Saab 9-3 – First reviews are rolling in

UPDATE:

4Car in the UK have also published their writeup, with special mention for the TTiD.

Aftonbladet seem to have something on offer too, but it looks like it’s subscriber only, which is freaking rediculous if you ask me. Collin’s known for his Ovlov preferences but why make your initial impressions of a Saab available to paid subs only?

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The first round of reviews are coming in from the new Saab 9-3 range as it’s being tested in western Sweden this week by the motoring press. My host and travelling companion for the press test, Par Brandt from Auto Motor and Sport, phoned in his initial impressions while we were in the car driving back to Stockholm. That article’s already attracting lots of comments and the Swedes visiting here should check it out if you haven’t done so already.

Padam has left a link in comments to the AutoCar writeup from the same event and I’m pleased to report that they’ve seen the exciting potential in this car as well. The Brits enjoy their Saabs already – the US, Sweden and UK make up 80% of Saab’s total sales – but the XWD version seems to have them genuinely excited rather than mildly admiring.

There’s no need for me to put any extra emphasis on how important this renewed 9-3 is. The 9-3 range makes up a huge majority portion of Saab’s sales, a portion that will only increase with BioPower now available in the range. It’s been the company’s bread and butter for some time now and this 9-3 is the building block for the future that will see the 9-4x, a new 9-5 and eventually the 9-1 added to the range. Doing this car right makes life a heck of a lot easier for those new models and as I’ve already attested to in my brief writeup of the TTiD – I really do reckon they’ve done it right.

Some of AutoCar’s thoughts:

Efforts have been made to improve overall refinement and the gearbox gets a much-needed new linkage between it and the lever. The autobox has also gets a switchable sport mode…..

We didn’t drive an auto while we were there, so I can’t comment myself on how this operated, but it’s addition is an important one and should draw some compliments.

….Whatโ€™s it like? Better. It feels more of a piece, and somewhat better screwed together.

Absolutely. This may be the one and only benefit of the work done on the BLS. The interior noise is negligible – much quieter in terms of road noise and especially in the squeaks and rattles department. Long term tests may tell if this is an ongoing victory.

They save the best text, though, for the XWD system. As one might predict, this is going to be the attention grabber for the time being (until the Black Turbo comes next year) and it certainly seems to be doing its job:

We drove a late XWD prototype on a circuit of gravel, water spray and extreme lane-change manoeuvres and thereโ€™s only one conclusion. The XWD works, and brilliantly.

….. No matter how extreme the steering action in the simulated lane-chances, the XWD remained neutral and extremely stable. Nose-led lurching and weight transfer were virtually absent.

And with the tail drifting on gravel, the eLSD would tweak it back into line with uncanny accuracy.

On a section of conventional tarmac, the XWD behaved remarkably like a car with 50/50 weight distribution. It cornered hard and flat, gripped like a limpet and could easily deploy all its 280bhp and 295lb ft. We look forward to getting XWD on the open road.

No faint praise there. They also give a good overview on how the XWD system works and I’d encourage you to click through and have a read.

With the XWD gathering applause and the 180hp TTiD being simply fantastic you can rightly feel pretty good about Saab’s latest steps towards the future.

As soon as you can, I’d encourage you to get out there and drive one.

Link: Autocar – Saab 9-3 First Test

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18 Comments

  1. ๐Ÿ™‚

    That Autocar review makes me feel all giddy and warm inside ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ :).

    Mesa wants it, mesa needs it ๐Ÿ™‚ XWD BABY!!! Can’t wait!!

    I think my next order will be the ‘vert in Snow Silver with the TTid 180 engine in Aero guise ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ :).

  2. Kaz, the TTiD still sounds like a diesel when you’re outside the cabin, so buyer beware. When you’re inside though, the twin exhausts give it the best noise I’ve ever heard from a diesel. Awesome. I’m still tingling from that drive.

  3. I can’t wait to see if/when Top Gear reviews this car!! Of course, being in the US, I’ll have to watch it on YouTube before the BBC removes it.

    Maybe Clarkson will be able to understand why Saab drivers smile so much.. I know I will in December/January ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Collin in Aftonbladet has a new campaign going. This time it against ethanol which he think is a very bad thing.

    Otherwise, it’s just good reviews for the new 9-3 in Aftonbladet, Expressen, DN, Bilsport, AMS, Teknikens vรคrld, Vi bilรคgare and so on…

  5. Did i miss something (not unlikely) with all the news with the new 9-3 or has 4car made an error? They state…the traditional front-hinged ‘clamshell’ bonnet is back….

    I know the new bonnet has the clamshell look but is it really front hinged?

  6. Front-hinged hoods are the shit. Especially on C4 Corvettes (and many other cars) where the entire front half of the car lifts up instead of having a regular hood.

  7. Kaz NO! Don’t do it. ‘Verts should never be diesel!

    Combi Diesel or V6 ‘vert. I am all for customer choice but that is too much. Besides you can change again in about 6 months anyway…

  8. Jon, I hear what you are saying, but I’m prepared for the clatter.

    I drive about 2,500 a month, so the fuel savings of the diesel outwiegh the ickle clatter it will produce at idle. On the move, the convertible with the extra weight NEEDS all the torque it can get ๐Ÿ™‚ :). But yes, if it is no good, I’ll be changing it in 6 months anyways.

  9. Thanks, rayman.

    Shit, that silver 9-3SS without the old door handles sometime looks like a Lexus or Hyundai from the side… Scary…

  10. ’08 aero will have 280hp/295 ft lb? Not bad :)… I hope we do actually get a BLACK TURBO or something of the sort… Mr. Swade seems pretty confident we will… and I hope it is indeed 320ish/320ish

  11. The Black Turbo appears to be going ahead as in the UK Saab are currently asking their dealers how many of these models they would be likely to sell to get an idea of how many to order.

  12. Comments from the channel 4 review (thanks, Padam) include; ‘The 9-3 may still share its basic underpinnings with the Vauxhall Vectra, but Saab has fine-tuned it into something far superior, and a vehicle which stands apart from most of General Motors’ generic offerings.’

    They also say; ‘further options include DVD sat nav with Bluetooth phone kit, different audio systems with iPod/MP3 input sockets’…and make reference to ‘tyre pressure monitoring’

  13. The 4Car review is a little confusing. One one hand they have a wonderful write up then they refer you to a video (of the previous model) in which they completely lampoon the car. Perhaps someone should write a review of their content and tell them they’re shite too!

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