So you US Saabers, whaddaya think?

The SOC has been and gone, and with it the unveiling of the 2008 Saab 9-3.

That means a bunch of US Saabers got their first up close and personal view of the car in the metal rather than in pictures.

2008 Saab 9-3

Image courtesy of Wulf’s SOC collection

I’d be interested in hearing what you guys thought of the car now that you’ve finally seen it in person.

I was impressed with the look of this car right from the first pics that popped up in Swedish newspapers. Those images were good, but I felt that the car had even more presence in person. This is a very strong design and it looks even better in motion than it does standing still.

So, US Saabers – whaddaya think?

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  1. I was very critical about the redesign in my posts on Saab Central. Most of that was based on seeing the spy pictures. I didn’t like it at all, thought it was too aggressive and preferred the old design so much more. But after seeing it in person at the SOC, I completely changed my opinion. It looks awesome when you see the actual car in person and I think it is one of the best designs coming out of Trollhattan. I wish they had done the 9-5 redesign like this 2008 9-3.

    I prefer the lower bumper treatment from the 2.0T over the Aero but that is subjective. I am still not a big fan of the new interior but the better quality leather is a big improvement of the overall feel. I think the redesign will be a big hit in the USA.

  2. I love it. It is one of the best re-freshes I’ve seen in the modern age. It is fantastic that Saab looked to the past (clamshell hood) and future (Aero-X inspired lines) to make the 9-3 look like a completely new automobile.
    I concur with Wulf that the 9-5 would have been better off taking the same approach from a visual standpoint.
    Adding XWD and more power is icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned. THIS is the Saab to buy. Make mine an Aero SportCombi (or Turbo X SportCombi πŸ™‚

  3. I’m glad to see more and more photos of the “Plain Jane” 2.0T after seeing dozens and dozens of the Aero. I was worried that the front treatment, specifically the air dam, would look awful without the black treatment, but to my delight it actually looks quite nice.

    It seems to me that both the “freshened” 9-5 and the new 9-3 look a bit nose heavy which is running a bit contrary to current design trends–something that hopefully the all-new models coming out in a few years will address. I’m guessing that the only way to get a more-rounded front end without making serious structural changes is to push some of the middle part outward. The now-departing 9-3 models didn’t seem to have such a prominent nose. Having said that, the new 9-5 is far more pleasant in person than in photos which is a bit perplexing to me.

    I’m encouraged that the General is moving Saab
    in the right direction.

    I’m very much looking forward to driving one soon and ordering one for European delivery in the spring. Winning the lottery would help quicken the process….

  4. Well – most you know what my gripe will be, so I won’t lament, but aside no bluetooth here are my thoughts:

    I couldn’t agree more with Wulf and Kraig, although I have not yet seen it in person (aside from peering through chicken fence at the Saab factory in Trollhattan).

    I always thoughts the lower grill is much better on the 2.0T, and these recent photos confirm that. The extra chrome around the fog lights on the Aero is a bit too much.

    The car does seem very elongated in the front, but I’ll reserve my final judgement until I see it in person.

    Other than that I think the car is absolutely amazing. The new door handles look good, the tail lights aren’t really a deal breaker – when all is said and done it’s the FRONT lights that matter, and these new ones are fantastic!

    I’ll probably get used to the blended door strips, and the fact that Saab reduced the amount road noise will probably push me to buy a MY08 (assuming the rumored $2500 cash back will happen) over a 07.

    Saab definitely has a winner on their hands. My only question is, is the “new” cup holder more durable that before? I thought I read it was made out of better material?

  5. I hope I am not the only one here who likes the chrome on the front of the Aero. I think it is distinctive and not something that you see on every Mercedes, Audi, BMW clone-car.

    I’ll definitely be getting a new MY 2008, but I just don’t know if I will the Aero convertible as soon as one makes it to a Washington, D.C. area dealership or the SportSedan in Turbo X spec in January.

  6. Not having the pleasure of seeing the 08 9-3 ‘in the flesh’ I can only make two observations from the photos. 1/ Those 16″ wheels are a non-no, they really need to be 17″ to balance out the car and 2/ Snow Silver *sound of Homer Simpson-esque drooling*.

    Gryphon, I’d head to your dealer and put a big old deposit on a SS Turbo X if you need a little advice πŸ˜‰ .

    If I win the lottery this weekend I am going to be the first Turbo X owner here in Vancouver and will buy a silver grey BMW 535i to keep me occupied until my Saab arrives. Keep you fingers crossed for me all non-Canadian ‘Saabers’. πŸ˜€

  7. Jeff —

    I am glad to hear it! Fingers crossed that the new MY 2008s roll onto dealer lots soon. It’s hours away from September here!

  8. Gryphon,

    You said, “I hope I am not the only one here who likes the chrome on the front of the Aero. I think it is distinctive and not something that you see on every Mercedes, Audi, BMW clone-car.”

    The other day a luxury car (can’t remember what brand) passed me and I noticed that it had the same type of chrome treatment but on the rear bumper. I’m wondering if other luxury brands are already doing what we thought SAAB invented.

  9. @eggsngrits
    I started a thread on SC to find out more about this 9000 but it got mostly responses of how it looks like a Chevrolet Beretta.. Out of 20 responses, only the second post had one line with helpful information from sleeper9kt:

    That car was a prototype built by ASC and apparently it made the auto-show rounds around the time it was built.

    The car had a temporary registration in the rear window. When I went back after 10 minutes to take some more pictures, it was gone and I didn’t see it again.

  10. Regarding the “elongated” front end, I think that this is another case of the photos playing tricks on us. I also thought the front end was too long looking when I saw the photos, but in person it’s not as pronounced as in the pictures.

    I think this is because people rarely (myself included) take a picture of the front end straight-on. They take it slightly downward while standing in front of the car, which gives the illusion of the front end being longer than it is. Look as a straight-on side shot and you’ll see that it’s simply an optical illusion.

    As for whether you should buy a 2007 or 2008, you’re not going to have that choice for long (if it’s not too late already). I understand from SAAB USA that the 2007 is essentially sold-out.

    My opinion used to be that it’d be better to pick up a 2007 Anniversary Edition deeply discounted rather than to wait for the ’08, but I’ve changed my mind after driving the ’08 all day. The noise reduction package would be the major reason. Also, small things like the beefed-up cupholder and addition of FREE rain-sensing wipers and bitchin’ light pipes in the front make the ’08 the one to get, IMHO.

    To answer your question on the cupholder: I don’t know. The ’08 I was driving around on Tuesday had the same old ’07 cupholder in it, but I believe this was one of the pre-production mules they had at the SAAB Festival in Trollhattan, so it might not have had the upgraded cupholder yet.

    Wulf: you were at S.O.C.? What do you look like? You’re from SoCal too, aren’t you? If I weren’t so damned anti-social I might have introduced myself while I was there.

    gryphon: I wouldn’t bank on the Turbo-X hitting dealers in January. The press material I got this week said that the XWD system will debut “Spring, 2008” so that would indicate to me that it’s going to be sometime between March and May. Because the Turbo-X is going to be the “launch vehicle” for XWD, I’m guessing its introduction will coincide with that of the XWD system.

    If you’re trying to decide between a convertible, which will be available within a few weeks from now or a Turbo-X which won’t be available for possibly nine months, I guess it depends on when you need a car…

  11. @1985 Gripen
    I used to live in SoCal but I recently moved back to Michigan. I think I recognized you from the San Diego event pictures but, the anti-social person I am as well, didn’t introduce myself either. But regardless, I think you were hard to catch because you were running around with a notepad making notes all day. I’ll send you a message through SC.

    But getting back on track, the picture on top of this thread was taken with a wide-angle lens setting as well. It really is different in person.

  12. Had to chime in on the fog light surrounds. Check out, and look at the Malibu/Malibu Maxx. In the USA, Saab’s GM-ness is painfully evident.

    Don’t get me wrong though, the refresh is positive overall. Much needed to have any hope of selling these cars again. However, the old style was much better looking for a 2003 model than this one is for 2008. The new dash from 2007 is still my biggest gripe though.

  13. Gripen – thanks for the note about the cupholder.

    As far as sold out, Saab probably means sold out of the lots in Trollhattan. There are plenty of 07s at the dealers, but then again, I live in CT, where I see more Saabs than I do Audis, and close to as many beamers.

    I’m just going to reserve judgement until I see them side by side at the dealer.

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