Well, it had to happened some time. A non-glowing review of the 2008 Saab 9-3.
And wouldn’t you know it, it’s one of the serious car sites. Edmunds.com.
It wasn’t all bad news. They like the refreshed look, the quietness, the steering and they go so far as to call it “one of the most attractive entry-luxury cars on the road”. They talk up the XWD system, describing it as one that brings a new level of driver involvement, one that they claim has been absent for years. Many recent-model Saab owners may beg to differ on the absence, but that’s another thing all together.
Edmunds are a bit like C&D, in that they kneel at the alter of BMW and sing from the Audi hymnal. The areas that they pick out on the Saab are the interior, which we’ve commented on here before, and what they see as too much body roll on the Aero model.
They advise that someone considering the 2008 Saab 9-3 shop around before committing to one. I’d agree, and I’d go one further. Price up those alternatives so that include all the standard equipment you get in the 9-3. See the size of the hit you’ll take.
Then, as part of your research, go and drive a few Saabs long distance. Include some straights where you can check out the massive low-end torque as well as some twisties where you can check out exactly how bad that body roll is. My guess is that if you’re also kneeling at the same alter then you’ll be pleasantly surprised – especially if you’re driving the XWD that they’re supposedly talking about (though, there was only one XWD vehicle at the press event in the US, and that didn’t get run around the highways, but I digress).
Here’s some snippets from the article:
The sophisticated new XWD system is a bright spot, as it adds a level of driver involvement that has been absent from Saabs for years. Additionally, when equipped with XWD, the 2008 Saab 9-3 Aero picks up a higher-boost version of the turbocharged, 2.8-liter V6 rated at 280 hp. But even with its newfound grip and power, the 9-3 Aero XWD isn’t hard-edged enough to be considered a true sport sedan or sport wagon.
This one really cheesed me off. I really think the SportCombi is the best looking wagon out there and it drives just as well as the sedan does. I was following a BMW wagon through traffic last Friday morning and had to ask myself what. were. they. thinking? The SportCombi really is one of the sportier wagons out there, great looking and truly versatile.
The higher-boost version of the turbo V6 on 2008 Saab 9-3 Aero XWD models adds some excitement to the range, as it delivers noticeably sharper low-end response. The automatic transmissions can be reluctant with downshifts in “D,” but they respond with reasonable haste in sport mode…..
….Steering is light and accurate, but body roll around corners is excessive even on the more athletic Aero model. Enthusiasts would be wise to wait for a 9-3 Aero XWD, as the all-wheel-drive model’s exceptional grip makes for a more engaging driving experience.
It’s horses for courses, really. As Jay Spenchian said just over a year ago, Saab aren’t trying to make a car for a BMW buyer. Let them have them. If what you’re after is a great, versatile sport sedan or wagon that offers excellent value for money and great fun, the 9-3 should definitely be on your list.
The bulk of this review actually reads like it was written by a robot. There’s very little enthusiasm or feel there, which can only indicate that they didn’t get into the groove of this car at all. Edmunds’ head honcho, Karl Brauer, owns a Sonett III, and perhaps the individuality of that car is the standard by which all Saabs are judged. That’s a far-fetched line to draw, I know, but there’s little else to explain the lack of emotion or personality in this report.
All I can say is make sure you go and drive one. It’s got plenty of personality, both inside and out.