I’ve asked people to write about their experiences driving some of Saab’s competitors. What did they like or dislike about it and what about it made you think a bit more about your Saab?
Vector220 provided us with some of his experiences a few days ago. He travels quite a bit for work and a lot of this travel time is spent behind the wheel of various rental cars organised by his employer. As you’ll see, some of these rentals are your true ‘rentals’, but there’s also some genuine Saab competitors there. In the previous instalment, Vector covered the Audi A4, Volvo V50 Flexfuel and VW Passat – all direct competitors.
In this instalment, Vector220 covers a few more garden variety cars, as well as a few genuine competitors.
Toyota Avensis (360 km):
Just another Japanese car. Not anything special but it did the work as expected. The seat wasn’t good, it didn’t give me the right support but it didn’t hurt after 2 hours straight so I can’t say it’s too bad.
When driving this car in the dark I was disappointed. The light is orange and the onboard computer is bright and the light is pouring all over the interior. Also, the reflection of this display is in the windshield so you can entertain your self trying to read the display in the reflection! Not a good and safe place, I think.
When listening to the pretty poor radio and at the same time turning the back window wiper on, the radio loses signal so all you hear is: “schrueeeeee” as the wiper is tuning in on the radio…superb! I was only doing 2 x 180 km journeys in this car so the lighting business may have been solved if I had read the instructions.
But my ceiling on this car is a clear 3 (out of 5).
Ford Focus (2100 km):
When travelling all over the northern part of Sweden the availability of air travel isn’t very good, so I drove a distance of 2100 km by car in 6 days.
This is…No, I must tell you in big letters….THIS IS THE WORST EXPERIENCE I’VE EVER HAD IN A CAR!
If the Volvo was noisy, it nowadays feel like a Lexus, if the seats in a Toyota were uncomfortable, they became something I longed for and the quality of materials was so terrible that a plastic detail fell off, and 3 out of 4 caps were gone after only the first gas stop.
The road was icy and a bit shaky. But not the worst I’ve travelled. My first crappy SAAB MY81 900 was a dream compared to this and would never fall apart like this Ford did. This car was a brand new one and had only 5400 km on the meter when I got my hands on it…
The seats gave me pains after 90 minutes, but after 2 hours of pain my legs lost all feeling so it became much better. But have any of you tried to walk with numb legs? The pain comes right back when the blood starts to circulate again.
The interior was the cheapest Ford could find but with all the gadgets a new car should have. AC, computer with a lot of functions, power windows all over, cup holders and stuff.
The instruments were in fact the only thing I came to like. Soft greenish light and the possibility to make the light pretty low. I really don’t want the instruments to be bright; in fact if I could turn the digits of and only see the “pointer” I would be happy. Only when driving in cities you need to see the exact speed.
I’ll give this Ford POS a good “1” – and that’s because I’m being nice! Possibly this rental is just the typical rental, but as I’ve said earlier, we have a great rental deal so this crap is not meant for us. I’ve told the travel manager and he will try to exclude FORD from our rental fleet.
Hyundai Sonata (620 km):
After picking this up I was heading for a 3 hour straight ride. I was surprised with the comfort and the silence in this car. The seats were ok, just a bit stiff in my back but in a rather good shape. The instruments were ok and the over all experience is: “A nice Japanese ride”
So now this Korean drive is becoming a threat for the real Japanese car makers I guess.
I picked up a colleague and was supposed to drive to the airport where we were to fly home. There were some delays, however, and we decided to take the car to another airport. In doing this, though we had a tight time schedule – we had to do a 200 km run in less than 1 h and 40 minutes in order to have enough time to check in.
But even after this run both he and I were surprised with the comfort. And the car used under 10 litres of gas for every 100 km. There was no problem getting the car up to speed, the handling was a bit nerve-wracking when running in high speeds though.
The interior looks a bit cheap, but hey, that’s expected. The space in the car was good for four and it had a rather big trunk. I think this car is a good car for the money. Not my cup of tea but not a bad car at all.
I’ll give this little sucker a fine 3.5
Skoda Oktavia (160 km):
This was fun – the rear window exploded completely when driving at 90 km/h!
I tried to throw myself on the floor but the seatbelt kept me in place. Ahhh, I’m being shot at! &#%! But the glass just imploded by itself. When I called the rental office they said: “Don’t worry, it’s not the first time. If you can take the car to the nearest town, just a couple of km ahead, we will get you a new one.”
So I did move on and that’s when the Hyundai Sonata came into my hands.
The Skoda was an ok car. A bit sterile but not irritating in any way. Better seats than the Passat and the Audi, which was strange since Skoda is their budget car. The engine worked well and provided a good response. Not a race car but enough to give you safety margins when doing highway driving.
But since I haven’t really tried this car I can just throw this car a 3-3.5
Volvo V70 (700 km):
Smooth and comfortable. But not a drivers car. You ride in this one rather than drive it.
The seats are even a bit better than in my SAAB (don’t tell anyone!) and the reason for this is that the seat is a bit longer than a 9-5 sport seat. No problem after a long day of driving.
The engine is quiet but weak. You need to plan for ages if you want to overtake someone.
The instrumentation is soft, a little tiny bit green, mostly soft white light. It’s possible to turn the computer display off and that is a good thing. The text in the display is green and very clear.
The controls to the AC and fans are an odyssey in how easy it can be to make everyone understand what to do. Three buttons and one knob. That’s it! All you need to control the climate in this car. No explaining, no reading, no trying to find out where to push and turn. The buttons is self explainatory, using icons.
The quality of the materials in this car is very good. 10 years ago SAAB and Ovlov were about the same in this matter. But now SAAB has to do better.
I do understand why this car is the best selling in Sweden, but I don’t like it anyway. I’ve grown up with Vovlo doing cars looking like boxes, feeling like boxes and as advanced as a hammer. This is not easy to overcome. And if I’m frank here, I’m just not interested in just riding a car, I want to be in control and feel the car doing what I tell it to do. But not sell out on the comfort, safety.
VW Golf (720 km):
This is my own fault. This car is smaller than we are supposed to drive. But when I ordered this it was 20:00 and I needed the car 07:40 at an airfield the next day.
Everything was closed so I took what I could get. And the car was exactly like that. It was lake a typical budget car. No extras, no cruise control, no power windows in the rear and so on. The engine screamed for help when driving at 120 km/h (4000 rpm).
But the interior was solid and “Germany black” in colour. This was like a small Passat with an engine suitable for short trips in towns.
This car will get a 2.5. But I won’t say it’s a crap, it’s just a totally different car and it’s not made for this kind of trip. A more expensive GOLF might even be good if they tweak the engine and put some more funny stuff in it. But the same “cool blue” lighting as the Passat is always a bad thing in my mind.
Every time I do trips like these I like go back to my own car. Just to compare them.
The 9-5 feels a bit outdated on the interior, the response time is a bit long when dropping the right foot, but after this short waiting, I’ll be going by all the others in no time if needed.
The Audi feels like they are going to take Saabs place in turbo charging if Saab doesn’t do anything soon.
The Volvo is not a threat. A completely different customer type.
The Korean and Japanese might do good cars, but the have a long way to go if to beating Saab
Over all, I still can’t find a better ride that what I’ve got ( a newer Saab is a better car)