Post-Saab life: Which car should I buy next?

I don’t currently own a car. It’s a strange feeling – the first time in 24 years. In a few weeks from now I’ll start working again, in a post-Saab position, and I’m probably going to need to buy a car to get there and back. The questions is – which car should I buy next?

I say probably as I actually have access to a couple of vehicles at the moment – a Subaru Impreza and a Toyota Corolla (more on that one later). Neither of those are floating my boat, however, and I can’t see myself going too long without something more….. engaging.

I should say at this point that I don’t mean to upset any Saab fans by posting this. No-one cares about Saab more than I do but I have to recognise that my time working for Saab is over. Even if the company were to be purchased as part of the bankruptcy proceedings, it is highly unlikely that I would be asked to work for the new entity. I poured seven years of my life into this company, and all but six months of that time was as an enthusiast, without compensation. I care deeply about what happens to Saab, but in many respects, I’m also moving on.

I know a few friends of mine and readers of this website are in a similar position. I’ve read comments and had conversations to this effect. People are asking themselves and others – what next? They may not be in the position that I’m in where I have to purchase something quite soon, but it’s happening.

——

If you’re in that position, what are your options as you see them?

I’d be interested to know if you’re going for another Saab or for a change in brand to something you feel you can live with a little easier.

We still own a Saab – the 9000 CS that my wife drives more than me – and I think we’ll most likely always have a Saab in our family, but not more than one.

——

Personally speaking, I will probably seek to buy a couple of cars this year. One will be a daily driver and the other a classic that I’ve wanted for some time. A long-term keeper. I’ll most likely look for the daily driver first and I have three criteria for that car:

  • Inexpensive (A$7K max)
  • Relatively reliable
  • Engaging to drive

It may also need to be a decent load carrier, but that’s not mandatory just at the moment.

This post-Saab life is pretty difficult, I have to say. I’ve been scouring the classifieds for well over a month and there’s hardly anything of interest in terms of daily drivers that meet those three criteria. If I keep an eye on load capacity the field shrinks even further.

Right now, the two best non-Saab candidates I can find are both Hondas. The Integra and Prelude VTI-R versions with the V-tec engines. The Integra is the model I’m more familiar with and I know it has the load-carrying capacity I might need with the rear seats down. The ‘inexpensive’ and ‘reliable’ criteria are covered and it should be a decent drive. It doesn’t really have many of the other attributes I’d prefer – like character – but you’ve got to start somewhere, right?

The next best candidate might be either an old Alfetta GTV or an E36 BMW. One might be short on reliability (even if big on character) and the other’s just …… not me from an historical perspective. On the other hand, though, I’ve taken a peek at the E36 and despite the poor personal and historical fit, there is some personal interest in owning a Euro RWD sedan, even if only for a little while. Even if I’m a Saab guy first, I’m a car guy over all, and there are many ownership experiences I want to have in the next 20-30 years. It’d be handy to be able to talk about a BMW ownership experience from a first hand perspective.

None of these are a done deal, but it’s both interesting and very frustrating to do some initial exploration of what might come next. There will always be a Saab around our house, but there’s also a world of possibilities out there.

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63 Comments

  1. Citroen? The company shares a number of Saab attributes, being an early proponent of front wheel drive and aero design. It was engineering-led, has a long rallying history, and like Saab, has always been something of an iconoclastic choice (outside of France, anyway).

  2. I have a quasi-relative, my mother’s sister’s brother-in-law, who I always liked because, like me, he was something of a family outcast. He lived for years in Cambridge and I would see him on accasion, or catch a ride with him to famiily functions when I was in college. He was a “bad boy,” smoked Camels and pot, and generally eschewed bourgeois life. His car of choice was Alfa Romeo. He had explained to me how he had never owned anything but, and was such a hard core driver that in college he earned his money by teaching others to drive, such was his reputation. Somewhere in rural Michigan, he said, there might still be multi-colored lines on some twisty roads where he had laid out apex guidelines depending on the type of car he cas instructing for.

    In the late 1980s I ws working at a Chevy-Honda-Saab concern in Cambridge, and one day I saw him there and asked what he was doing, and he replied picking up his new Accord Coupe. I looked at him astonished. He explained that the Alfa he had wanted wasn’t available, so he decided to get an interim car and while he said he loathed the vanilla aspect of the car, he could endure it for a while.

    I saw him again a year later. He ws picking up a Prelude. Whoa! This required an explanation. He told me that months into owning the Accord it had dawned on him that while he never quite got the viceral thrill in that car that he did in his Alfas, that the Accord started every single day, never broke down, and everything worked perfectly, so he decided on another with a bit more of a sporting bent, and said he was suprised at how little he was missing his Alfas.

    There have been conversations in my home about what we all will drive next. My kids were horrified at the thought of an STi (engine too fraglie), nobody objected too much to the idea of a Mini or Speed-3, and I could be happy, I think, in a C-30. But if I had a $7k budget right now, I think I’d be buying a $3k Saab and banking the other $4 for repairs. A few years from now….we’ll just have to see.

  3. I drive an ’07 9-3 SS currently, but my first car I ever purchased once I started my working life was a ’94 Integra hatchback. I absolutely loved that car and would buy one today if it were still offered. With the rear seats down the carryine capacity is surprising, and the car had a wonderful spring it its step. It wouldn’t be a concern for you but with a decent set of all-season tires on it that little car performed quite admirably in some pretty deep snow, too.

  4. Similar dilemma. I migrated from Saab, sadly, in 2010 to Volvo — xc60. It’s quite good, but the driving dynamics are a bit limited. Looking for a commuter car with some dynamics, I purchased a 2009 2-dr VW Rabbit (Golf beyond the U.S.). It has the droning 2.5 5-cylinder, but it is peppy as a manual shift, and with 17″ wheels, a good handler. Something to consider. I’m enjoying it. Good luck with your search and I’m glad for the opportunity to follow you again, independent of Saab.

  5. ANYTHING but a h***a.
    I’m liking Pierre0031’s idea of a used Saab. Don’t know what values are there, but 7k will buy a decent mileage 5 or 6 yr old 9.3 here. Maybe even newer now. The later Saabs are very reliable, and still fun. Parts and service might be an issue around your neck of the woods I understand, but still…
    Of course, I’m thinking a Monaro or Grp A Commodore, but dont know if they’d fit into your budget. Definitely a Holden Ute if haulage is a concern.
    Buddy in New Zealand has a few years old Falcon with some go fast bits – stone reliable and fun to drive according to him.
    Or Alfa Romeo. Bags of character usually, and my experience has been admittedly limited, but pretty fair on the reliability end. Certainly not like a good ol Chevy pickup, but certainly within reason.
    Or how about a Jeep? Should be able to find a good XJ / Cherokee for that money – very reliable, a little space to haul stuff and they have character. Not ‘sportscar’ type character, but still character.
    And as ev2 suggested, the GTI would be good too. Dont think you could get the whole family in there, but apparently thats not too big of an issue cause either of the potential mistakes you listed earlier wouldn’t fill that requirement either.
    Or a C class Mercedes. Or, I dont know, I’ll hafta think about it…

  6. Steven, looks like you really have moved on! I guess that’s understandable and inevitable, but a bit sad none the less.

    For fun I’ve just had a year or so in a gen 7 Toyota Celica. Purely a toy as I have two others, but the Celica was great! Very quick, handled very, very well and was utterly reliable. Something to think about?

    Never experienced Hondas, but the guys I know that have rave about them – well, the hot ones at least! Again, reliable and honest cars.

    If I was going to spend about £4K (I think that’s the rough exchange to UK pounds) I’d probably look at a Volvo S60 T5 (i had one for three glorious, trouble-free years) or maybe a LExus IS…don’t laugh, these cars a ARE good! Try one and see!

    Good luck with the new position too and congrats for finding one so quick!

    Barry

  7. I’ve gone through the same mental exercise as you, although my 9-3 hatchback is good for 10 more years (I hope). Here’s what I find interesting.

    Land Rover – Always wanted a Series Rover (some of my earliest memories are of my dad’s work-provided Series IIA 109). Neither economical nor reliable, but the support network is much better in Australia.

    Smart – Quite the contrast with the first choice. Always loved the way they look, and the steering is quite enjoyable on non-power steering models.

    (New) Mini – Anything with the current 1.6 (the one Saab was going to use). Avoid the previous gen with the Chrysler engine. A Clubman could be practical.

    Porsche – They are all good drives, even the weediest 924.

    VW/Audi – Passats and A4s with the 1.8T are actually quite reliable. I do hate VW’s “dead” pedal feel. They do understeer like it’s going out of style (it is).

    MB – Nothing after 1990 or so.

    Of course, my list would be very different if I had access to brands sold in Australia (Alfa, Citroen come to mind).

    I haven’t included any Japanese cars. They just don’t age well as far as I am concerned. The engine may keep going (or not, if it’s a Supra/Tercel/Subaru, etc), but the bodies wear like old blue jeans, and the interiors aren’t much better.

    In the end, if I was looking for a car today, I would start by searching for a nice Dame Edna 9-5, preferably a manual wagon.

  8. Mid last year I was faced with a similar difficult decision. The car I had; Swade has owned one in the same colour and killed it! (Sorry for bringing up that bad memory again Steve). My situation was that my Viggen required some parts to be renewed which was going to run into a couple of thousand of Euros. This wouldn’t have been a problem if it wasn’t for the fact that the Viggen was not fulfilling the requirements I needed it too do for my Job. I looked at a new 9-3 Sportcombi and 9-3x. However it would mean making compromises when loading it with DJ equipment. Bottom line; I needed a van, yet the thought of owning a van was just too much to bare. The main issue was, what would I do when I needed to carry on the very rare occasion; people! So an MPV was the route I was heading down. Shaking my head in disbelief that I was going to buy the very car that I’ve always said “the day I buy an MPV is the day my life has ended,” I started searching the internet for something that was big enough to carry my equipment but compact enough to keep insurance, fuel usage and tax down. Driving Saabs for 10 years had left me accustomed to certain creature comforts, again it was about working out what I could live without however; this was nothing compared to actually finding a car that had the perfect loading space, looking at Citroen, Peugeot, Volkswagen, Renault, Land Rover, Dacia, KIA, BMW, Nissan, Toyota and Mercedes. Brand cache was not of high priority and I’m sure OPEL’s new Zafira would of made a good candidate but where as I can be quoted that there are enough brands in the world so that I need not have to consider a Volkswagen, I think the less said about GM and their offerings is probably the better. Anyway; swiftly moving….

    What I found is there are a lot of small cars and crossovers on the market that are great for carrying people and luggage, They all have really cool fold-flat rear seats and some manufacturers even have the option the fold the passenger seat flat too. Yet; when it came to loading a 90cm high PA-system in the car, every single vehicle failed bar one. The problem is that whilst you have a complete flat loading surface you are loosing 30cm of height in a folded seat you don’t need to use or lug around for that matter.

    The car that is in fact sat in my driveway, is the Volkswagen Touran. It has a 1.2 Twin-Turbo engine that delivers 105hp and stop-start technology. It’s practically half the engine, power and CO2 output of the Viggen yet the downside is that the fuel usage isn’t but it does average about 2 litres to 100km less than the Saab. On the whole; I’m very very happy with the car but I only bought it because it wasn’t worth me investing any more money into the Saab as it just wasn’t practical enough. There’s a lot of things that sadden me for not driving a Saab anymore and given different circumstances and different needs from a vehicle I wouldn’t think twice about buying a Saab again.

    1. I might have a similar dilemma, WooDz, as I’m beginning to get back into music again. If I have to carry a bass amp around then a two-seat convertible is out the picture. But how to combine fun and load-lugging (if required)?

      1. With great difficulty. I bet you could get a bass amp in the back of a 9-5 Estate without any compromise but then you could also get it the back of a 328 touring too.

  9. Well, my best tip is to buy something interesting that the normal buyers would avoid. After 8 months in a wonderful Saab 9-5 Aero TTiD MY 2011 (guess where I used to work…) you do not want to put your behind in something without a soul. So – no Toyota for me. A Lexus would dothe job but unfortunately this would be in contrast to my first sentence. So I found a 1995 Mercedes S500! V8 and all the features you could imagine. Does it have the sportiness of the 9-5? Absolutely not but the word “sportiness” is not mentioned once in the original sales brochure. It it what it is and proud of it. Another tipp for a car aficionado is to buy a car that has hit rock bottom on the status scale. The S500 fills that criteria with margin. The trick is to find the right example… Well taken care of you could even make a buck or two after enjoying it.

    1. It’s an interesting thought, Predrag, even if a little bit evil. How the hell you can afford to fill the fuel tank in Sweden is beyond me. Catch you soon.

      1. I ask myself the very same question every single time I’m at the pump; but I manage to find solice in the idea that over 70% of my gas budget is reinvested in the people of Sweden. Maybe some of it actually pays for something useful.

  10. I’ve enjoyed driving the Ford Focuses I rented in Europe. With a manual transmission it was an engaging-enough car.

    Here’s a suggestion, though — put the wife in the reliable daily driver, and drive the 9000 CS yourself. If it’s an automatic, sell it and get a manual transmission 9-3 of some kind (or 9-5 wagon). If there’s always going to be one Saab in the family, you should be the one driving it.

    I know it’s probably outside of your criteria, both emotionally and cost-wise, but the new 9-5 is *freaking awesome*. In the U.S. at least the clearance prices on these cars are simply unreal. I’ve seen one new 9-5, manual FWD, for $27k.

    Don’t let sadness at what could have been dull your joy for the beauty of present. Saabs are still great cars.

    1. Hey Greg,

      The 9000 is indeed an auto but it’s not worth selling. They go for peanuts here. It’s worth more to us as a keeper than it would be to anyone else and I get to drive it a lot so it’s not like I’m completely out of Saab experiences. When/If it croaks then I see a 9-5 Aero Kombi in our future, but not until then. New 9-5’s, even with clearance prices, are still going at over $50K here in Oz, which is territory I don’t think I’ll ever get into with a vehicle purchase.

  11. I keep having these mini-encounters with Porsche. It’s either someone is playing a cruel trick on me, or I am subconsciously seeking one. Another car that lets its presence known to me is, of all things, the latest Ford Transit.
    The requirements list for the next car is quite short, narrow, and includes RWD as a must. …but something within is wanting to allow the Transit into the selction pool.
    I’m in no hurry to let the Viggen go, so I’m enjoying this little game every day, during my commute – almost like a one-man “slug-bug” game; The brown Transit with the gold UPS logo gets the most points.

  12. I had to give up the idea of getting the new 9-5 Sport Wagon and have ordered a new Audi A6 avant instead. I think Audi is the closest of the german brands to delivering the key SAAB values I have enjoyed for years, with less character.

    However in the used market pretty much any SAAB will absolutely beat a comparibly priced Audi in all aspects, you get a newer sportier higher performance/spec car thats more reliable for your budget.

    A SAAB 9-5 Aero Wagon from 2001 with a 5 speed offers the most luxury, performance, safety, reliabillity and character I can imagine for a reasonable cost.

    Another crazier thought is to bid for one of the Museum cars that a collector might not think about and thus could be purchase for reasonable money. What about the: VM367 Saab 9-3 SC “4-Miljonte” Blue 2006 or VM411 Saab 9000 CD Vit/Svart 1992 or VM417 Saab 9000 Aero Röd 1996 or VM457 Saab 9-5 Aero Kombi Svart 2002. I might be completly wrong on that point and transportation costs to Tasmania might make it not work at all.

  13. Interesting question…

    For 7K US, my choice here would be easy: A 4dr Ford Focus SVT. Were any hotted Focus hatches (SVT, ST, etc) available in Australia? Power, handling, refinement, balance, reliability, and utility. Very Saabish. Also, what are used ’04-ish Mazda 6 hatches going for there right now? Some may laugh also, but what about a used Chrysler PT Cruiser Turbo? My parents manual trans model has been bulletproof reliable, it’s quick enough, and it’s fun in a slow-car-flogged-hard kind of way.

    As a very ex-BMW owner, pleeeaasse stay away from the BMW. I had as much of “German Reliability” as my wallet could stand and was on a first name basis with my BMW service technician. Same for an ex-girlfriend’s MB. I’m oh so done with them…

    My father owned an Integra of the vintage you’re looking at, and that’s certainly worthy of consideration. Great handling.

  14. Steve,
    Congratulations on your new position. Back to the Education Dept?
    You mention having only one Saab in the family , but I’m sure a 9-5 Aero wagon would fit the bill. Early models cost under $7k, but make sure they have a good service record, and to be on the safe side drop the sump etc.
    Drove up to Batemans Bay and returned via Canberra and the Hume without missing a beat.
    All thebest for 2012.

  15. This question : what car after Saab? is in my mind since june 2011… I have looked and tested many. Until now, the conclusion to where I stand is that I am not ready to move on another brand because I did not get the money till 2011 ot get a top range Saab model. So I decided to get a TurboX with a low mileage and I am working on it. Otherwise I would buy a “Dame Edna” Aero. New 9-5 is too risky now.
    If I really have to moove on for another brand and a low price, I could go to Alfa Brera with V6 petrol engine or a 156 Wagon. I would be pleased with an old Jag too. I like the new Serie5 BMW but too expensive.

    Porsche does not fit to the image (image is something when it comes to cars whatever we pretend about it) I want to give.

    There are many cars I would like to drive for one week, but for many years, I am still lost with the Saab virus. Quite unfortunately. I would need a brand that has a “soul”. Jaguar has this but the cars are a bit to luxuous and not enough simple in a way.

    Fiat 500 Abarth would definitily be fun for city car. The exhaust sound is close to the Saab 900 🙂

    While I am french living in France I cannot find a french car that suits me even if we have sometimes good chassis.

    If I could afford them I would be interested by the Alfa Brera, the Fiat 500 Abarth, the BMW serie5NG, the BMW serie1 OG or an old Jag to 2000.

  16. My 2008 9-3 SS now has 39,500 miles on it and my wife’s 2009 9-3 XWD has 15,000 miles. I’ll be keeping both. If you like classic Saabs, then you need a 900.

    Just a thought.

  17. I don’t know Swade, I was in a similar position wanting sportiness and needing roominess on a (relatively) tight budget to replace a much loved 1999 9-3 SE. For me there was only one option that fit the bill, so I just took possession of an 80K km 2007 9-3 Combi Anniversary Edition. Got luxury on top of my other criteria and paid C$10,500, not too far removed from your stated budget. I can certainly understand your wanting to move on and to get into something different (one of the charms of owning a Saab is having something different, isn’t it?), but unless the used Saab market in Oz is much different than in Canada, you can’t do much better than that. After all, Turbo is greater than No Turbo…

  18. I have been thinking the same thing. What next? I bought my 07 9-3 convertible new and recently got an extended warranty so l would have nothing to worry about for two more years, hoping to buy time until l could get the new 9-3 convertible J C had been working on. Still a possibility (fingers crossed.) With no SAAB, very few new cars in the US appeal to me. The new Fiat 500 Abarth? Subaru BRZ? Or maybe an early 90’s MB 300CE convertible or late 80’s 560 SL? An Audi? No BMW, no Mini, AND NO GM!  I am just glad l am not faced with needing to buy another car right now. I do not want to be without a SAAB.

  19. I worked at a Honda dealership in the early 90’s and enjoyed the turbo like kick of the VTEC engines. I don’t know if there are still like that, but a Prelude sounds like a fun and reliable car to drive. As for the fun car, I wouldn’t be surprised if you ended up with a Porsche 944.

  20. hello swade,

    i´m a european an i don´t know the situation in australia.
    for me there are only landrover, jaguar and volvo alternatives to a saab.
    a uses saab is for my opinion the best choice

    so i wish you the best – and i hope, that a new saab will need you!

    marcus

  21. Renault Clio. LOTS of fun and great second hand value. Gokart on garlic. Also consider the Laguna. 5 door hatch with great features. Looks decent now and has that certain cachet…

  22. Hi Swade,

    sorry.. but i’ll just give my opinion. You love Saab… and put so much energy in everything about Saab. Ok. Now is the next chapter in your life. BUT
    why you don’t start enjoying the Saab as a Saab.. as a good.. nice… charismatic car. Just buy a Saab. enjoy… then buy another one…
    You write about this so many years…

    best regars

  23. Swadey,

    I have been grappling with a similar issue as Mrs Saabill continually gives me the green light to buy myself a convertible to celebrate mid-life in style.

    The provisos are an auto box so dearest wifey can drive it very infrequently (?) and a back seat for Bubba Bill to tag along. I require a reasonable degree of poke when the right hoof is applied, and a bit of personality from the car. Good looks are nice too (in the car).

    So I am struggling to find anything better and better value than a 9-3 Aero, particularly where prices are headed now. I accept that the family ’07 9-3 SS is now worth less than a Hyundai of the same age but it is still a good drive and worth flogging to death. The cabs should do better long term anyway.

    I share your love of 944’s but always worry when I read in the ads ‘just had $7000 spent on engine/gearbox’ or similar. Mini appeals to me but still does not quite run the flag up my pole.

    As usual, not even $0.02 from me!

    Cheers

  24. Swade, I must say it’s rather heartbreaking to hear you talk of “Moving on”. You have been such a motivator for Saab for so many years, i don’t see how you can just pack up and move away. On the flip side, I never walked in your shoes to know all of the heartbreak you experienced. As friends, I want you to do whats best for you and your needs and support you always.

    Now go out and buy a dang 9-3 Combi and join the cooler than cool crowd.
    Good luck and remember, the garage door is always open for you here in PA.

  25. When I turned my ’08 9-5 SC in off lease in December of ’09…had to find something that would give me as much pleasure as my SAAB. Ended up with an Audi A5 coupe. It is a great car to drive…just as much fun as my ’90 SPGs…which I still drive regularly.

    Too many BMW 3-series around for my taste…and wanted a car with a manual trans & AWD. There aren’t many makes here in the US that offer a manual trans with AWD, so and I ended up with the Audi. Just couldn’t bring myself to lease another SAAB, what with all the uncertainty…and besides…leases on new SAABs weren’t available then anyway.

    Might want to take a look at an early 2ooo’s Quattro, if they fall into your price range in Oz. Most of them have folding rear seats, which would give you some “utility”.

    But of course…a used SAAB SC of either model would be a good choice…IF…spares are easily available.

    Good luck! 🙂

  26. Say it isn’t so!!! How can Swade, synonomous with Saab, consider anything else? You’re an icon, a figurehead and in many ways heve been our spiritual leader. I get moving on with your career and your life, why cars? Whatever you do, just hold onto your Saab spirit. The same one you’ve instilled in so many that continues to flicker around the world

  27. OK, so if you need to jump ship, try a 2.3 Mazda 3 Hatch. Closest to European Japanese car on the market. Not much bad can be said except potential rust later in life

  28. 12/19/2011 – V.M. throws in the towel
    12/20/2011 – Saab NA cancels my new car’s warranty
    01/13/2012 – Receivers announce Saab museum will be sold off

    Swade, I guess I can understand why you need a break from Saab!

  29. Read your piece and as allways started to evaluate the market. Gregs note on prices in the US brought me (on the web) to dealers asking for less then 26-30k USD for 9-4x’s. How is this possible? Can I import one?
    Good luck in finding your next car! I’m glad to read you independent again even if I enjoyed your companytime.

  30. My recommendation would be an Alfa 156 Sportwagon. Pretty reliable and if not a true load lugger, at least there is room for carrying things when you need it.
    Great to drive and if you need a diesel ( I know, Alfa and diesel seems wrong but they did partly develop the engine with Saab) then the 1.9 multi jet is a really fine engine with plenty to offer. If you don’t need a diesel then any of the petrol engines are sweet.
    An Alfa GT might suit if you could live with a coupe. The back is a hatch after all so there is a certain amount of felxibility there. It is based on the 156 too so a tried and tested model for sure.

    Griffin Up! Cuore Sportivo!

  31. I don’t have much experience with some of the cars you mentioned, Swade, but like James in DC above, the first new car I ever bought was an ’89 Acura Integra 5-speed (the other candidate at that time was a VW Passat wagon). I drove it for 11 years and put 160,000 miles on it before it was totaled by an SUV in a parking lot accident. It was pretty reliable, just needing a new clutch at around 120,000 miles and other normal wear and tear items. (If you end up getting one with a sunroof, though, make sure you periodically use compressed air to blow out the drain holes at the front part of the sunroof opening. They can get clogged periodically and then you have water pooling up around the sunroof when closed that runs into the cabin.)

    It was fun to drive, the hatch cargo capacity is good (not as good as a 900/9-3 hatch, but good), and if you get one in good shape, it is a good daily driver.

    Having said that, it is not as fun to drive as a turbo 9-3 hatch, the seats are not as comfortable as the 9-3,….I guess what I am saying is I liked the Integra just fine, but I have enjoyed my 9-3 even more.

  32. Not having to worry about icy roads you could go for a Bimmer and see what’s so hot about them for yourself. The only problem is knowing you look like a complete d-bag every time you sit behind the wheel 😉

    If you have a long drive to work a Saab with comfy seats with 205×55-16 tires is honestly the only way to go. For short commutes maybe a Porsche with active suspension. No Japanese cars unless you want to bore yourself to death and destroy your back in the process.

  33. Steven,

    I have been trying to figure out the same thing even without the 7K limit. My 2003 9-5 SW has 168K on it and my wife’s 9-3-ss about 140K. I also have my toy, thr 900 vert which you saw last year when you were here.

    My son didn’t want a Saab (don’t worry he has already been disowned 🙂 ) so we got him a used VW Jetta. Nice car,not Japaneses feel, with a little bit of spirit, but not a Saab.

    If I have to replace mine with new, I will probably end up going Audi as that seems to be the closest in the US to the Saab feel. However, all that being said I am still hoping that I will be able to buy a new 9-3 from the resurrected Saab corporation.

    I think with resales the way they are, a slightly used Saab Wagon may still be the way to go for you

    Good Luck!

  34. Stephen, I’m curious as to what adventures awaits you post-Saab. Still I am hopeful that Saab may be saved despite all of the evidence to the contrary, and that you will be offered not only your old job back but perhaps a more outreaching customer support center. But anyways, will you be updating your avid readers on what your next job will be?

    Still hard to cope with the thought of not reading your words about Saab, and waiting for information about the people and departments within Saab. Surreal !

    But you’re an interesting guy and you have a talent and a nack for writing and arguing for your sake. May you find something interesting to make news about…Volvo would be my suggestion for the next best thing…

    And Volvo are great cars too with interesting new models in the pipeline, even though I am sure they cannot compare to Saabs new products. Which we may yet get to see and buy in the future. The Volvo V70, or even V50, are great cars within your price range.

  35. Steven,

    So far no one has mentioned the Mazda5 Sport. I think it fulfills your driving/cargo requirements but I don’t know what used ones are going for in Oz (or if it’s even sold there). Might be worth checking out. A good friend of mine loves his and even my wife (who ordinarily hates minivans) was impressed by it.

    For some reason I thought you had moved the family to Melbourne, but it sounds like you are still in Hobart? Regardless, I wish you well and hope to meet you in person someday. Let me know if you’re planning to come through Charlotte, NC, in the future.

  36. Hi Swade,

    I’m in a very simillar situation. In a few hours I will sign a contract for a new job and have to choose a car. There is different budget to yours and I need a combi, but brand is the topic. Europe here, Slovakia, btw. we’ve met us in Trollhattan at SU Oktoberfest.

    Alternatives were :
    Volvo – 10 years of good experience (V40 T4, S60 T5)
    Mazda – 3 and 5 is long term in first positions of the TÜV reliability charts and nice
    BMW – because I like them and these are drivers cars

    I will go back to Volvo, good experience counts.

    In your case I would very recommend V or S40 T4. In the 10 years I had V40 T4 it 1) never let me down on the road (sold it @ 120.000km for 4500 €), 2) had 200hp and was pretty alive and kickin’ and 3) it had a soul and potential to enchant you even as a Saab guy. There is a V40 T4 facebook group for some browsing. Test drive needed. S60 T5 (~250hp) was also excellent, but had from inside a bit less charisma.

    Good luck in your choice.

    I’ll keep my 9-3 conv as long as it gets.

  37. The 159 has a Saab-developed platform….

    Other than that, I heard that Bristol drivers also say that after a Bristol, everything else feels wrong. So, maybe an alternative to Saab;-)))

    Now really, there is no reason for switching brand, just because of a little bancrupty (if its not YOUR bancrupty).

  38. I guess I keep on running both 9-3 1st gen en 9-5 dame edna sportwagon.
    But what if…
    Well time might be allright to split up the sporty aspirations and the more down to earth practical familycar needs. So maybe time for the long awaited Caterham or Lotus on the one (radical) hand and euh … on the other hand it is more tricky to make a adequate choice. But here we go: Both in terms of clean hi-tech and rather unspoilt design there popups the Toyota Prius+ (or V, called in the states – aka the 7-esats wagon in Europe, altough I would hesitate to use the last seating row, putting your precious in the deformation zone of the car). The car has some quirkiness and lots of anvantgarde appeal. On the horizon is also the large Citroën C6, pure refinement and understatement. Somewhere occurs the DS5 (maybe in diesel-hybrid version), rather specatular in terms of visual design and full of Citroën-mojo, but I guess less timeless then the C6.
    But what about reliabity and strenght beyond the *****-euroncap with those cars ? What when crashing those cars with speeds much higher than at testing surroundings ? Turning to ovlov or even somthing form the german triumvirate perphaps ? Rather boring.
    What might force a turn selling the 1st gen 9-3 will be the taxes, CO2-emmissions ar rather high from 2012. So looking for a very recent saab instead ? The very recent 9-3 TTiD sportshatch with 118 g/km CO2 comes to my mind …
    Again a car for both sides of the mind and a reason to postpone the Caterham/Lotus-idea ?

  39. – Saab convertible – plenty of head room if the sun is shining 😉
    – Or something completely different to a Saab (pickup truck? Scooby Brat/Brumby?)

    When I was looking for a car for the 3rd time in ’09, having had 2 dame-edna’s written off in 4 months ;( I felt that if it wasn’t a Saab it had to be completely different. Prius. Civic. Jazz. Hyundai. Finally went for a ’06 9-3 SC TiD which we like v.much, and has proved quite practical.

  40. Swade: Keep the faith. SAAB forever!
    My wife and I have owned and driven SAAB’s since March of 1960, have lost track of how many…
    Please avoid any Japanese–too vanilla. MB and BMW will bankrupt for maintenance (just rumors), not personal experience.
    Many years ago, when Renault built the “12”, which resembled the profile of a SAAB 99 or 900, I bought one feeling the pinch of inflation of SAAB prices. Sold it in less than a year. Good car for what it was, but NOT a SAAB.
    Please do not buy something to replicate what SAABs have done for you–no GM obviously.
    If I were in your shoes—how about a good used Ute built by
    Ford? If the back part gets rusty, put on one of those flat decks which are popular in your part of the world. (Can’t remember what you call those truck beds)
    Good luck, Evan

  41. I’ve done that mental exercise in 2005 and during the autumn. Heres what I came ut with.

    I think I have the money to get what I like, so what what would I like to see in a daily driver?

    1) Good passive safety. My kids need me.
    2) Active safety and handling. RWD goes due to safety here in Sweden.
    3) Good seats. And I just don’t mean acceptable, the seats need to be of the kind that you can sit in for hours without feeling any need to take a break.
    4) Nice looking dash, I have at one time returned a rental due to dull dash (Skoda). You want to have a smile on your face when you look at it, right?
    5) Reliability. Not fun to have to worry about that, however, this point is probably something I can compromise on.
    6) Some cargo capacity, means no Sedan.

    Having a lot of gizmos can never compensate for lack of the above.

    My Saab og9-5 (and my kids 9000) fullfills all criterias quite well in my mind, the only thing lacking is ESP on our cars. (But the 9000 needs it less than the 9-5 in my mind).

    I also drive rentals at work fairly regular, and I usually just long for getting back in my own car.

    So, my net result? Some Volvos are good except for the dash, every other new car on the market fails miserably on at least 2 of the above criterias.

    For the moment, if my car would have to be replaced in the forseeable future, I would be in the market for a pre-Dame Edna9-5. Unless I find a really awesome 9000… (9-3 are ok, but I like the space.)

    My son has decided that what he wants as his next car is a newer 9000, he really prefers driving that to my og9-5.

    If you monitor prices in Sweden, it seem like we’re not the only ones thinking this way.. The supply of good used pre-2006 Saabs seems to be drying up, and prices are not falling any more.
    2) Nice looking

  42. I´d still buy a 2nd hand 2004-05 SAAB 9-5 Aero Wagon with all the toys. Should be good for many more years to come. New 9-5 is too risky, 9-3 SS has GMish interior quality, and 9000 is a lil too old now.

  43. What fun to read. I’m on my 7th SAAB and it’s at 110,000 miles. I’ve purchased most of them as new over the years, culminating in a Cabriolet before GM screwed them up. During my divorce from wife and money, it was totaled one evening while in a parking lot. (An accident from the street tumbled in. Not a good few years.) I bought a 2004 9-3 in 07 and I wanted to write it off on my taxes as a medical expense— it felt so good, and good to be me again. Yeah, it’s a tad GM’d. It has died a few times and cost me dearly to resurrect but worth every penny. I bought a Tiguan during a 3-month intermittent diagnostic/repair period when I just needed a car. At least it seems tight… and it’s no SAAB.

    Soon I can see that I’ll need to get something new. Funny, I searched “what to buy now that SAAB is gone” and google gave me this page. I’m no better off in recognizing my next car, but it’s nice to read the obituaries. I had 2 Volvos and the newer one sucked horribly. I had a Range Rover which amazingly sucked worse. Jaguar has too much chrome and it’s from the same town as RR. Alfa is too much $$, Fiat is too small. BMW is too boring. I don’t like Japanese steel. Being in the US, I can’t get Renault. I’m thinking Audi.

    1. Bob, you’ll find plenty of people who’ll agree with your choice if you go with an Audi.

      Me? I’ll just leave you with a quote from one of my favourite motoring satirists, the venerable Richard Porter from Sniff Petrol:

      Audi has revealed that the its new A4’s remarkable 0.23 drag coefficient comes from being simply too boring for air to bother with.

      If you’ve still got the Tiguan for regular duties and you’re looking for something fun to complement it, check out the brand new Mazda MX5.

      1. Thanks for the tip. I have already been looking at Mazda and Subaru for my daughter, a true SAAB fan and recent RN. She’s old enough to remember the fun we had, and was in line to inherit that Cabriolet when she turned 16— if that sort had ended earlier.

        Truth be told, as my new wife are a 2 car family (hard to go back to one once the 9-3 was fixed), a true sports car and a utilitarian vehicle make sense. The Mazda looks nice, so thanks for the tip. The Miata never seemed to garner much love here in the US — sort of a poor mans 911— a very poor man. I guess that’s me. But neither did the SAAB, except those few yuppie years when every douche had one. The Audi I was considering was the A3 Cab or A5 coupe. It will boil down to a test drive and interior cockpit. Thanks for your time, and I’ll keep you posted, as well as a desire to hear more from you. (Maybe I’ll leave the Audi purchase to replace the Tiguan with a Q3 or 5…)

  44. Forgot to ask about the snow-eating abilities of any of my options. That was always a huge SAAB factor for me in the US Midwest— although the 900 Cab I had was a serious snow plow, I ripped off many a low-hanging fog light.

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