First Australian 2008 Saab 9-3 delivery

OK, much like my first Aussie 2008 BioPower sale story, the claim in the headline may not actually be completely accurate – but it IS the first delivery I’ve heard about here in Australia. Added to that, a few of the photos (that I won’t be showing here) will make a killer POO competition entry.

Our happy customer is Tony R, though it must be said that it’s a bittersweet happiness. The car, as you’ll see, is fantastic. It’s the road Tony had to travel to get it that leaves a bit to be desired.

This is a long story, and it’s probably an uncommon one, but it’s just not good enough for what is supposed to be a premium shopping experience where you’re spending a significant amount of money.

I’ll share some thoughts on that at the end.

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Aussie Saab

My name is Tony R from Nowra, NSW, and I’ve just became a SAAB owner for the first time. During my research for a new car I came across your ‘trollhattansaab.net’ website which I found most informative and thought you might be interested in my experience.

My pervious car was a ‘2003 Holden Astra SRI Turbo’ which was a fine but much under rated performer while my wife had a 2000 Astra CD. As all the ‘kids’ have now left home we decided it was time to rationalize our present and future transportation needs by moving into a ‘medium size 4 door car ‘, but something a bit upmarket. As you know this is a very competitive market with a large range of vehicles to choose from.

We decided the SAAB 9.3 meet our needs and in April this year placed a “Factory Order” for a manual 2007 Vector with the local SAAB dealer. The car was optioned over the standard features with silver metallic paint, slate grey leather upholstery, sports chassis (for handling) and bi-xenon headlamps (for kangaroo spotting).

The Vector model was chosen because it comes standard with the 2.0T (154kw) motor delivering I felt, a good balance between performance & economy. Wanting a manual necessitated a “Factory Order” as it appears SAAB Australia is mostly into slush boxes. This meant a 3 month wait for the car with planned delivery around the July/August time frame. At the same time we also off-loaded the Astra Turbo & CD resorting to driving around in a 10 year old (200,000km) Barina SB and Holden 1 Tonner (you might have gathered I’ve been a Holden man).

A couple of weeks after placing the order, SAAB Australia, through the dealer, offered to change the order to the soon-to-be-released new 2008 9.3 model car. With no information other then the scant releases on the internet we decided to go with the 2008 model on the premise that it would be the ‘latest model’ and that we retained as a minimum the features of the 2007 Vector. The only solid information I got was that I could expect to wait another month for car delivery, so we were now looking at September.

So it was with great interest that I followed the release of the 2008 9.3 on the internet and was most impressed with what I saw, but still no word from SAAB Australia on the Vector packaging for this country. Our car was in the initial Australia factory build and arrived in country during August, so I had great expectation that delivery would occur during September as previously expected. However this was not to be the case.

September turned to October and my dealer still could not get a delivery date out of SAAB Australia. You can imagine my frustration levels were starting to rise, particularly noting that SAAB Australia offer on the 2007 9.3 model ‘run out deals had initially been to the end of September, extended to the end of October and then further extended to the end of December. My reading between the lines was that SAAB Australia were not intending to release the 2008 model until they had run down their 2007 stock, which meant I was potentially looking at a January 08 delivery. This feeling was re-enforced by both a visit to the Sydney Motor Show in October and the apparent lack of detail for the 2008 model on SAAB Australia’s website.

The Sydney Motor Show was, as always, fantastic for the car ‘buff’. For me it also had added interest as I would see the new 2008 SAAB 9.3 in the flesh, hopefully obtain some specification details and possibly get some clue as to a possible delivery date. In the flesh the car looked even better. There were no specification details, however, only stuff on the 2007 model which SAAB were trying to flog. The only bit of information I got on the 2008 model was that a press release was planned for Friday 02 Nov 07, which I noted you attended.

Somewhat disappointed I spoke to my dealer and he confirmed there was still no delivery date from SAAB or any other information relating to the car except that it was stored in Sydney somewhere – so close but so far away.

Around this time a 2008 9.3 convertible appeared on the SAAB Australia website with a link to receive information, presumably on the new 2008 model. Hoping to get some info I responded to the website but instead of receiving 2008 info I just got a regurgitation of the 2007 model stuff.

Somewhat miffed I respond to the ‘SAAB customer service’ email site explaining my situation and requested a release date for my car, also with a slightly veiled threat that the car might not be worth the hassles. This seemed to have the desired effect as SAAB Australia responded that I would be in my car by mid November. I was somewhat happier and I planned with my dealer to take delivery of the car on Friday 16 Nov after it’s planned arrived at the dealership no later than Wednesday 14 Nov.

Things did not go to plan, the car supposedly was released from the Sydney warehouse Monday 12 Nov but got lost in the 70km transit and arrived at Wollongong Friday afternoon 16 Nov. My dealership and staff did the right thing and pre-delivered the car late Friday and Saturday morning so we could take delivery midday Saturday 17 Nov. Because SAAB Australia had not sent an ‘invoice’ with the car or released the new car codes to the NSW Road & Traffic Authority (RTA) I could only get it registered on the road with the dealer supplied plates and a one month interim rego label – but I had the car at long last.

Now the most important thing of this saga, the car.

In the flesh it was great and certainly did not look out of place with the surrounding Mercedes Benzes (see photo above). My dealer said he could have sold it three or four times just from the 24 hours it was sitting in the dealership. The ‘snow silver’ is a different tone from other silvers but very distinctive.

Things I’ve gained over the 2007 model are:

a. The new shape and colour, it is very distinctive
b. 2007 Aero 17″x7.5″ wheels which I feel are the best in the SAAB range and give the 235 tyres a wide footprint
c. 2007 Aero ventilated front/rear disc brakes
d. Rear parking sensors
e. Integrated Bluetooth phone
f. Premium natural leather sports seat & interior

Things I like most about the car:

a. 6 speed manual, what a delightful gearbox particularly compared to the ‘clunker’ in the 1 tonner
b. Sports suspension, works well and I don’t mind the slight increase in hardness or tyre roar, lets you know you are driving
c. The Bi-Xenon lights, they are brilliant
d. The seating, it is so comfortable, first car that I’ve driven where you arrive relaxed and not cramped
e. The sound system
f. All controls & info screen, functional and easy to use
g. Boot space
h. It is so pleasant to drive & cruise control works well
i. The 2.0T engine, a great combination of performance & economy, and finally
j. The $3000 rebate from Holden, which I’m still waiting to receive

Things I don’t like about the car: I’ll have to get back to you.

However three weeks following delivery, I had organsied with the dealer to change the rego plates over to our personal ones and even then things did not go smoothly as SAAB Australia had still not given the RTA the required information. It took two visits to the RTA and a phone call to SAAB Australia to get the plates changed, but that has now occurred.

Overall the car is an excellent, much underrated product and will certainly meet out needs in many smooth touring kilometers (hopefully around Tassie in 2008) and was worth the wait. From my experience SAAB Australia have some work to do with the ‘customer experience’ side of the business.

That is the SAAB story from my perspective. I’m now a very happy and content SAAB convert who owns a premium product that is different but distinctive, as they say “the rest is history!”

Regards Tony

——

I can just imagine the people at Saab Australia GM Premium Brands reading this and going “shut. up!” but really, this isn’t a slight directly at you.

My understanding is that most of the back office stuff for Saab is now handled by the same people that handle the Holden stuff. It’s a big GM office and regardless of whether it’s Saab or Holden the stuff goes through there.

GM Premium Brands does all the marketing etc for Saab and the model management etc, but spare parts and service is all generic GM.

And the truth of the matter is that GM management here in Australia is all about Holden. They joke about Saab and would probably throw a party if they didn’t have to deal with it.

If you want an argument against GM’s ownership of Saab, Tony’s purchase story is a case in point. Fantastic car with sub-par service.

GM Australia’s going to have to lift it’s game.

I’ll have some more shots of Tony’s car soon – it really is a stunner. and just wait until you see his other ‘vehicle’!!!

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14 Comments

  1. Congrats Tony R, sounds to me like you have the perfect Saab there. I can’t imagine wanting anything more short of a Turbo X. You might want to have a look at BSR though to take it to the next level.

    Fortunately the enjoyment of the car outweighs the pain of the customer service. Less tolerant people would go elsewhere though.

    My local dealer also gave the impression that Saab Oz has been holding back the ’08s. They are also still pretty clueless about the 2008 models and had no idea about the performance of the forthcoming Aero XWD. How can they build excitement in customers if they are not excited about the product? After showing a XWD video on the ipod there was some glimmer of enthusiasm. Much easier to sell the Hummers and HSVs when you’re kept in the dark on Saab. Takes Saabthusiasts like us to hit them over the head a bit.

  2. I am anticipating taking delivery of my 08 9-3 later this week (at least that what I’ve been advised by my dealer). I have had a remarkably similar (& frustrating) experience throughout the entire process. Getting any meaningful information or assistance from Saab Australia is like getting blood from a stone (including very senior Saab management). I can only sympathise with Tony R and hope (like him) that the joy of finally getting my hands on the car will outweigh the pathetic customer servcice I’ve recieved from Saab Australia throughout the process. Not good enough. Fingers (& toes) crossed!

  3. Hi Tony, I saw you on the SAAB stand at the motorshow and we had a brief chat. I’m glad you finally have your vehicle and are enjoying it.

  4. I would expect and hope that once Saab Aust see this (which they will) that Tony R gets a response.

    If not i can assist Tony in getting in contact with some people that will take this story VERY seriously..

    a.

  5. Well Tony, for a bit of consolation you are not the only one that has been messed around by Saab OZ. So, you are not alone. But I must state that the patience exhibited by you and my other colleague only demonstrates how deep the passion runs in our veins. If it was another brand I am sure both would have thrown your POs in the dealers face, walked off and gone to the opposition. But, we are all loyal and like being part of this elite group. Good on ya Tony especially when this is your first Saab !!!

  6. I just re-read all entries (and yes I am Joe Lobo from OZ) and turbins comments are spot on. The local dealer scene is very poorly equipped to do justice to the products. I just simply do not go to them to get some form of verification/assurance on anything technical or in detail. Those are answered here or through our network of contacts. I noticed that in the latest Saab Magazine there are errors in the specs of the Aero kw power. How can they do justice to these vehicles ??? It’s easier to sell Hummers and HSVs isn’t it ???

  7. Awful! Complaint must be made, preferably to GM a bit higher up in the chain not Saab Australia they obviusly doesn’t care…

  8. …said it before, SAAB Aust sucks. Sorry but its just true.

    For the record when i have been to the Holden dealer to check out the new commodores and mention that i was in the market for a SAAB, they gave each other an amusing look.

    Don’t know exactly what this means but one can draw ones own conclusions. By comparison, i think Ford has given far more respect to the Volvo brand than GM has to SAAB.

  9. And the respect that Ford has given to Volvo has paid off. Rarely does the media mention the Volvo platforms being shared with Ford. Not a bad thing anyway as the Fords are dynamically very good.

    Everybody can’t help but mention that Saabs are built on the Vectra platform and are just dressed up versions of the same. If GM had given Saab the respect it deserved then they would have named Saab every time they ripped something off and put it in a Vectra or Holden. Saab powered Opels would be recognised as such. Saab developed the engines and should be named for it. All the hot Ford Focii and Mondeos are recgonised as having the “Volvo sourced” I5T.

    I admit it goes both ways and for sure Saab does not trumpet it’s 2.8V6T as being made by Holden in Melbourne (from Mexican sources heads and blocks). But this would not be good marketing.

    GM Holden’s actions and words have been enormously disrespectful of Saab and that’s just poor business if nothing else. Yes Holden/HSV make some storming vehicles but they are also selling rebadged Daewoos. If they can’t recognise the superior design, build and finish of a Saab over locally made Holdens as being worth anything then neither can the customer.

    I bought a Saab Sportcombi because it was the best car for my family. Holden could not offer me a rightsized wagon, it was either a downspec Astra wagon or a highly outdated (even by Saab standards) Commodore. The upcoming Commodore Sportwagon is a step in the right direction, even if it is just appropriating a range of Saab production and concept cues. But I don’t need a vehicle that consumes 10+l/100km through a noisy (and not good noisy) and undertorqued V6.

    The Saab does it for me and my family and that outweighs any disrespect, backhanded comments or incredulous looks I get from Holden staffers or fans (or those any other make for that matter).

  10. turbin, i think you said it all for me. Take a look at the quality /performance of Fords (current) small/mid sized cars as opposed to Holdens’.

    As for SAAB leveraging from GM, i think this is a generally one-sided affair with SAAB doing all the value-add. To this, i think they have to right to claim the redesigned V6 as pretty much their own. The current ‘dore V6 is average at best and likely be trounced by FORDs offering next year.

    IMO, the new Mondeo is a fantastic car, especially the XR5 with its hatch.

  11. craig, I expect that the Mondeo XR5 will further erode potential Saab sales as a ‘prestige’ level turbocharged practical hatch with an understated style, mated with sporty driving characteristics. Hang on, that’s pretty much Saabs brand ethos, isn’t it? Am I right?

  12. turbin,

    Right and er, um right. I have to admit that i haven’t really been much into Fords generally but their small /mid range have taken a direction i quite like.

    I saw pics of the Mondeo and thought “..not bad..”. When i hopped into one i was gobsmacked. I don’t think i’ve ever seen a ford (or holden) with this level of refinement/quality and engineering. I really has left me in a quandry about what to do next year.

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