2008 Saab 9-3 feedback coming…

You’ve heard me rave about it. Now go and check out some other people raving about the 2008 Saab 9-3.


Paul Eisenstein from The Car Connection:

….the real question is whether the latest 9-3 is infused with that special “Saab-ness,” if you will, a distinctive ride and feel that justifies its existence in a market full of solid, sporty import alternatives ….. To a large degree, the answer is, “yes.” ….. The car is decidedly more distinctive looking. But more significant is the ride. Gone is the turbo lag and torque steer of prior-generation Saabs; the 9-3 now does a credible job of arguing in favor of front-drive, even in the performance luxury segment…..

….We headed out, on a late summer morning, from downtown Washington, D.C., heading for the Virginia countryside. Our route took us through ancient farmland where the roads hadn’t evolved much in 300 years. Our 9-3, however, was more than up to the task, slicing through the tightest of corners, and holding solidly to the road as we charged into a series of slingshot corners and daredevil hills that would have been right at home at the Cedar Point amusement park. Steering proved precise, with no need to correct, and a well-balanced level of boost, plenty in parking situations, but unobtrusive on the highway.

We were especially impressed by the new Sport Mode feature – activated by a button on the dashboard. When activated, it will hold the current gear longer, even if you briefly lift off the throttle. That provides an additional measure of cornering stability, along with more effective engine braking, and good acceleration when you step down again. The system also downshifts more quickly when you’re braking, again adding more engine braking to your maneuvers….

….The 2008 Saab 9-3 is nimble, attractive and just plain fun to drive.

Kelsey Mays from Cars.com:

The 9-3’s svelte exterior and Euro-cockpit dashboard are all business, with plenty of straightforward controls and, improbably, an SUV-sized glove compartment. GM had a couple versions to test out; even with the base turbo four-cylinder and an automatic, the car moves about as quickly as an Acura TSX….

David Thomas from Cars.com:

….On windy country roads, the 9-3 was sporty and fun to drive to an extreme. I had forgotten just how good even the base model’s turbo engine performs.

Jow Wiesenfelder from Cars.com:

Underrated is exactly what this model is and has long been. If nothing else, Saab should be lauded for a turbo/small-engine/automatic-transmission combo that doesn’t make you want to drive – after a moment or so of delay — into a tree. It responds with minimal lag, as it did years before VW cracked the code with its 2.0-liter turbo.


I know there’s a fair bit of concern over the Bluetooth issue with this car. But whatever you do – go drive it.

It looks brilliant, is as comfortable as a Saab has ever been and the addition of uprated NVH insulation (the only thing we can thank Cadillac for) really adds to the driving experience.

Go drive it. It’s got horns.

2008 Saab 9-3

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  1. This is great. Maybe the winds are finally changing for SAAB ( atleast in the eyes of the reviewers which hold weight to a lot of people). Great looking car!

  2. Great to see some objective journalistic writing for once – scarcely a mention of Vectra roots!!!

    NVH, Swade? What is that again?

  3. Duh, yup, makes sense now. In that case, that’s very welcome as there are a number of annoying vibes coming through now in my 8 month-old 9-3SC. Particularly around the roof panel, door speakers and boot cover.

    These are tiny issues, but combine to give an unfairly poor impression of what is otherwise a well screwed together motor.

  4. even with the base turbo four-cylinder and an automatic, the car moves about as quickly as an Acura TSX

    Actually, that’s not such a good thing. When I needed to get rid of my ’01 9-3, I looked at the TSX, but couldn’t see myself driving that thing any longer than the test drive. Compared to the 9-3, I thought it was horrendously slow. No torque whatsoever. I did like the technology though, which is why I ended up in the TL. I guess I really need to hold out for the Aero version of the 9-3 to not feel like I’m going backwards.

    The last time I had my TL serviced at the dealer I had a ’07 TSX as a loaner. Boring! Saab needs to do better than that!

  5. It’s great news that the new MY 2009 9-3s are getting good reviews. I’m not surprised though!

    I can’t recall an answer to this – can anyone help me out? Will the MY 2008 9-3 ‘vert get the upgraded ‘quiet package’ insulation? I know that the SportSedan and SportCombi will, but I can’t remember about the ‘vert.

    My 2006 9-3 SportCombi is doing great – no NVH problems whatsoever with about 30,000 mi.

  6. Something as simple as the added “quiet package” insulation may remove the mental connection between the 9-3 and the Vectra in the journos’ heads. Let us not forget that the older gen 9-3s were indeed very noisy, something not quite premium and that was indeed a step back for Saab, previously known for great and luxurious interiors.

    So a step in the right direction. Let’s hope by the time the 9-4X and the new 9-5 are out the interior quality will be among the best in the industry once again.

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