9-3 SS Aero – Comprehensive coverage

Cross posted to Saab Road Tests. My thanks to Turbin for the heads-up.

This is one of the most comprehensive reviews of a car that I’ve ever read. It’s by an Australian service called Web Wombat. Nothing particularly automotive about the name, but they sure do put together a decent review….

….and some nice photos too. I’ll be honest with you – Laser Red isn’t my favourite color for a 9-3, but they’ve set it off nicely.

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As mentioned, this is one very thorough review. Australian publications were positive about the 2006 9-3 Aero right from the outset. That’s largely because of the Autralian-made V6 engine sitting under the bonnet. Web Wombat are no exceptions, but it’s not just patriotism. They drive it and they LIKE it:

While I can appreciate the subtleties of European luxury, there’s something even more stirring about telling passers by and curious drivers that no, it’s not a 4-cylinder car, and yes, the turbocharged hardware hiding under the bonnet is built in Australia. And yes, it will leave your 3.8-litre VP Commodore for dead. This 9-3 Aero Sport Sedan will sprint from 0-100km/h in 6.7 seconds, which the GM-owned company tells us makes it the fastest accelerating vehicle ever produced by Saab.

But there are more reasons than just it’s Australian connection and boosted powerplant to take a closer look at this Swedish sport car. The range-topping 9-3 Aero V6 has quite a lot going for it, such as the luxury appointments, the good boy/bad-boy image it exudes and the way it does everything just a little bit differently from most cars.

I was chatting with another Saab owner this evening. He’s got a 2005 9-5 Sport Wagon in Aero form. He reminded me of that reason we drive Saabs and then buy them. It’s the effortless manner in which they take to the task at hand. I think this reviewer also got a taste of that. As well as a good dose of that superb 9-3 chassis:

I have to say it – the Saab 9-3 Aero is one of the most balanced front wheel drive performance cars I’ve had the chance to pilot. Understeer is almost non-existent, and for something that builds up 350Nm of twist, torque steer is also remarkably subdued. I drove the wheels off this thing and was consistently impressed with its ability to tuck in its front end. This may sound crazy – warped even – but the 9-3 Aero handles more like a rear-wheel drive car than a front.

JD Power and Consumer Reports can say whatever they like. The 9-3 Sport Sedan is one hell of a car. That’s what I thought the first time I drove one (2002 at Ross, our first Saab Car Club of Australia function) and the last time I drove one (9-3 V6 Aero, earlier this year). It’s good to see someone else thinking the same. If I had the money I’d quite happily part with it for a 2006 V6 Aero with the jet fighter dash, before they go analog in the 2007 model. Like the ’05 model 9-5, I think this one’s destined to be collected.

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You want detail in your car review? How about this:

Further to my thoughts about the car feeling quite sporty through corners, it doesn’t feel exactly like a rear wheel drive car – that it’s being pushed instead of pulled – when you’ve got the pedal to the metal and coming out of the last 20% of the corner towards the exit, but it doesn’t feel like a front wheel driver in that respect either. When it’s being brutalised, the Saab will tend to lean on its outside front wheel around corners but the chassis is communicative enough that you can feel exactly when you’re reaching the edge of tyre adhesion and respond appropriately (usually by sweating a bit more).

And I haven’t even got one third of the way through the review yet!!

If you’ve got a spare 5 minutes I’d highly recommend this review. Despite my accent on the positive, it’s quite balanced and one heck of a reminder that in spite of it’s teething problems, the 9-3 Sport Sedan is one hell of a great car.

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3 Comments

  1. Wonderful review. It’s quite heartening to encounter an auto journalist willing to make up his OWN mind about Saab, rather than just cutting-and-pasting the usual anti-GM, but-can-it-hang-with-a-BMW rubbish into a column and calling it a “review.” This write-up has me quite excited to try out the V-6 Aero at my local dealer…my ’97 900SE is fantastic, but every time I see a recent Aero-trim 9-3 go by with those low skirts and the huge tires, I get all silly inside…

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