recently and they’ve recorded some thoughts for your perusal.
Saab 9-3x
We have a nice intro…..

I think I might have actually shed a tear when I drove up to the Trollhättan offices of Saab. I am not some Saab groupie [with this as] my Graceland, rather I saw what was once an innovative auto manufacturer wondering if there will be a tomorrow. I was invited by an old friend and former Saab employee to spend two days road testing two Saabs which may or may not arrive in Canada… The new Saab 93X and 94X.

I should add, our writer is Canadian, as is The Garage Blog.
He feels a great affinity with Sweden, too. Other than in hockey terms, however, I can’t say I’ve noted the same Canadian-Swedish affection when I’ve visited there or talked with family.

Besides the landscape, we share quite a bit with the Swedes. Whether it is the weather, universal health care or hockey, we have more in common with Sverige than our neighbours to the south.

And then we get to the car. Our reviewer is driving a FWD 9-3x with the TTiD engine, which is significant as far as I’m concerned.

Driving at highway speed the wind and engine noise is so faint. The seats are very comfortable. While I wish they had more lateral support, I must say that I could spend hours in these seats and arrive at my destination fresh…..
….The Saab’s 1.9 diesel accelerates smoothly and quickly off the line. The diesel does produce around 295 lb/ft @1850 rpms. The car is surefooted in the twists and turns, and is quiet enough to listen to Diana Krall’s new CD without cranking the stereo…..
……My time behind the wheel ended quicker than I wished. Jörg the dealer will lead us into downtown Göteborg.

It really did make a positive impression, which is a good thing. Although it’s really just a model evolution, I believe this is a really important model for Saab.
The conclusion, albeit more about the TTiD than the car:

Whoever becomes the new owners of Saab I have a couple of pieces of advice.
Don’t abandon the Canadian market and please don’t use Gm’s market research on the North American market re: diesels. Canadians love their diesels. Just look at the sales of VW and Mercedes. Clean diesels sell in Canada just like they do in the rest of the world.

You can read the full review over at The Garage Blog.

Saab 9-3 XWD review from Channel 4 – can someone explain this?

It’s almost 1am as I start writing this. I’ve got an early morning tomorrow but I couldn’t let this pass.
A few years ago I read a review of the Saab 9-3 where the reviewer gave the car either 3, 3.5 or 4 stars out of 5 for safety. That’s despite the fact that the Saab 9-3 is a 5-star rated car with EuroNCAP.
That probably still remains the benchmark for stupid automotive journalism, but this review from Channel4 is a strong contender.
Firstly, how is it that you can rate car in six different categories, give it an average of 3 stars in mathematical terms (17 of 30 possible stars) and yet rate it as only a 2-star car over all? Ever heard of rounding up?
Even if they’re weighting the categories, surely safety (which they do give 5 stars for) outweighs some of the other categories – it does in all those fancy consumer surveys.
And then there’s stuff like this, which speaks for itself:

Space in the rear is decent for headroom, but there’s limited kneeroom and tall drivers will struggle to sit behind a tall driver.

I imagine they will. It’s hard enough to share a driver’s seat with a small driver, let alone another tall one!! Especially if that driver’s seat is in the rear!
Look, I know that the Saab 9-3 is a flawed vehicle in some areas. I’ve gone on enough about the interior and don’t need to do so again. And maybe the Haldex XWD is too good, too precise, to provide the active hang-your-arse-out driving style that some of these journos prefer.
But to me, this review just doesn’t make sense.
I’m off to bed. I think I’ll dream of doing slalom runs in an XWD Saab with motoring writers as witches hats.
On the positive side, they do have some excellent photos…..

Saab vs Audi vs Mercedes vs BMW vs Lexus

Regular TS visitor and commenter, David W, recently attended a promotional event for the new Audi A4. The event gave attendees the chance to drive not only the new A4 Quattro, but three comparative cars in the Mercedes Benz C300 4matic, the BMW 328 ix, and the Lexus IS250 AWD.
Naturally, David took the event as an opportunity to evaluate his own Saab 9-3 2.0T against the competition.
These are his thoughts but the images are just generic web images of the cars, except for the last image, which is David’s actual car.
My thanks go to David for taking the time to put these thoughts down on ‘paper’ and sending them in to share here at TS.
I recently had the pleasure of attending the Audi A4 Experience. It was an event that showcased the new A4 against it’s “competition” consisting of the M-B C300 4matic, BMW 328 ix, and the Lexus IS250 AWD. They were all comparably equipped, none had a sport package, all had factory wheels and tires inflated to factory recommended pressure, all were fully loaded and ran side by side through an autocross track.
I will start this off with my frame of reference, my 2007 SAAB 60th Anniversary Convertible. While I could not take it on the track, after 24,000 miles in it and another 45,000 in my old 2003 9-3 SS, I have a pretty good idea of how they would have reacted.
First off, the Mercedes-Benz C300 4matic.
When they first came out, I was not a fan of the exterior. After some time and seeing many on the road, I have grown to respect it’s aggressive front and sweeping side lines. It looks better each time I see it. The interior however, was another matter.
The car was silver with a black interior. The seats were very hard and somewhat flat. The dashboard was atrocious. It looked like a big, black blob of rubber with very little style. It really made me appreciate the SAAB. While maybe not as sturdy as the Benz, it is far more aesthetically pleasing and easy to use.
On the track, the power was good, but the handling was not up to par. The steering was not communicative, and the car leaned a lot in the sharp corners. I have experienced quick lane changes and sharp corners in my SAAB, but never felt either of them lean that much. I came away less impressed with the C300 than when I started, as did another participant who referred to it as an expensive Buick.
Second came the BMW 328 ix.
I have not been a BMW fan since their disastrous ownership of MG-Rover, as my heart also belongs to my 1972 MGB. But this had nothing to do with how much fun it would be to test one on the track. After all, it is supposed to be the Ultimate Driving Machine, right?
The BMW’s were silver with black interior as well. The exteriors are very BMW, I think the 3 Series are their best designs. The interior was much better than the Benz, with more comfortable seats and a nicer looking dash. However, it still did not look as good as my SAAB’s. I am really spoiled with the 2 tone anniversary sport seats and door trims. The SAAB’s climate controls are far and away much easier to use. It took me way too long to turn off the BMW’s climate control as there was no off button to be found. I ended up turning the fan all the way down before it went off.
On the track, the BMW handled better than the Benz, but still was not as entertaining as I expected. The steering was my biggest disappointment. It felt thick and numb. There was no feel, no feedback, no anything that I was expecting. After this, I wondered what makes automotive journalist wet themselves every time they drive one? Must be the M’s???
Next came the Lexus IS250 AWD.
I really like the way this car looks inside and out. Ours were dark gray with light gray and black interior. The seats were very comfy (and air conditioned a-la the old Saab 9-5) and the dash looked great with a mix of black and gray plastics with silver and wood trim. Good so far.
On the track, it’s 204 hp 2.5 lt. 6 cylinder was no match for the AWD hardware. It felt hopelessly underpowered. The steering had more feel to me than the BMW’s, but was not quick enough. It took the most turns of the wheel to get around the track than the others, and when it did, it leaned the most and the seats had no grip. Again, I came away less impressed than when I started.
Last, was the Audi A4 Quattro.
Out of all the cars there, the Audi really shined (it should since this was an Audi event, right?) These were red with a tan interior. While the exterior is more evolution than revolution, it looked good (I love the LED light pipes on the headlights, like the 9-3… )
The interior would have benefited from a different color as the light tan mixed with the light wood on the dash was not to my liking. Darker wood or more brushed aluminum would have been better. They do have great fit and finish.
On the track, Audi’s new drive select system was pretty sweet. It gave the sharpest handling, the quickest, most precise steering and impressive power and acceleration. Of the 4 cars there, it would be the most able to tempt me out of a SAAB.
But there is a catch, a really BIG catch…the price.
$48,000 USD for this A4. Not an S4. Not an A4 S-line. Not an A4 Cabriolet. But a fully loaded A4 sedan. It did have the sweet 3.2 lt. 6 cylinder with 268 hp (the most there.) But I could not get past $48,000 for this A4.
Audi was very wise not to have a Turbo X or even the 2009 9-3 Aero there, as it would not have worked out in Audi’s favor. They made a point about how the others there did not utilize AWD for their more powerful models. They neglected to mention that SAAB (and Subaru) did. While 265 hp and 243 lbs. ft. of torque sound nice, 280 hp and 295 lbs. ft. of torque for the SAAB sound better while costing less!
Getting back into my SAAB, I realized again what a great car these are.
It never feels underpowered, even after this experience. It handled and steered just as sweetly as before and has the BEST SEATS IN THE BUSINESS! Bottom line, I was never happier to be back in my 2.0T with the top down and a smile on my face! Thank you Audi for a great experience, but I will be sticking with SAAB.

Saab 9-3 Viggen Review

Continuing the weekend’s Viggen love-fest…..
If you own or otherwise love the Saab 9-3 Viggen then you’re going to find at least the first part of this review difficult. You may even want to throw something at the screen. Hang in there.
It gets better. Much better, in fact.
The following comes from Fifth Gear’s Modern Classics section.
The previous generation Saab 9-3 will never go down in history as one of the all-time great classics. Indeed, in Saab circles, the car is positively frowned upon for not having the requisite weirdness, longevity or left-of-centre image as the brand would have liked. Then, of course, there was the simple and unavoidable fact that, under the skin, there lurked the platform and basic running gear of a 1988 Vauxhall Cavalier. Not even a Vectra, but the five-door hatchback beloved of minicab drivers, banger racers and Ispon P40-wielding wheelarch repair fanatics.
To fans of the marque, the previous 9-3 was what could be deemed ‘not a proper Saab’. egatives aside, though, let’s look at what the car did have going for it. First of all, the wheelarches weren’t as rot prone as those on a Cavalier. Secondly, by the time the 9-3 debuted in 1998, there had been some major tweaks to ensure the original platform was at least capable of mixing it with modern traffic, unlike the outwardly identical 900, which used unmodified Cavalier running gear.
Saab 9-3 ViggenThird, and perhaps most importantly, was that despite the creativity-crushing presence of parent firm General Motors (a wilderness that, thankfully, the US giant appears to be slowly withdrawing from), there was still a bunch of hardy enthusiasts plucking away at keeping the traditional virtues of the Saab brand alive and well.
These were men who remembered the days when the 99 and 900 Turbo models not only introduced the world to affordable, accessible turbocharged saloon cars, but also gave a rip-roaring debut to the delights of torque steer, neck-snapping turbo lag and the adrenaline rush of driving a car that, although flawed, was brutally quick and utterly exhilarating.
By day, these same men were churning out interior redesigns to try and disguise the switchgear of old Vauxhalls on silver diesel-powered rep-spec 9-3 hatchbacks, but by night they were busy working on a car that would share its name (and performance characteristics) with a fighter jet.
The work of this covert performance division finally resulted in the 9-3 Viggen, which made its debut in 1999.
Power came from a heavily tweaked version of the 2.3-litre engine used in top-of-the-range 9-3s (and, refreshingly in a GM-policed environment, still exclusive to the Swedish maker), while visual identifiers were suitably subtle, yet noticeable.

Read moreSaab 9-3 Viggen Review

Saab Turbo X: best review yet

Thanks to Jamie W for sending me a link to the best Saab Turbo X review I’ve seen so far.
It’s not the best because it’s a glowing piece full of nothing but praise. Not at all. As a matter of fact they only award it three stars out of five, which isn’t exactly fireworks and marching bands.
It’s the best review I’ve seen because it’s objective and honest, and it doesn’t resort to lazy prose to tell you the story of what is Saab’s most advanced vehicle to date.
The review is from Fifth Gear.

Never mind the looks, though; what really matters is what you can’t see, its four-wheel drive. This is Saab’s first ever four-wheel drive system, but it’s one of the most advanced in the world – as well it needs to be, given that Audi’s famous Quattro system came to market many years ago – and General Motors was so impressed with Saab’s work that the Swedish company will now lead all of GM’s future work in this area…..
….Probably the most important thing is that, yes, the XWD does its job, but you have to really concentrate to spot it in action. That alone is a sure sign that Saab’s engineers have done their job well….
….Away from the track and out on the road, it’s that feeling of safety that is the abiding memory of a drive in the Turbo X. You may not have the kind of sensations that you would in a BMW 3 series, for example, but for crossing country in comfort at a decent lick, this Saab is hard to beat.

That’s a taster for you. There’s three pages of it and anyone considering the Turbo X should read it.
It’s not the best car in the world, but it’s the best 9-3 that’s come so far, and if you’re into Saabs then this is the ducks guts.

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