Clarkson and the 9-3SC

This may well be the best car review I’ve ever read. Jeremy Clarkson, from the BBC’s TopGear program, reviewing the Saab 9-3 SportCombi Aero for the Times Online.

When you click on the link above, you may well believe that you’ve landed in the wrong place. Just keep reading.

Here’s a few snippets:

There’s no real need for lots of dials in a modern, computer-controlled car. But they are still fitted, in greater numbers than ever. You still find oil pressure gauges, volt meters, rev counters and so on. The new Bugatti has a dial showing how much power you’re using, while the Rolls-Royce Phantom has one showing how much you have left.

But no car I’ve ever driven has a cockometer, a dial that shows how much of a penis you look as you drive from place to place.

Take the new Range Rover Sport. If you are black or orange, then it doesn’t make you look like a cock at all. But if you are a white marketing executive, then your cockometer would be right into the red zone.

After guaging a few other notable vehicles on the cockometer, there’s this…..

But the winner here, the least cockish car that money can buy, is actually the Saab 9-3 estate you see above. If you put a Hummer H2 or a Dodge pick-up truck at one end of the scale, then this is at the other. It’s not a Hawaiian Day-Glo tank. It’s a special forces sniper.

Quiet. Unassuming. And invisible. Until you pull the trigger.


….the best thing is the price. The range starts at less than £18,000. And even the 2.8 litre Aero model I tested, which comes with pretty well all the toys, is less than £29,000. You’d struggle to put a similarly sized, similarly fast German car on the road for less.

And what if you succeeded? What if you did end up with a BMW or an Audi estate car? You’d be constantly aware that no cockometer was fitted because if it was it’d be constantly hovering around Defcon 1. It’d be constantly reminding you that you’d been a sheep.

It’s a fantasic read. Go check it out the link above.

UPDATE: TopGear gives a lukewarm reception to the new Saab 9-5 in a non-Clarkson writeup.

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  1. I agree, a great read. My favourite bit is
    “You’ve deliberately gone your own way, deliberately bought something that isn’t a BMW or a Merc or an Audi. And in the process you’ve ended up with something that’s not only a little bit different, but also rather good.”

  2. Is is parochial to think that this is the best bit:

    >>”The car I drove had a brand new Australian-built 2.8 litre V6 engine that will one day find its way into various Vauxhalls, Opels and even the next generation of Alfa Romeos.”

    Anyway, it sounds like this 9-3C is everything a Saab should be.

    I must say, Swade, that your enthusiasm for the marque has had me turning my head. Mmm… 9000 Aero.

  3. Ben, best seats ever and acceleration in midrange faster than a Ferrari. Not a bad combo. You could probably pick up a decent example for around $15K. The only tricky part will be finding a manual version. In five minutes I’ve just noted 4 autos for sale, but no manuals.

  4. I’m a bit confused about this comment: “In the Eighties, for instance, your Saab would get from 40 to 70 faster than a Ferrari Testarossa, but so bad was the torque steer when that mountain of torque hit the front wheels, you had no real say where you’d be when 70 was achieved.”

    What SAAB of the 80’s had a problem with severe torque steer? I have an admittedly underpowered ’85 900 Turbo (165 bhp stock) and I’ve NEVER had any sort of problem with torque steer. As far as I knew there weren’t real torque steer problems with SAABs until the NG900 was introduced in the mid-90’s.

  5. The car he’s referring to is the 9000 Aero. I’ve never driven one hard enough to notice any torque steer, but I’m not closed to the fact that there could be some. It’s fair to say Clarkson’s possibly taking some journalistic licence for comedy’s sake.

  6. That is gold. I find clarkson to be mostly an idiotic git but this time he’s right on the pace.

    However, if I go out an sign up for a 93 SC now, sight unseen, am i veering dangerously close to….well, you know?

  7. I didn’t know that the 9000 Aero was available in the 80’s. I know the 9000 debuted in ’85, but I thought the Aero model debuted in the 90’s. Shows what I know.

    Didn’t the 9000 have a limited-slip-differential (whereas the 900/9-3 did not), meaning that some of the torque steer problems should have been toned-down?

  8. Grip, my bad. You’re correct. I overlooked the reference to the 1980’s. The Aero 9000 didn’t rock up until the mid 90’s, as you mentioned.

    It’s the 9000 Aero that I’d heard had the Ferrari beating 40-70 time. Perhaps the 9000 Carlsson or an early 9000 with the HOT was able to mirror these figures?

  9. I beg your pardon,
    of course a very nice written essay on generals apects of what´s cockish or not. But a too long introduction before comming to the point. Only some words regarding the benefits of the 9-3 Combi, some drawbacks and as the best he mentions the price. Well from my point of view this is not much for this car.

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