Autoblog drive the 2008 Saab 9-3

It’s going to be hard to criticise the Autoblog review of the 2008 Saab 9-3 based on the fact that they only drove it for 4 miles when it was just yesterday that I lauded another reviewer who participated in the same drive event.

But here goes….

Autoblog summed up their brief 9-3 experience as follows:

…..we found the 9-3 on hand at Milford excelled in its ability to be average at everything.

John Neff drove the 2.0T version of the 9-3 over a prepared course at GM’s proving ground at Milford as part of a ride and drive event where writers got to sample a whole host of GM’s 2008 model lineup.

A reading of the full report indicates to me that perhaps they didn’t really do their homework prior to driving the 9-3. I’d take a guess and say that they’d never set foot in a 2007 model and it’d been a while since they’d seen a pre-2007 (i.e. button dash) model, let alone driven one.

At the start of the review, they say that it’s a mid-cycle enhancement that features mainly just exterior styling tweaks. Well, there’s over 2,000 changes to the model lineup in all. The exterior’s the most obvious part as it’s the bit you can see. But there’s more.

They mention that the interior was pretty quiet, exhibiting no squeaks or rattles. That’s due, in large part, to the simplified dash from 2007 as well as the quiet package that’s new for 2008. They mention explicitly that the dash is cleaner than what they remember from Saab, which would indicate that to me it’s been some time since they sat in one as his dash has been the standard issue for over a year now.

They mention that the auto, combined with the 2.0T engine seems pretty docile. They don’t mention, however, whether they hit the ‘S’ button for ‘sport mode’ on the automatic so we don’t know whether they did or not. Sport mode is another new addition for 2008.

Other elements fare Ok. Brakes, interior. It’s a pretty short review based on a pretty short drive. From an educated Saaber’s point of view there’s a few points where I think they’re running on a lack of information.

On the flip side, running on a lack of information should also provide a lack of prejudice, so maybe there’s still some work to be done.

I think there is, and it probably involves a week in the Autoblog garage rather than 4 miles at Milford.


So how do I reconcile this with yesterday’s writeup from the guy at Oh Gizmo?

Well, he’s definitely got few prejudices, and he drove an Aero SportCombi, which he looked at from a utility point of view as well as being struck by the performance.

Aero SportCombi vs 2.0T SportSedan – not inconceivable that there’s different thoughts.

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  1. I think you’re being a bit too kind on Autoblog, but you are right, some time in the Autoblog garage might help them see the light.
    I was pleasantly surprised though by the number of Saab defenders in the comments.

  2. “…excelled in its ability to be average at everything.”

    Average at everything = crap at nothing, right?? Well that’s a start.

  3. Agreed, Ted. As mentioned, it’s difficult to hard at them with a) such a short drive, and b) me praising a report from the same event.

    But the number of defenders in comments was definitely encouraging and a change from prior reports about Saab there.

  4. Re: the power issue… I’ve driven the ’02 205hp 2.3L and the ’07 210hp 2.0L. I thought the 2.3 had better drivability. Anyone else care to comment?

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