Saab vs Nissan

This will be an interesting series of entries to keep an eye on.

Dan S currently owns a Nissan Maxima and I get the impression that he’s been pretty happy with it. Dan’s interested in a 2008 Saab 9-3, but as there’s been some pretty big offers on the 2007 model – and because it’ll be good to compare with the 2008 anyway – Dan lined up a 2007 test drive with his local Saab dealer last week.

Here’s his thoughts:

I was most impressed with my test drive of what I thought would be a humble MY07 2.0T 6-spd this evening. It compared very favorably to my currently Nissan Maxima 3.0L V6 rated @ 200HP. It was so smooth & tight & WOW, that comfy seat.

The drive was about 15 minutes long, but my salesperson (the Saab sales Manager) was very good, & allowed me to dip into the turbo more than I would have thought allowable for a test drive. Another bonus – she showed me a wonderful, curvy & hilly 2+ mile countryside loop road I hadn’t yet discovered, only 5 minutes from my house! I’m going to have to check out that drive to learn it better….

I can now better appreciate what the road test auto journalists are writing about when they rave about the smooth drivability of a Saab. I loved the oozing power of the turbo, so COOL! It seems to come from nowhere & gets you up to steam with no effort.

Having 1 extra gear to play with seemed a bit redundant – I guess 6th is best for the drawn out highway runs… I thought this 2007 model was fine in the quiet department, therefore the 2008’s should be even better than what is good already.

Toward the end of the test drive, doing a turn around she said, “Go for it!” and there was hardly any tire spin/chirping going around that corner. FUN with control! Can’t imagine how much more controlled it will be with 280HP and XWD!

And in relation to his Maxima, Dan offered the following in a subsequent email:

My daily driver is a 2000 Nissan Maxima, 3.0L, 5-spd factory rated at 200HP, with about 86,000 miles on it – its tired, but still willing. Last year the replacement of the standard air filter with a same sized K&N filter made it feel better than 200HP, like more torque. But the 2007 Saab 9-3 2.0L turbo just felt better.

Last night, I remembered one of the statements you made that rang true. This Saab, even with the smaller motor would have me looking for excuses to drive out of the way detours again!

That’s what it’s all about. They joy of driving. And that 2.0T engine is an absolute cracker. You might think of it as a humble base engine, but remember it was the Aero engine just a couple of years ago. It’s got zing, baby!

Allow me to quote Olav, a 9-5 owner from Norway, and the signature on his emails:

From Olav, who always takes the long way home.

Dan, we’ll be looking forward to your local dealer getting some 2008 models in stock. Thanks for telling us your impressions and keep us posted!

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  1. Dan, thats what makes a Saab such a blast – its those windy roads and sharp curves where a Saab really performs. Keep us posted!

  2. I used to own 2002 Nissan Maxima 6 speed. It had 3.5l 255hp engine (the all mighty VQ35DE). It was a blast to drive. Once you get over the huge wheel hop and get used to holding the steering wheel tight (otherwise torque stee will leave you in the ditch)…you could beat unsuspecting v8 Mustang off the line with no problem. It was smooth, quiet and comfortable. It even had a heated steering wheel. The only negative about it was that it really sloppy on the handling…the front end would dive too much. Lowering, springs, stut bars would help a bit…but still not fully eliminate the problem. I drove it for a year and then bought a 2003 9-3 Aero (210hp). 93 handled better, 3rd gear was great…but off the line performance was not as good. These are different cars not meant to compete with each other.

  3. Sergey, I can relate to the torque steer & wheel hop – good thing I know to keep a stiff grip on my steering wheel.

    Swade, thanks for posting my test drive impressions. I just got home (late) & saw the first MY08 on my local dealer lot, still pre-prep. I took some low light phone pix & will forward them by e-mail later. My biggest impression was after doing a thorough walk-around of the MY08 9-3 2.0t w/auto trans, the MY07’s look pretty sorry in comparison. That new front end is AWESOME, but I’m still not sure about those tail lights – didn’t look good in black, maybe better with other colors. I’ll save my final opinion when I see in Fusion Blue Metallic & Ice Blue…YUM!

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