We haven’t heard from Kaz in a little while here at the TS/SU collective so before you read this review, I’d better give you a little backstory.
Kaz is a regular here at the site and we’ve covered a good number of his cars over the years. Yes, that’s cars – plural. Kaz is on some sort of sweet deal where he gets a new Saab every five months or so. Well, a new GM car. He just happens to choose a Saab.
All that is going to change, of course, when Saab move away from the GM fold, so Kaz is quite upset by recent events. He’s managed to fight back the tears, though, and mail through this owner’s review of the Saab 9-3 TTiD SportCombi that’s currently gracing his driveway.
Take it away, Kaz……
There are no pictures here. Just words. But I think words are enough. When I first ordered the 9-3SW TTid Aero, I knew I was going to get a special car. Yes, I’m mainly a convertible guy, and I adore the V6 engine. But even I freely admit that the Aero TTid in Wagon form is probably the best all round vehicle in the Saab stable at the moment.
I write this review with a hint of sadness. With everything going on at GM and the move towards independance for SAAB, it means that they are now no longer available on the list of vehicles I can choose :(. I must say that I have certainly been spoilt, and am grateful to have been so lucky to savour so many different Saab configurations. In doing so, I have learnt one incredible thing from my experiences. Most cars have lost their character.
Thankfully, the 9-3 still has some. It has flaws, as do all cars, but the faults I’ve had during my Saab journey so far have endeared me more to the brand. There is a bond that develops between man and car which is often forgotten in the modern era. Can you really love an Audi or a BMW? I don’t think so. you can certainly admire them, but do they smile at you? No.
The 9-3’s I’ve had the pleasure of driving over the past 4 years or so have all been unique in their personality. I’ve had 2.0T’s, 2.8V6’s I’ve even sampled a 120bhp 1.9 Tid Arc. All have been fabulous. But you know what, the real gem is this TTid engine. There is a mutual respect when driving the 9-3. It’s almost as if the car is reassuring you that you can have fun, but it will still look after you. After many country road journeys’, I have learnt that this car is not just a car, it’s a friend.
The functionality and practicality of the Wagon is well known. What isn’t so well known is how easily that practicality is forgotten. You get used to it. So much so that I often forget how much you can actually pack into the car. Our house has a set of steep steps to the porch, and I have often cursed my over enthusiasm of loading the boot to the brim when the need comes to unload everything back into the house. The 9-3 wagon takes it all, and no matter how heavy the load, the amazing torque from the TTid engine just keeps driving forward.
Unladen the Aero TTid is more agile than the 2.8V6. There is a very tight country road close to my place and it consists of a long tight right hander, followed quickly by two tight left handers and a medium right hander. I’ve got through it much quicker in the TTid than I ever did in the 2.8V6. The 2.8V6 in comparison feels a little lumpen when changing direction, understeering a little more before the Re-Axis system kicks in properly and helps you round the corner.
The wave of torque the 9-3 Aero TTid offers is truly astonishing. Mid range, it will keep up with much more exotic material. All of which have barely a fraction of that thing called character. I could have sworn my Aero TTid winked at me the other day, some may call it a defective indicator bulb, but it has been fine ever since, and it happened after we had some immense fun on a road known as the A6 between Luton and Bedford.
The tip tronic system works well, and the sports mode is very effective. In normal mode, the gearbox can be a little slow to react at times, so if you are ever at a roundabout that requires a quick get-away, make sure you use the sport button in tip-tronic mode.
This will be my last Saab for a while. At least until we move out of the UK (that is another story). And I write this with a little tear in my eye. Saab needs to survive.
Like I said earlier, there are no pictures here, just words. SAAB may well get bullied by some corners of the press. It may be called nasty things by the Audi and BMW crowd, heck even some saabisti have lambasted my little friend. But you know what, I don’t care. I love my 9-3, it loves me. The world has lost many characters in the car world. Where are the modern Alfa Suds? Where are the modern 900 Turbos? They are dying. But at least there is a hint of that character still left in SAAB.
You get better handling in a BMW, you get better materials inside your Audis’, you get more horsepower in your Mercs. But you know, I really don’t care. You want to know why?
Because my car smiles at me.
Peace, and good luck to Saab. I always save a smile for you.