I’m buying a car at the end of this week and I’m choosing from three attractive options. The first option is an Alfa Romeo GTV6. Time to look over option #2: a Saab 9-3 Viggen.
SAAB 9-3 VIGGEN
- My second-favourite Saab of all time, after the 99Turbo
- Unique paint and interior scheme. Beautiful to look at and sit in
- Wonderful performance – once you get the chassis sorted
- Been there, done that.
- Wonderful performance – once you get the chassis sorted.
Most people reading this will know that I’ve owned a Viggen once before. I bought one in 2005 and enjoyed two great years with it until I crashed it in 2007 at a driver training day. The Viggen taught me a heck of a lot about owning a performance-driven Saab 9-3, knowledge that I put to use when I bought a Monte Carlo a year or so later.
I missed my old one so much that I tried to make that Monte Carlo into a Viggen. I sorted the suspension, upgraded the ECU and the wheels. I even put a carbon-fibre interior into it, just like the one the Australian Viggens came with.
It didn’t work. Bottom line, no matter what you try and do, there’s nothing quite like the real thing. That B235R engine just has such wonderful character. My Monte made more power than a stock Viggen but it was never as satisfying to drive.
The Viggen was an under-engineered car, but it still had a wonderful combination of acceleration and braking power as standard. The downside (common to all 9-3 performance applications) was that if you really wanted to explore the engine’s limits, you really needed to spend some money on upgrading the chassis so that it could put the power to the ground. Steering rack clamp, dampers, various braces of increasing complexity and cost.
The end result is truly wonderful. It just takes a little while (and a reasonably open wallet) to get there.
This would be a no-brainer for me. I’d love to have a Viggen again, but the word ‘again’ is one that I’m not sure I’m ready for just yet. I’ve had 9-3s of this generation for 4 or 5 of the last 7 years. I’m not sure I want another one right now. Added to that, whilst I’m a Saab enthusiast first and foremost, I also have other interests. I’d absolutely love to get a Viggen eventually but I’m not sure I want one for my next car, or even my next Saab. I’ve always liked the idea of getting a 9-5 Aero Wagon into the family garage one day, most likely when our 9000 needs to be replaced.
The Viggen is available and it looks like a good one. It makes so much sense to get it and there’s a fair chance that I will. But a few other things keeps tugging at my shirtsleeve – that Alfa from yesterday, for one, and another car I’ll show you tomorrow.