Let’s help Scott choose a Saab

Here a call for help and shared experience in the comments section to the “Saab and the USA” post I did the other day. I believe the comment will explain itself.

Since this column is about “Saab and the USA” and that’s where I live, I thought my thinking about buying a Saab might be appropriate. I’m going to buy a new car this year and have the choice narrowed down to either a 2008 Saab 9-3 Aero or a 2008 CTS.

I’ve owned Cadillacs but never a Saab (I try to buy GM vehicles – my last non-GM was a 1997 BMW 3-series). I want a four-door sport sedan with good handling, automatic transmission, 0-60 of 7 seconds or better, with a decent sized back seat and trunk, and luxury features. Specifically, heated leather seats with memory, good stereo with an auxiliary audio input, rainsense wipers, Onstar, fold-down rear seat, universal home remote and rear parking assist.

In an earlier post someone mentioned a Malibu instead of a Saab. The problem is, the Malibu, Saturn Aura, Pontiac G6 and Buick LaCrosse can’t be ordered with all these items. That narrows it down to the 9-3, 9-5 or the CTS. Although I like the size of the 9-5, buying a $40,000 car with a four cylinder engine isn’t what most Americans want, even though 260HP and 258 lb-ft of torque is nice.

Also, I think the interior of the 9-3 is nicer, but not as nice as the new CTS. I lean more toward having rear-wheel drive instead of front-wheel drive because having better weight distribution and having the front wheels only doing the steering make the car handle better. From what I’ve read, the 9-3 ReAxs helps a lot. I haven’t driven one yet, because I want to drive the new CTS and 9-3 back-to-back for comparison.

I’m hoping Saab won’t wait to long to offer the AWD and the “Black Turbo” 280hp motor (same as Opel Vectra OPC motor?). Having AWD would eliminate the FWD, RWD issue. I also wonder about the resale or trade-in value of the Saab given it’s less popular in the U.S. versus the CTS.

Although the 9-3 has slightly less interior room than the CTS (rear leg room and shoulder room), I’m surprised the 9-3 has the larger trunk (15 cu.ft. versus 12.5).

Two other reasons I’m thinking about the 9-3: One, equipped the same, it should be about $5000 less than the CTS, and two, I might take a vacation in Sweden to pick it up and let Saab pay my airfare.

I’d love to hear from 9-3 owners who may have looked at the same comparison, and why they bought the Saab.

I’m sure there’s bound to be someone reading this that’s contemplated and purchased a 9-3 for similar reasons that Scott is mulling over right now.

Any constructive advice would be welcome. Of course, as none of us have driven the XWD 9-3 yet it’s going to be hard to say anything about the XWD system with any authority, but nevertheless…..

And Scott, you should be able to at lease see some official images of the new 9-3 early next week – at the latest.

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  1. According AWD – german AutoZeitung has an article about the Opel GTC Concept in its latest issue. This car has the specs our next Viggen [aka Black Turbo] should get as well. V6 300HP at 5300 r/pm [400nm torque ranging from 1850-4500/min]… they said, the car handles superbly and it takes appr. 6 sec up to 100km. Now count in, that Saab will make some decent mods on this new system and you simply can not get around it… you’ll will need some time though, as it might take until feb’08 that the european delivery program has your car ready for the trip!

  2. Just a couple of thoughts:
    You mention that the ReAxs helps. I think the 9-3’s 53/47 weight distribution may help some too (http://media.gm.com/us/saab/en/product_services/ps_cars/ps_c_9-3/index.html). Previous Saabs were at least 60/40, and as high as 62/38. The site doesn’t differentiate, but I’ve got to think the V6 and auto change that a little.
    On the other hand, the 56/46 for the CTS isn’t that great for a rwd car (BMW is near 50/50) and might be an issue if you drive a lot on ice and snow (www.gmbuypower.com/pages/submodelOverview/2007_Cadillac_CTS-V.jsp;jsessionid=2458C023C32847D5FAB37D8C2ABC43AB;jsessionid=2458C023C32847D5FAB37D8C2ABC43AB).
    Personally, I’d wait to see the Black Turbo. I’m betting it’s going to stand apart from the crowd:-)

  3. I think, with the current discounts, the 9-5 is more competitively priced than you think. Is someone else more in touch with that right now?

  4. I have to agree with Adam. I saw a deal on a nicely equipped new ’07 9-5 about two weeks ago for $27,300 if you’re a current Saab owner, $29,300 if not. There are some fantastic deals on the 9-5 if you are looking.

    At the end of the day, does it really matter if it’s a V6, inline six, or a 4 cylinder? I’d rather have a 260hp 4 cylinder Aero than a 200hp V6 like my ’02 9-5 Arc (though I still love my baby!)…you know which will feel better and drive faster. Bottom line is the hp, torque, and gas mileage- different engine configurations are ways to optimize those three figures.

    One last thing: Saabs are fantastic for those long drives. You can’t really know until you take a good long drive in a Saab-they’re hard to beat in that category. I can’t tell you how wonderful my 9-5 feels on the open road (including the fantastic ventilated seats!!).

  5. Well, I can not comment on the 08’s, but I can compare the current CTS to a 9-3. I have an 03 9-3. I love my Cadillac/SAAB dealer, who very kindly provide loaner cars for service. I have had 2 9-3’s (one being a Aero convt.), a Caddy SRX and a few CTS’s. I have to say, the CTS is a below average drive. It looks great inside and out, but the driving experience is so sub par. Uncomfortable seats, bouncy yet harsh suspension that pretends to be sporty, and disconnected steering feel that needs a hefty counter turn to straighten just to name a few. The fact that it cost more than a 9-3 or 9-5 is just icing on the cake.
    I whole-heartedly appreciate the fact that I receive nice loaner cars, but it only makes me appreciate my 9-3 even more.
    For the ride, performance, handling, comfort, MPG, there is just no reason to get the CTS over a 9-3.
    Take my advice, get a 9-3 with European delivery, enjoy the trip and pocket the change!

  6. Remeber that the 08 CTS’s are going to be a redesign, so you should definitely wait until those are out. Also, you really need to look at the CTS-V and not the CTS. Maybe the new design will clear up some of the problems with David’s car, and maybe the fact that it’s apparently not a V will clear up more.

    That said, buy the Saab. They’re styled better and they’re cheaper.

  7. Scott,
    You sound like you are repeating a lot of hearsay. RWD cars do not necessarily handle better than FWD, and AWD isn’t necessarily any better than the other options.
    Getting 260 HP from 4 cylinders isn’t any less noble than getting it from an engine with twice the weigth and half the technology.

    You sound like you need to go out and drive a few cars instead of taking everyone else’s word for it. Don’t wait, do it now.

    There’s a lot more to cars than reading the brochure.

  8. Wow! This is great that people are giving me feedback on the 9-3 and 9-5. I really appreciate it. I’m an automotive engineer and have studied supercharging, turbocharging and FWD, AWD and RWD layouts. Turbocharging a smaller displacement engine to get the same HP as a larger engine (2.3L versus 2.8L) puts a little more stress on the engine. Regarding FWD versus RWD, tires only have so much grip available. If you have to use some of that grip for traction (FWD), it leaves less grip for steering. That’s not to say you can’t make a FWD car handle better than some RWD cars, but the RWD should be more capable. I’m leaning toward the Saab, but my wife likes the perceived prestige of a Cadillac. She does love the Saab Fusion Blue Metallic color though. Again, thanks for the inputs.

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