Saab vs Nissan vs BMW

The series continues…..

I’ve asked visitors to this site to recount their experiences in other cars and relate them back to their Saabs. What is it about your Saab that keeps bringing you back? The motoring journos don’t always ‘get’ what it means to own one day-to-day. So it’s up to us Saab owners.


Today’s instalment is from Sergey C:

I used to be a huge Nissan fan. I had a 1997 Nissan Altima that I put 220k miles on with minimal problems. Then I bought a used 2002 Nissan Maxima SE with the 255hp 3.5L VQ35DE engine. That car was fast, very comfortable and very reliable. I enjoyed it greatly for a year. But it was too big and the handling was not to my liking.

At the same time my girlfriend was looking for a new car and somehow we ended up at a Saab dealership. We were comparing a 2002 9-3 SE hatch with 2003 9-3SS (Linear and Arc). Both were CPOed. There was no comparison. ’02 model was dated and felt old. The 03 model was fresh and handled greatly. We both really liked it.

Now it was time to find the one color combo that would fit her. Red with dark grey leather in manual transmission with all options. We searched for 5 months and could not find one new or used anywhere in the country. We came very close, but the car either did not have heated seats or had beige leather. So…. she ended up getting a 2004 Mini Cooper S.

The story does not end there though :). I found a buyer for my Maxima and guess what I bought? – 2003 Saab 9-3 Aero, 6 speed, with all options and steel grey in color. I really like the car. It handled great, it looked different, I almost never saw another one on the road. It had the most comfortable seats and a cool looking key. The performance was great once you hit the 3rd gear :).

Comparing it to my Maxima was difficult. Both were FWD, but the Saab had much better handling and steering response. Speed wise – the Maxima could blow anybody off the line, including V8 mustangs. The transmission in the Saab was somewhat notchy, but was much better compared to the Maxima. However, Nissan’s VQ/tranny combo was much more forgiving – you could crawl at 5 mph in 3 gear and it would not complain.

Fit and finish – The Nissan was perfect, except for a huge rattle in the rear parcel shelf that was eventually fixed with some foam. Now with the Saab – it took me about 4 months to chase every rattle, squeak and creak. It was VERY annoying. I spent countless hours shoving foam tape in all cavities to make it quiet. The dealer was helpful, but at one point the area rep told me that that’s “normal”, as he drove away in his 98 s500 Benz. Other aggravating items included the whole Onstar deal in US and unavailability of certain options that exist elsewhere. If not for my dealer and their desire to work with me, I would have given up long time ago.

But I loved that car anyway. I put 40k miles on it and one day my co-worker mentioned that he would buy it off me if I am interested, so we struck a deal. The car went to a good person who is enjoying it a lot.

Now I drive a 2002 BMW Z3 Coupe 3.0 – 5 speed. It is different. The response of 3.0 inline 6 is amazing, but lacks that turbo punch. I miss all the buttons and cool features like comfort close and night panel…. but the Z3 coupe is very unique and different.

Would I buy another Saab? – YES? Maybe a new generation 9-5!


I’d like to thank Sergey for sending in his story.

Gotta get him out of that Bimmer though 😉

Driven one of Saab’s competitors recently? Or just picked up a Saab after owning another brand?

If you’ve got a Saab Vs story of your own to tell then shoot me an email and let me know. Pictures are always welcome, too.

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1 Comment

  1. “it took me about 4 months to chase every rattle, squeak and creak”

    I can relate to that, I’ve had a similar experience with my 9-5 SC 2,0t Biopower.

    To bad for such a great car…

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