About.com and the 9-3SC

Another road test has popped onto my radar. Around a week ago a I wrote about an unintentional crash test involving a Saab 9-3 SportCombi. Aaron Gold from About.com had a test fleet vehicle and some loon in a PT Cruiser decided to get some of the IIHS Best Pick loving. Fortunately no-one was hurt and Aaron got a further reminder about one of the things that makes a Saab a Saab.

One of my main main criticisms of many an automotive journalist is that they just don’t “get” Saab. Many of them are content to drive a few miles and write like they’ve lived day-in and day-out with the vehicle. Some of them do little more than copy the information from the press release and infopack they get with the car.

Aaron was one of the participants in the 60th Anniversary event in San Diego in February 2007. Consequently he got to drive a lot of vintage Saabs from GM’s Heritage Collection as well as some brand new anniversary models – and it looks like the history lesson gave him a better idea of where the company’s coming from.

AG9-3combi2.jpg
Photo copyright A.Gold 2007 – used with permission

Here’s a few clips:

Though the 2007 9-3 is a more conventional car than Saabs past, driving one is still a unique experience that starts the moment you turn the key….

And how many times do you hear/read that lazy old “it’s a rebadged Vectra” crapola? Well, it seems someone’s taken notice of the fact that these cars are actually quite different:

The 9-3 rides on GM’s Epsilon platform, meaning it’s a cousin to other front-wheel-drive GM cars like the Saturn Aura, Pontiac G6, and European-market Opel Vectra. But while those cars all bear close similarities, you’d be hard pressed to tell that the 9-3 is related to any of them….

…..The only indication of the 9-3’s American lineage is that the ride is smoother and quieter than the 9-5. But make no mistake: From its turbocharged engine to its center-console-mounted ignition switch, the 9-3 is a Saab through-and-through.

Absolutely. The 9-3 SportCombi is still my favourite Saab among the current lineup, and considering how much I love driving a 9-5 whenever I get the chance, that’s certainly saying something.

AG9-3combi.jpg
Photo copyright A.Gold 2007 – used with permission

Aaron goes on to review the exterior styling…..

Making a wagon look attractive isn’t easy, but Saab has succeeded.

….as well as the interior. But the most interesting part of this review is the opinion shared on the value equation when you weigh up the Aero V6 (as tested) against the standard 2.0T model.

Aaron argues that the 2.0T base model would be his preference. The horsepower figure is only 40hp under that of the V6 and for his driving style, that’s quite adequate. As with the suspension. And most of the best interior goodies are there in the standard package or can be optioned up.

Funnily enough, I heard a similar opinion from a dealer here in Australia a few weeks ago.

I think I’ll always be a more-is-better type of guy so I think I’d always have to opt for the Aero if I could afford one. But I’m sure that for more than just a few out there the 2.0T model represents some outstanding value when you consider the equipment, power, comfort, safety and utility of the SportCombi.

After a quick re-write of the unintentional crash test, Aaron concludes thus:

So would I buy a 9-3 SportCombi? Yes, though not the Aero model I tested. I’d buy the 2.0T. With lots of standard equipment and a base price under $30k, it’s a great deal on a unique car.

Overall, this is a pretty detailed and balanced review. Recommended reading, especially for those that might be shopping a 9-3SC at the moment.

Click here to read the review in full at About.com.

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5 Comments

  1. A great deal this year, and this year only on the 9-3 is the Anniversary Edition. It’s basically an Aero-spec model with the 2.0T engine. It’s got a little spoiler, the aerodynamics kit, the exclusive wheels (which I don’t necessarily care for, but it’s nice to have “exclusive” appointments) and seats, for only a tad more than the price of a base model.

    As Jay Spenchian pointed out, you’re basically getting the Aero “look” in the 2.0T.

    And you can lease it for less money than the base model 2.0T…

  2. Beautiful, I Might also agree with the reviewer and go for the 2.0T if i were in the market. You always want more Swade? Like more cylinders? Mustang GT(giant turd) have up to 8!

  3. Funny how a smal thing can make such a difference – that car is identical to mine except mine has the Euro spec ice-white lens on the rear and I just love them – the colured lens are too ordinary for the Sportswagon – looks like a Renalult Megane (for the US guys, that’s a poor quality compact wagon). I agree the silver strip across the rump causes some people problems – it actually caused me to chose fusion blue over black (my natural first preference) because I thought the strip looked cheap against black.

    Do we expect any changes to the rear of the wagon in the my08 year?

  4. > …..The only indication of the 9-3’s American lineage is that the ride is smoother and quieter

    Not to mention more reliable.

    GM really scored on this one. It’s a piece of art. I’m so torn whether to turn in my ’99 9-3 hatch for this one or wait for the reskin.

  5. mark belfast:

    I did read somewhere changes are in the works for the rear of the MY2008 9-3 MCE.

    As you probably already know, we in the States get the rear lenses that look like that due to DOT (U.S. Department of Transportation) regulations. In North America we almost always get some little compromise that makes our cars slighly less than yours.

    For example, on my wife’s ’01 9-3 the driver’s side (that’s the left side here…) mirror doesn’t have a bevel on it. The other side does.

    Also, on my ’85 900T I don’t have the “E-Code” headlights so I have a silver plastic bezel around each of the headlights. 🙁

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