Man tests 9-3, forgets guide dog….

Out of the Bay Area comes the Mercury News, and Matt Nauman of said news service has just spend two weeks driving two different Swedes, the Saab 9-3 Aero and the Volvo S80.

He covers both cars in the one article, which is strange enough in itself as it naturally draws comparisons to what are cars from two different classes. The Saab acquits itself reasonably well, though Nauman finds it too understated for his tastes, which is just fine with me.

The Saab’s exterior is pleasant, if unassuming. It adopts a wedge-like profile that’s a big improvement from the days of the odd-shaped Saab models. Still, this car’s look exudes neither performance nor luxury. Instead, it’s subtle from its unremarkable face to its roundly squared rear end. A strip of black trim encircles the car; other automakers would use shiny chrome instead.

I can cope quite well with anyone claiming to underappreciate the 9-3’s styling, but they’re going to have a crack at earlier Saab, well….them’s fightin words!!

But then, after this little quote, one could say that Mr Nauman doesn’t necessarily see everything that’s there, anyway.

The 9-3’s cabin was redesigned for 2007, but, frankly, I couldn’t tell.

Here’s the old and new interiors pitched together. Which part of buttons vs dials does he not see? Click on either to enlarge.

ButtonDashSaab9-3.jpg 2007DashSaab9-3.jpg

He loved the ride, the handling, the acceleration. The looks got compliments from the ladies and he found the can’t-see-the-difference interior to look pretty clean.

It seems the main problem was a lack of pizazz.

Which is just fine by me.

You may also like


  1. Swade,
    I made it back with my new 9-3 Arc okay. I saw your mention in the 9-7X article below this, but I’m answering here because I wanted to compare the new dash to the earlier dash. I would complain about the Night Panel button being directly obscured by the steering wheel, but it looks like they shifted it to the right in the new dash, so it would be a moot point now.
    Anyway, due to lack of sleep, and a late journey home, I had to stop for a lot of coffee breaks. I searched for Heather at every stop, but no such luck for me.
    What a car though, it’s the first car I’ve driven that reminds me of the super quick steering response of the old 2-cycle 96. I felt at home again;-) However, the power of the 9-3 was different and refreshing; that’s something I only ever experienced in my late night dreams when I had the old stroker. Now, I can complain about the squeaky rear seat like everyone else, but do it smiling the whole time;-)
    If I can give a plug to the seller, I’d like to do that now because I am so sure the car will work out. His nae is Keith Anderson (cell phone 815-566-7039), and he works at Champion Motor Cars in Rockford, Illinois. Keith had the car checked over and given its 30,000 mile service at the local Rockford, Illinois Saab, Cadillac, Subaru dealer. It was at the dealer when I picked it up, and they even ran it through the car wash for me before leaving. They also did a Vin# scan to see what prior issues, if any, it had. Sounds strange that they would do this for a seeming competitor (my local Saab dealer wouldn’t do that for me), but Keith has a good working relationship with the dealer (5 minutes away), and he’s not really a competitor since most of his sales are out-of-state anyway. Keith gets off-lease Saabs from Saab Financial, and only bids on the desirable ones. He may even be able to tailor his bidding to match what you’re looking for. After long discussions with Keith, both in person and over the phone and e-mail, I trust him completely. He’ll need to make a profit of course, but he can give you a better deal than you’re likely to find elsewhere, with a good assurance of getting a good car. So, if you’re looking, give Keith a call (815-566-7039), he’s very open and friendly.

  2. I’ll be completely honest here. The 9-3ss interior looked much better and more saab prior the change.

    The AC panel does not mesh with Saab design. GM shoudla done a better job of matching what a saab acc panel looks like at least.

    Also, where the hell did the SID panel ontop of the dash goto.

    With the changes made the interior took a major step backwarsds.

    I could be content if this was the base 9-3 model because you wouldn’t be paying for those nice things but I doubt thats the case of this pic.

  3. Minor correction to my comment above: Champion Motor Cars is in Machesney Park, about 10 minutes north of Rockford.

    Nahum, I tend to agree with you. Now that I finally have a 9-3 (2004 Arc), I love the buttons (except for one complaint I made above). The knobs just look cheap, kind of like the Linear looked cheaper than the Arc and Aero. But, some people seem to like it, time will tell. I’ve just got to figure out what the phone button can do for me. My Arc isn’t equipped with Onstar, so I don’t know what it could do. The only thing I can find searching blogs is suggestions of class action lawsuits;-(

  4. I live in Northern California, although about 3 hours from San Jose. We call the Mercury News the “Murky News”

    It is, however, a source for used Saabs. That’s changed over the years, what with this inter-net thingy and all!


  5. There is no doubt you have to be blind not to see the difference between the new and the old dash layout. Doing away with all those minuscule buttons was a very good idea. But the silver lining around the dash has to go! It creates a striking reflection directly in the line of vision of the driver. It’s particularly annoying when you drive under city lamp posts as it creates an on and off effect. This would be an inexcusable mistake even in an econobox, which surely not the case here. As I wrote the head honcho for interior design at GM on their fast lane blog, I sure hope somebody was relocated after this absolute blunder.

  6. The new dash looks terrible. If Saab was the equivalent of the cobalt then the dash would be fine. It is not saab style at all. The SID should have been left in place but for whatever reason it is gone. Another reason I hate the change of the dash is that ACC panel is practically the same that is in the new subaru wrx’s even though GM sold of its share in Fuji Heavy Industries.

    Besides, by going to the new dash layout the proportions don’t look right. The original dash flowed and now this new one with a smaller panel all the sudden the whole lower of the center stack shrunk and it doesn’t match up. If I was forced between an 04 convertible aero I4t and a brand spaking new 07/08 covertible aero v6t i’d take the 04 in a heartbeat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *