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?

Comments are open.

Small Saab vs Volvo C30

The Volvo C30 is one the cars I’m most curious about and am yet to drive. I reckon it looks fantastically cool, but particularly un-Swedish with it’s lack of practicality. I’ll get around to driving a C30 one of these days.
One of our regulars, Till72, had some wheel time in the C30 recently and he used that opportunity to put some considered thoughts about a possible future small Saab on paper.
My thanks to Till for sending them through……

While my 9-5 SC recieved a service and spring cleaning at my dealer I got a C30 as a loaner. It was quite interesting because I thought about getting one for my wife when we ended up with the Impreza some years ago. This was the first chance I had to drive one. While I had it for two days I took a bit of a closer look at the car with regard to what I’d expect from a future Saab 92.
I got a pretty much base 1,6 D model. The engine is nice and the 109 hp are enough to move the car, even a bit sporty if you push it. No real turbo lag and though I didn’t find a consumption display the 5,7 litre/100 km Volvo lists for city driving seems feasible after re-filling the car. Saab, it might be good to have such a small diesel engine for the European market. It might even fit a 9-3.
First thing when I get a loaner is fitting my child seat. And right then I remembered that Isofix-joints are an option with Volvo. I have to admit that I find this a bit lame for a manufacturer who claims to build some of the safest cars in the world. Saab, please keep installing them as standard.
Getting into a small car is always interesting for me as I’m quite tall (1,98 m). Seat position is too high, maybe sport seats would do a better job. And what I felt is that the driver space is extremely narrow and due to that, not too comfortable. (I won’t start talking about the usability of the back seat behind me.) The C30 really feels like a small car. Our Impreza (which is 15 cm longer but with a 2cm shorter wheelbase) had a much roomier feel. Saab, please make a small car usable for taller drivers, too. Well I think you will since Victor isn’t too small, either.
The button dash consists of lots of small buttons side by side with the climate control hidden behind the stick. Looks nice but hard to use (won’t even think about using them with gloves). Looks like Volvo got lost in design with that. Saab, I know you got better solutions. Bring’em on.
One thing I like is that there are two seperate back seats. You wouldn’t want to sit three there (not even children) since it’s really narrow so I like that style. Saab, maybe waste a thought about that.
The trunk…the size is ok but the back door is so narrow that you have a hard time getting a baby buggy in, for example. It would fit, but you end up folding down the back seats just to navigate it in. The back looks nice but it’s far from being practical. Saab, please give the 92 a proper hatch.
Those two days reminded me why I chose Saab ten years ago when looking at the two Swedish brands. And it showed me that it was a good move to get the Impreza back when we needed a small car. And I’m really looking forward to Saabs interpretation of a small car.

Saab 9-5 vs BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Volvo

There have been a few discussions already here and in the Swedish press about the pricing of the new Saab 9-5.
Jaap O has done a little homework for us all and as you can see, the 9-5 stacks up quite competitively. Something like this might have helped out Dagens Industri last week.
It’s interesting to see the different prices charged for different options by different companies. How come Audi’s alarm is so much cheaper than everyone else’s? And why is BMW’s Bluetooth so much more?
Anyway, questions like those aside, what this points out is that the Saab 9-5 is indeed competitively priced in the Swedish market, especially after you factor in common options and especially against the German competition that Saab sees as its target.
My thanks to Jaap for the work done. Click to enlarge.

Winter cars – Saab vs BMW

A few notes that seem to have come together in a serendipidous manner.
A comment earlier today from Tom, in the UK:

Here’s a little post to cheer us up – here in Oxfordshire in the UK we’ve had a rather cold spell, with the vast amount of 6 cms of snow. I drove home tonight & went past 3 BMW’s being towed by land rovers. laughed my arse off πŸ™‚

And an image posted just now by davidgmills
With half the world covered by snow for a fair chunk of the year, who says there’s no room for Saab in the marketplace?

New BMW 5er sets a heady standard for 2010 Saab 9-5

The new F10 BMW 5-series was officially announced online today and even without a post about here, comments have been abuzz.
This new 5er will hit the showrooms in March 2010, so the new Saab 9-5 will have to go head-to-head against a brand new competitor in this executive class. As with the Saab 9-5, pricing hasn’t been released for all markets yet, so it’s hard to know how competitive that situation will be, but we can do a few comparitives.
Here’s what the fuss is all about.
Looks are always a personal matter. Each to their own, but personally I think this, like most BMWs in recent history, is on a par with Britney Spears. You feel compelled to look because of the fuss, but once you get a glimpse you know that you’d never really want to go there. Many do, however.
So….. fussy aggression or cleaner lines?
2010 Saab 9-5
It really is your own choice. I wouldn’t mind a slightly more aggressive looking body on the Aero version of the 9-5, but that doesn’t take away from my appreciation of the presence this car has, especially in person.
BMW will naturally have the edge at the upper end of the engine range, simply because they go to capacities that Saab don’t come close to. History shows, however, that the majority of sales are at the smaller end of the engine range.
BMW will offer a 150kW 523i and 190kW 528i that’ll both have naturally aspirated 3-litre six cylinder engines. Saab’s power outputs at these levels will be lower, but the engines will be much smaller, too – the 1.6T will produce 132kW and the 2.0T will produce 162kW, which will sit quite nicely between those two BMW variants.
Lovers of oil burning engines will get BMW’s 520d, which has a quite perky 135kW engine. This is going to be the real winner in Europe for BMW, with ability to sprint from stop to 100kph in a sliver over 8 seconds. Saab will offer only the 2.0 TiD at first (118kW and 10.1 seconds) but they will follow up with a TTiD engine some time later. I am assured. And it’ll have XWD.
Next up for BMW is the 225kW/400Nm twin-scroll turbo six, which will be matched nicely on paper with Saab’s 221kW/400Nm twin-scroll turbo 2.8T.
Above this, we’re in rarified air where Saab will only compete if Mr von Koenigsegg and friends decide to go nuts. I suggest they won’t. Not for a few years, at least. The new 9-3 is more of a priority than a half dozen super quick 9-5s.
So, the advantage?
In terms of the petrol engines that most people will actually buy, it’s horses for courses. I don’t have the emissions figures for both to compare them (and that’ll have a large bearing, at least in Europe) but either offering will be more than capable of delivering a fun drive.
I’ve driven the 9-5 with the 2.0T BioPower and it was a blast, so I’ve got ever confidence that Saab’s higher end offering will be killer fun.
In terms of the diesel, well, Saab could do with that TTiD engine, though the TiD (and the 1.6T) is going to prove to be a very attractive business leasing option in many Euro markets.
If you’re after 400hp, then bless you for your good fortune.
This is totally subjective, once again, but it’s no secret that I love Saab interiors and the new Saab 9-5 – with the possible exception of the front seat headrests – is no exception. The materials were first rate, as was the finish. And there’s very little I’d change with the design.
2010 Saab 9-5
BMW’s interiors, in my experience, are very well screwed together and there’s a good feeling of space there, but the design and material choices just aren’t for me.
In terms of interior amenities, the large majority of vehicles purchased will most likely be similarly equipped, but the BMW will come with a longer options page with more toys available for the gotta-have-it crowd.
I’d happily sit in the 9-5’s interior for hours. The BMW I’d be happy to get a lift in.
Again, at the volume levels, there’s not going to be much to separate them. BMW will likely have a few more offerings because they’ve been at this stuff for a long time and have been successful at it, but those extra offerings will mostly be in the options list and will mostly have a hefty price tag.
The 8-speed auto transmission, for instance. It’s great to say you’ve got one available, but how many are they going to sell at the premium they’ll ask for it? But, at least they’ve got one. This is something that will take Ksegg and Saab some time.
Things like lane departure warning systems, head-up displays, active cruise control and a bunch of other features are listed with both cars. The only difference will be how much you have to pay to get them, and that’s unknown at this point.
BMW at the upper levels and possibly by a smidge at the volume level too, but that’s not to say that the Saab is poorly equipped. In fact, It’s the best equipped Saab ever.
I’ll leave at that for now. You folks are better than me at this sort of stuff anyway.
Suffice to say, BMW’s resources and experience show in the vast range that they’re available to offer with their new 5-series.
The new Saab 9-5 will definitely offer a viable option to those looking at the base-medium level of this series, which will be the vast majority of people. Where the Saab will possibly miss out is on the upper level cachet.
This is a much smaller part of the volume equation, but part that’s very useful to leverage the rest of your range. Go ahead and read the press releases on this news car and the associated journalist’s writeups. They’ll be gushing about the new high-end tech stuff and 75% of the article will be about that. The fact that that high-end gear will possibly be seen in about 25% of sales doesn’t come into play, but that’s the advantage of having it.
I can live without a higher end 400hp competitor. But jeez, that TTiD would be nice.

Help ‘Me’ – the progress report

Last week the community here was tasked with providing advice to a guy named ‘Me’. He was deciding between the purchase of a red Saab 9-3 SportCombi, or a red Saab 9-5 SportCombi.
46 comments were submitted, so naturally ‘Me’ felt compelled to provide some follow-up.
Consider yourself coming along for a complete ride through the purchase process.
Saturday was my “visit the dealership” day.
As I moved to this region only in August ’08, I didn’t know where the next SAAB dealer was, or which is the best in the event there were more than one “near by”.
So last Monday I searched for a SAAB dealership though the SAAB site. OK, I’ve got 2 dealerships within a 65km radius and yes, I really mean that both dealerships are about 65km from home :-(. When I lived in Frankfurt, I had three or four dealerships near-by.
I chose one and scheduled a visit for Sat 31. On the telephone he couldn’t guarantee that I would find the cars I wanted to test drive. I tried to make a plan B with the other dealer, but it was clear on Saturday I would be driving 65km to a small dealership in a even smaller town.
The vendor was the son of the owner. The mother of the vendor kept us occupied with some coffee as we were waiting for him, and the only car in their showroom was a 9-3X TTiD FWD. Despite these small beginnings, it was not a mistake to come here.
They have been dealers for SAAB since 1984, and they want to stay with SAAB till the brand disappears. We had a nice talk about SAAB and the world.
He has said to me, Bob Lutz, as the 9-X BioHybrid was presented to the dealers, said to them: “Next year, you will have this car in your dealerships.”
We talked about the new 9-5, the fact that he was expecting the NG9-5SC not earlier than March ’11. That he had more customers asking for the 9-4x than for the 9-5. That some customers were preoccupied about the NG 9-5 being too big for their garage. That the price range of the NG9-5 SS would start at about 34.000 € (1.8t Linear). The price-list from “xigxag” seems quite realistic.
We talked about the engines available, and he said to me he needs the big diesel to get Audi and BMW customers into his showroom. GM had already presented the 2.9 V6 Diesel to the dealers around a year ago, and 4 or 5 months ago GM cancelled the engine. We also talked about the 190HP 2.0l TTiD engine; this engine has disappeared, even from the Opel catalogues.
We then stopped at an Aero-X poster he had and I said to him, I heard maybe they (K’segg) will build it as a halo car in small amounts, and he replied to me, he would know about customers who would not only be able to buy such a halo car (we both thought about a price tag similar to the 8C ) but would also be willing to do it.
Anyway, I’ve forgotten what I wanted to tell you about my decision.

  • My son says the car has to be red.
  • My wife says the car has to be a 9-5
  • And I say the engine has to be a hirsch’ed 2.3t.

My wife wants to talk with her pillow about it, but if she gives the OK and my company does it also, then I will be driving a red 9-5SC by March.
But I am in a hurry as the dealer has to order the car before Christmas. SAAB will cease production by the end of March, and will not accept more orders for the 9-5SC after New Year.
And, the European Car Club (ACE) has a contract with SAAB that ends by the end of this Year. SAAB is offering a 30% discount to any member of the ACE, which makes it possible for me to Hirsch the car πŸ™‚
Today I’ve driven a 9-3 TTiD MY ’09 and a rather old MY ’05 9-5 Wagon 2.3t (Hirsch’ed).
The 9-3 had the modern looks, but it is too small inside, or the centre console is too big. At least so says my wife.
I tried to compare both engines. The TTiD is a quite refined engine, you are quite fast (as in a small amount of time) really fast (as in high velocity), but you don’t notice it, so if you can accelerate to 200 kph fast, but you don’t notice, what’s the point in doing that?
On the other side the 2.3t was a little bit more rough, you had the sound, and because of this you feel much more the acceleration. And you reach the 200kph fast enough πŸ™‚
The decision is taken, although I’m not sure about the rims. I will take one of the four “standard” griffin rims, but I don’t know which.
I still have some time to decide 😎

Help ‘Me’!

If you’ve been hanging around here for a little while now, you’re probably familiar with a reader/commenter named ‘Me’.
I know, it’s a little confusing. Everytime I write something credited to ‘Me’ I figure you’re going to think I’ve gone a little nutty. Anyway…..
‘Me’ has one of those delightful dilemmas on his plate and he’d like some help. I’ve given my thoughts privately via email, but we thought we’d open things up to get the opinions of others, too.
From ‘Me’

Hi Swade,
I need some advice, at least an opinion about it.
I can have a company car, and I can choose whatever car I want (there is a leasing quote maximum), so I am looking for a SAAB (what else?).
These are my 4 options. All four are Red and SC, and I have chosen cars with similar prices.

  • 9-5 SC 2.3t M5 (185bhp) Vector Griffin Edition (lots of bells and whistles)
  • 9-5 SC 1.9 TiD M5 (150bhp) Vector Griffin Edition (lots of bells and whistles)
  • 9-3 SC 2.0T M6 (210bhp) Vector (less whistles more power)
  • 9-3 SC 1.9TTiD M6 (180bhp) Vector (less whistles more power)

Which one would you choose? (a 99T was not an option πŸ˜‰ )

And from ….er ……me. As in Swade, the real me as I sit here writing this:

Tough choice, but one that you can’t really go wrong with.
Personally, I’d say goodbye to the outgoing 9-5 by getting the 2.3t. You get a great Saaby engine and all the bells and whistles. Sounds like a good combination to me.
If looks are a priority, then maybe the 9-3 2.0T. Personally I think the 9-3 looks better in red than the 9-5. But if such superficial things aren’t important to you then I’d go for the 9-5.
Just my opinion, though.

Your thoughts?
Comments are open so please enlighten ‘Me’ – and me – with your pearls of wisdom.

Saab 9-3 Viggen vs Saab Turbo X

Oh, what a sweet dilemma….
Seth has sent me an email with the following:
Here’s a small back story: I bought my 5 door black on black 2000 Viggen in ’05, & have put over 60k miles on her. I’ve done a lot of work; Viggen rescue kit, rear ARB, upgraded rear brakes, SS brake lines, iPod input, bluetooth kit, etc etc. More recently however, I’ve been doing more repairs, than preventative maintenance. It’s 10 years old, so stuff is starting to break. I’m beginning to wonder if I should trade up…
Do you think a Turbo-X is a worthy “upgrade” from the Viggen? It would be newer, presumably under warranty…but then again, it will eventually be 10yrs old too, just like my Viggen now…
What are your thoughts?

I’ll write here what I wrote to him in my email response:
Keep the Viggen and get the Turbo X anyway!!
Unfortunately, Seth’s finances don’t allow for such a dream situation so in tale worthy of the wisdom of Solomon, he has to choose between two awesome machines.
The Saab 9-3 Viggen is an incredibly flawed vehicle, which is why I love it so much. With the right modifications it goes from incredibly flawed to simply incredible and it sounds like Seth has done a lot of that work and added some more creature comforts as well.
The Turbo X is a superior vehicle in every way, but whilst my seat time in an X is limited, I have to wonder if I could love one the way I’ve loved a Viggen. Has it got the personality?
I’m quite sure the big exhaust note, sports seats and incredible grip could wash away the pain eventually, but I’d be moving heaven and earth to keep the Viggen as well as get the Turbo X. At least sell it to a friend so you can keep an eye on it and buy it back in the future.
Get the X. But prepare to miss the Viggen more than you could imagine possible.
Them’s my thoughts. Please provide your own wisdom for Seth in comments.

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