9-3 SportCombi – A review that “gets it”

It’s a rare thing to find a motoring journo that “gets” the way a Saab is put together, the way it drives and handles. It therefore comes as little surprise that this guy’s British, as they seem to “get” Saabs more than any other western market (except, of course, the Swedes).

Our reviewer is Graham Whyte and the review appears on New Car Net.

Before I share just a little of the review with you, I have to confess a big oversight on my part. You really do learn something new every day. Prior to reading this review, I assumed that all markets were just like Australia and the US, where the 9-3 Aero comes standard with the 2.8l V6.

In the UK (and possibly in other markets as well) the Aero comes in two variants, the 250hp V6 and the 2.0T four cylinder producing 210hp. As I said, you learn something new every day.

Back to the review.

This really is well worth the 10 minutes or so of your time that it’ll take to read. Whyte’s a great writer and I found this to be as entertaining as it was informative. I’ll share the opening and closing paragraphs with you, but please do click through to read the rest. It’s well worth it. SportCombi owners will be doing fist pumps in their seats yelling “Yes! Yes!”

‘Sporte maketh the soule remys, slack and negligente,” proclaimed William Bonde, in one of his 16th Century sermons. The same sentiment was reflected in the Ruff Gyde to Pilgrymmages, which warned (on page 32) “…sporte may leade to lassytewde and devyantte thaughte.” The man was right: having been surrounded by sport for the past week I can scarcely be asked.

Indeed, I am so replete with the commodity that when I sat down at the keyboard this morning I asked myself “Am I bovvered?” But ever the consummate professional, I shall fight off lassytewde and devyantte thaughte and press on, regardless.

The source of all this sport was a Saab. Wherever I turned, there it was: sport. Sport chassis, sport exhaust pipes, sport upholstery, sport steering-wheel, sport interior, sport lights (sorry, that one’s a typo), sport seats, and sport looks. And no, I wasn’t driving a sporte car but an estate car, or in Saab parlance – you’ve guessed it – a SportWagon.

Has that got you hooked?

The review is three pages and discusses a lot of the 9-3’s strong points that get overlooked in some other reviews. In particular the Re-Axs rear steering system and the various driver comforts and conveniences that can be taken for granted by Saab owners – how cool was Night Panel the first time you used it?

Whyte finishes with this:

The 9-3 2.0T is one of those cars that suit most moods. Throttled back, the torque, which peaks at 2500 rpm, can be used to extract maximum economy, helped by a long top gear that enables relaxed high-speed cruising. On the other hand, the turbo thrust can also be used to extract the performance for which Saabs have long been renowned. And then there’s the workhorse element. The long, flat load platform makes quite easy work of shifting heavy or bulky loads, yet the subtle styling of the Saab successfully conceals its alter ego, and anyone watching you draw up in the SportWagon will never assume that you’ve come about the drains. Trade, it’s not.

In addition, there is a certain exclusivity about Saabs. In a recent test, 9 out of 10 people did not mention a 9-3 SportWagon when asked to name a European estate car. I know because I asked them. As a consequence of their comparative scarcity, and apparent ability to remain below most people’s radar, SportWagons perhaps have an intrinsic value that exceeds their book price. You are likely to be the only person in your street to own one, and that confers a kind of status that junior BMWs and Mercs once had but then lost thanks to their becoming commonplace.

And despite, for example, BMW’s reputation for sports saloons, the 9-3 Aero is no less entertaining. And driving one is far from boring: you have no need to fear lassytewd. Not unless you also have Skye Sporte, that is.

Whyte manages to pick up all the exact reason why I personally think the 9-3 SportCombi is the best Saab going ’round at the moment.

A very satisfying and highly recommended read.

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  1. what a fantastic piece. Even though I did not understand ‘lassytewd’ and such, it certainly did provide an entertaining read.

  2. I had a little trouble with it too. Damn wordsmiths! Thank the Lord for http://www.dictionary.com.

    las·si·tude – noun

    1. weariness of body or mind from strain, oppressive climate, etc.; lack of energy; listlessness; languor.

    2. a condition of indolent indifference: the pleasant lassitude of the warm summer afternoon.

  3. Where to start. We drive Saabs because we love them. 50% rational, 50% emotional. So.. who cares what others think. Forget C&D, Consumer reports, etc. It is what it is…. our car and our choice (not to mention our cash) If you don’t get excited everytime you first sit on those seats, slowly turn that awesome key and finally step on that gas pedal only to hear the most amazing turbo spooling, well.. don’t drive a Saab. All cars are machines and all will fail one day. It is how long one is able to endure the status quo vs the individual expression. Who can ever get excited about washing and waxing a Toyota? Yeah.. thought so…

  4. Swade – just a slight correction: the 9-3 Aero sport sedan and comes into variants in this part of the world: the 250hp (184) and a de-tuned 230hp (169kW). The 2.0T engine (4-pot) is reserved for the Vector trim, that is now Southern Africa.

  5. Swade – just a slight correction: the 9-3 Aero sport sedan comes in two variants in this part of the world:
    *the 250hp (184) and
    *a de-tuned 230hp (169kW). The 2.0T engine (151kW; 300Nm) (4-pot) is reserved for the Vector trim, that is now Southern Africa.

  6. Yup, the SportCombi is certainly the best all round Saab 9-3. It is such a classy looker as well.

    I remember the one I had, in black, was lovely!! Wish I had chosen that over the saloon I have right now actually. Don’t think I’ll be getting the saloon again.

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