9-3SC at EuropeanCar

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European Car Web and Saab USA have struck up a mutually beneficial deal. ECW get a long term test vehicle to drive around and have some fun in, and Saab USA get to farm out a now-outdated 2006 press vehicle for a bit more work and some positive impressions. When your 2006 press fleet has been superceded it’s a great way to squeeze some more value out of what’s still a great car.

If you’re like me then every time you’ve run out of milk is a good time as it means a quick (or not so quick) trip to the shops. ECW seem to feel a similar way about the Combi:

From the moment we took the keys from J.W. Vester, Saab’s answer man, the 9-3 SportCombi has left a unified impression of solidity on its drivers. You just know you’re going to get there quickly and safely. Occasionally, we find ourselves wishing our destinations were further away, just to spend more time in it.

The 9-3 SportCombi is proving to be the hit many of us thought it would be. The return to Saab’s practical, wagon/hatch background is a welcome one. I’d love to see the sales numbers of Wagon vs Sedan 9-3s this year. I heard some rumblings back around the start of this month that mentioned some very high numbers for the wagons. Perhaps those that were rumbling might like to rumble again in comments (some links to sources would be fantastic too).

The staff at ECW have all booked their Combi-time – and the office has ordered a bunch of accessories to suit. It seems like they’re loving the hatch versatility. Initially though, they’ve confined it to cruise patrol and have given it a fair test too.

Its pronounced aerodynamics make the Saab behave like a cruise missile, and it seems to relish autobahn duty. At 85 mph, the tach barely tickles 2000 rpm, and wind noise is negligible. The 250-bhp turbocharged V6 produces gobs of low-end torque, and it’s a good idea to have a solid grip on the steering wheel before launch (yeah, there’s some torque-steer). So far, we’ve left a good 50 feet of rubber on the local freeway onramp.

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Versatility, performance.

The one Saab ingredient left is value. And it doesn’t get left for long.

I’ve had quite a few people emailing me in the last few weeks about their 9-5s and the tremendous value they represent in the US market. It seems that ECW are regarding the 9-3 SportCombi in the same way:

Show me another Euro under $40K with this many options and I’ll eat an entire jar of lutefisk.

ECW have a year with the 9-3 SportCombi. It’ll certainly be an interesting long-termer to keep an eye out for. If the staffers’ initial impressions on page two of the review are anything to go by, J.W.Vester and Co are going to get some great value out of this exercise.

Check out their initial review and photos here.

And to Saab Australia: If you have an ’06 press car you’d like tested for an entire year (especially an Aero SportCombi), you know where to get in touch with me!

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