Why is it that British motoring journalists, and Brits themselves I guess, see a lot more in Saab that their US counterparts? Is the smaller roads and shorter distances that make a what the yanks call a compact car seem just the right size?
Whatever it is, the poms seem like their Saabs a lot. This is not to say that the 9-3 is getting crticised heavily in the US – far from it. But there just seems to be more enthusiasm for the brand in the UK.
The latest demonstration of this comes from Channel4’s motoring site. They’ve recently reveiwed the 9-3 and it’s come up with 4 out of 5 stars and a whole lot of good press. That’s a lot better than their last SportCommbi review. If you o to the link above and click “play video” it’ll show the previous review. If you discount the errors (3-litre V6) you’ll hear that they found it pretty uninspiring. Not so here.
The Saab combination of powerful, turbocharged engines and a carefully-honed, well-balanced chassis makes for a very different and more relaxed experience than that offered by, say, a rear-wheel-drive 3-Series. Saab has now virtually eliminated the tyre-scrabble and torque-steer inherent in its earlier powerful turbo models and the 9-3 is immensely civilised, but it doesn’t have to be boring – it depends on your driving style.
We’ve not had a chance to try this out on the road yet, but a quick sample on Saab’s test track suggests that it’s going to be very good indeed. Handling stability, control under hard cornering and on slippery surfaces, and resistance to both understeer and oversteer all seem excellent.
The 180bhp/295lb ft TTiD engine is, in many ways, the most impressive so far. With a two-stage turbocharging system – one small turbo for low engine speeds and start-up, a second larger one kicking in at higher speeds – it is highly refined, with no trace of turbo lag, no clatter and none of the traditional disadvantages of diesels.
On economy, they don’t like the bigger options, but there’s these:
The new 2.0t Biopower does 35.8mpg and the 1.8t 37.7mpg, which sounds more impressive, but, as there are no fiscal incentives (as yet) to use E85 in the UK, the diesels remain the economy options – 52.3mpg from the 120bhp TiD, 48.7mpg from the 150bhp version, and 47.9mpg from the 180bhp TTiD.
Don’t you American’s wish you could get the TTiD over there? 400Nm and 47 mpg.
It’s a recommended read. It’s not all postives but a good all-round review of a great new Saab.