This review comes from Bengt P. As you’ll see below, he’s just picked up a 2008 Saab 9-3 to replace his Volvo V50. When Bengt mentioned in comments a few days ago that he was going to pass on his impressions there, I wrote to him and offered the chance to make a full article of it. Here’s what he’s come back with.
Thanks Bengt, and enjoy everyone. The pictures are clickable, as usual.
Four days ago I picked up my new car, a 9/3 SportCombi 2008 and I thought that I should give you my first impressions and also a comparison with my former car, a Volvo V50 T5 2004, when I still have fresh memories of it. Note that I am not new to SAAB. Before the Volvo I had a 2000 9/5 SC 2.3 and has also owned a 1990 9000 Turbo and a couple of 900s.
My SAAB has the following specifications:
Engine: 1..9 TiD, diesel, 150 hp, 320 Nm
Gearbox: Manual 6-speed
Equipment level: Vector Active. I think this equipment level is not available on all markets but it is basically the Vector + some extras
Color: Jet Black
Wheels: Alloy wheel 5-spoke Y 17×7″ called ALU 45 in Sweden
I had decided to not by a petrol car, and ethanol was never an option despite a lot of advantages with taxes etc here in Sweden, but I am sorry to say that I don’t believe in it when it is produced in the way it is today and also because of the fuel consumption itself. My friend’s 9-5 SC + caravan consumed 18 l/100 km this summer.
So, time for diesel.
Of course I considered the 180 hp TTiD version but I didn’t have time to first wait a couple of months to get a test drive, and then wait for the delivery. I heard from the dealer this week that they expected the TTiD to arrive sometime late December. Another reason was that I thought it was time to grow up and ask myself if it was worth another 1300 € and if I really needed the extra power. After a test drive with the TiD I came to the conclusion that this engine was fully enough for me. (My Volvo V50 T5 was equipped with a 220 hp engine so there should be a big difference). If life gets too boring, it is good to know that my hometown is the same as BSR’s and that their upgrade to 184 Hp/412 Nm costs 850 €.
So I picked up my new SAAB 4 days ago. I was a little nervous about the wheels because I had only seen them in pictures before, but they were just as nice as I hoped for (grown up??).
So far I have noticed the following:
– It is a real SAAB, it feels like coming home.
– The SAAB feels larger than the Volvo in almost all aspects
– The Volvo seats are very good but the SAAB seats are better! They are slightly bigger, have better support for the upper part of your back and are not as hard as the Volvo seats.
– The Volvo interior is more minimalistic or more “Scandinavian design” compared to the SAAB. Minimalistic is also the keyword when describing the space available for mobile, wallet or whatever you need to put somewhere in the Volvo. The SAAB interior is much more cozy and “warm”. There are no big differences in material quality in the interior but Volvo feels slightly better. I don’t like the tachometer in the SAAB, it feels very cheap and un-exact and please bring back the progressive speedometer
– The Volvo is more of a sport car than the SAAB with quicker responses, harder suspension but also “bumpier” and un-comfortable. The SAAB handling is very good but feels slower and more comfort oriented. The SAAB is very silent compared to the Volvo. The differences in noise and comfort are something you notice all the time especially on the sometime bad roads around my hometown.
– It is hard to compare the engines. They are two very different machines. The T5 engine is very powerful and flexible. I doesn’t matter which gear you use, the power is always there. The SAAB diesel engine is a little bit weak at low rpm but then it is very strong and powerful. You have to drive this car in another way, a little bit like the old turbos. I like the engine very much and once again it is very comfortable and quiet with just a little more than 1500 rpm in 90 km/h.
Conclusion so far:
I am very satisfied with my new car and I don’t miss the Volvo at all. Despite the fact that the both cars are of similar size, almost the same price, produced by Swedish manufacturers owned by American companies etc, the cars are very different. Much more different then I would expect.
In my case it is an easy choice; I would chose the SAAB before the Volvo 9 times out of 10.