This might turn into a new way of “right-sizing” car reviews!!
It’s all quite simple. Carpages, from the UK, have recently published something we won’t see too much more of from now on – a review of the 2007 Saab 9-3 Sportcombi. I’ll get to some of the specifics of the review in a minute, but first, let’s take a look at their ratings and how they might be moderated:
As you can see there, they’ve given the 9-3 SportCombi 4.5 stars (out of five) for safety and security. In their write-up of this section in the review, they mention the SportCombi’s 5-star NCAP rating and produce a long, long list of safety and security features, with not a criticism in sight.
So why the 4.5 stars?
Clearly, Carpages are like the driving test examiner that doesn’t want you to get 100% on your test, lest you get a bit too puffed up and kill yourself thinking you’re Fangio right after the test. So they knock a few marks off because apparently you didn’t spend long enough adjusting your mirrors or something similar. Despite its clear top-o-the-tree safety credentials, they’re only giving it 4.5 out of five for a criterion where they’re as close to 5-star as anyone’s ever been.
So, I’ve decided that this probably applies to all their other categories as well and that the whole class of crietria should be lifted by half a star, or 10%. This gives the 9-3 SportCombi an overall rating of 88%, with marks mostly being subtracted for the 150hp diesel engine.
I can live with that.
Jan-Ake Jonsson said at the release of the 2008 Saab 9-3 that 2007 models were sold out. This might mean that you’ll have trouble going to your dealer to order a MY2007 made as you’d like it, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t pick up a MY2007 new from a dealer.
Of course, many of those that are already out the door are sitting on dealer’s lots waiting to be sold and will likely be the subject of some enticing incentives in months to come. Despite my recent gushiness over the 2008 car, the 2007 iteration is still a very spendworthy unit, especially in my favoured SportCombi mode.
Carpages were obviously enamoured with it as well:
They had the TiD engine, which is OK for it’s intended purpose as a miserly cruiser. Souping it up with a Hirsch kit it can pull some very decent life out of the engine, but in standard spec it’s, well, reasonably standard.
Our test car was fitted with a 6-speed manual gearbox, which has to be used to make the most of the 1.9 TiD diesel engine. Don’t make the mistake of trying to pull off in second gear, because you won’t be going anywhere fast. If you are lazy with your gear changes, you will find yourself running out of puff up hill.
Ride and Handling:
The 9-3 SportWagon does not really feel any different on the road to the Saloon, which is testament to Saab’s engineering. Overall the ride is quite compliant and the suspension makes a good job of absorbing all but the worst of pot holes.
This is absolutely true. Go for a spin in a SportCombi and the only time you realise you’re driving a wagon is when you step out again and look at the sexy iceblock rear lights.
Ease of Use:
The Saab 9-3 SportWagon easy to get in and out of, even with a bad back. Front head and leg room is very good although rear seat passengers might complain, if the front occupants have long legs as there isn’t a great deal of rear leg room.
Also true. A five hour drive in the back of one from western Sweden to Stockholm did highlight a rear leg-room issue, but that’s of minor concern to me as it’s probably the only time I’ll be in the back seat of one of these for such a stretch. Up front the comfort is brilliant (as it is in back if you’ve got a driver that doesn’t require the seats to be right back, or if you’ve got shorter legs yourself).
Comfort and refinement:
We drove the SportWagon non-stop for over ten hours without complaint from driver or co-driver. The electric seats were easy to adjust enabling you to obtain the ideal driving position.
In-Car Entertainment and Navigation
Saab have received some criticism for their nav units in the past. The one I used in Sweden was pretty accessible (once a Swede taught me how to use it – it was in Swedish!) and Carpages were clearly impressed by the MY07 unit:
Being touch screen the navigation system is simple to use and it is quick to enter addresses and saves fumbling around with knobs and buttons. When purposely making wrong turns the system is quick to up date the route…..The only downside to the navigation system is that you cannot enter post codes; otherwise this is amongst the best systems we have tested.
You can check out the rest for yourselves. The full review is available at the link above.
The 2007 Saab 9-3 is realistically about to make for fearsomely good buying as they clear out and make way for the 2008 models. This review gives you a pretty good idea of what you can expect, which is (as proven above) even more than what CarPages are telling you.