9-3 SportCombi TiD review

CarKeys have been out there driving my favourite current Saab, the 9-3 SportCombi. It’s always interesting to read a British review of a Saab as they seem to appreciate them a lot more, and a lot more consistently than US reviewers.


Our host is David Morgan, and he’s been driving around in a 1.9 TiD Vector Sport model. And loving it….

Not for a long time has the Trollhattan factory produced such a brilliantly sensible package with style, space, comfort and character on one sporting platform.

From the outset there’s something tactile and immediate about the driver feedback from this Swedish reworking of Vauxhall’s Vectra floorpan that makes it come alive on a demanding road.

Like its Sport Saloon sister the car is good, but tacking on a handsome cargo space awakened wonderful memories of Saab 900 Combis estate models. The 9-3 Sport Wagon is a worthy successor.

There’s a long list of likes, but what it all boils down to is a very comfortable, utilitarian and sporting drive.

Mr Morgan was driving the 150hp version. There’s a 120hp version as well, but I think he got the best diesel package Saab offer in the 9-3. The Vector has the sports trimmings and is one neat package.

Morgan’s problems:

– a lack of ‘feel’
– too firm a ride on poor surfaces
– he didn’t like the paddles on the shift

Morgan’s likes:

– Everything else, especially that lively 1.9 turbodiesel.

Having driven a few of these myself back in January I can totally concur. These diesels are a real surprise and thoroughly worth a look for those that have access to them.

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  1. Hi!
    Notorious complains about the harmful Diesels:

    Again, Diesel cars nowadays are no solution until they are in line with the strict emission standards of petrol cars. Please ask your MP about a stricter regulation.

    I am just back from a trip to Australia. It was nice to breath the air that is only polluted by few Diesels (except trucks and lorries).

    I can tell you one little storie:
    An Aussi and I we were drive down the high way from Canberra to Sydney. In front of us was a European car driving. An Alfa Romeo (same Diesel engine as Saab uses). My friend closed the air vent because of a strange smell he could not explain and he did not like. But I could. I said to him that there is a Diesel car in front of us. That causes the nasty smell.

    God look; just one Diesel we could over pass. Lucky Aussi, he is still there, but I am back in Diesel-Europe that I could recognize instantly back in London.

    Instead of the Diesel, Saab should sell the 9-3 range with the 1.6 Turbo patrol Vauxhall and Opel just introduced. That means clenaer fuel saving as possible with the contemporary Diesels.

    Is it a nice feeling to drive a Diesel that emittes round about 10 times more harmful exaust gases?

    Btw, there is a way to make Diesel clean. “Ask Schwarzenegger.” But don´t ask the European car industry. Please ask your MP about a stricter regulation.

    Here is one interesting interview (in Swedish) about the future of Saab engine development. It´s about down sizing, Ethanol and Diesel (without mentioning the very harmful Diesel exhaust gases):

  2. Same reason why you don’t see too many diesels in the US. The emissions standards over here are much stricter than in Europe. VW is the only brand that comes to mind that meets them.

  3. Why the animosity on small <2L diesels that are passing Euro 4,5 and yes even US emissions handily, while huge diesels are allowed much less strict specs. Why the worry over the small leak in the basement when the levee broke?
    Bring on smaller displacements, more turbos, clean diesel, hybrids, butanol, catalytic particle filters ultimately for most everything.

  4. There’s something else he didn’t like…

    “But if it was mine I’d black out the silver trim piping that runs round the instrument binnacle. Why? Because it reflects irritatingly in the windscreen and is very distracting.”

    You shoulda picked that one up after your “Interior” sessions.

  5. Yes, the 150bhp diesel engine is lovely, a little noisier than the competition at idle, but apart from that, it is a fabulous configuration.

    The 120bhp one mind, is not, 120bhp is really not enough for a car of that weight, it really struggled when I had one for a day (my car was in for a checkup at the time).

    It was breathless and you don’t really save that much in fuel costs over the 150bhp version. To be honest, I think the 120bhp version should never have been put in the 9-3.

    The loaner I had also hammered home how much difference there is between the basic models and the top of the range versions. The model given to me was an Arc, and was so basic inside it was embarressing. It didn’t feel as quality a product as the more upmarket trims, I knew there would be a gap, but didn’t think that gap would be a canyon. The Vector is the best model in terms of equipment per pound/dollar in my opinion.

    Couldn’t live without the extra presence the Aero gives personally, such a great buy 🙂 🙂

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