Not long since last writing about it, but certainly a long time since first wanting to, I have finally driven a Saab!
The Swede-mobile in question was a sporty little 2008 9-3 Aero XWD (stands for “cross wheel drive” which is Saab Marketing speak for “all wheel drive”). This tasty morsel was a dark gray on black leather/hard plastic interior and was powered by a 280hp 2.8L turbo V6 putting motion to all four wheels via a 6-speed automatic. Bork, indeed.
How was it to drive? Well, I really liked it. It was fast, handled pretty well in a corner (and on a roundabout) and was comfortable. I didn’t even mind the minimalist interior, plastic trim or pretentious console ignition (Saabs are different, you know). In fact, you can look past a lot of flaws when you’re behind the wheel of a car that’s fun to drive.
I can’t say how it compared to a similar year 3-Series or A4 (the 9-3’s supposed competitors). The only BMW’s I have driven are from earlier years and I’m fairly certain I have never driven an Audi on the road (However, I did park several back in my funeral home days).
The most amazing part about the car was how different it felt from its siblings. I have driven a Malibu, a G6 and an Aura, all of which are based on GM's Epsilon platform. None of them had the same solid, button down feel as the Saab... nor the handling prowess. Nothing against the other cars, their just a little bit vanilla. The Saab is vanilla with chocolate swirls and mini rolo pieces in it. Now I want ice cream.
The only issues I had with it were the lack of backseat leg room and the mushy brake peddle... of course the fact that the car was 5 years old may have been a factor in that. I was also not very impressed with the wear I noticed on the gear selector... especially since the car was an automatic and only 29,xxx kilometers on it.
But wait, could it be the fact that GM owned it at the time and had infused the interior trim with low quality materials? Well, no. I have a 2009 Pontiac G5 with 185,000 km on it and the leather on that looks great still. And that’s in a car that cost half what the 9-3 did. So don’t blame the general.
Of course, there is the possibility that the leather in the 9-3 is more “real” than the leather in my G5 and therefore more susceptible to the natural patina that occurs in non-synthetic materials. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
I was also sad about the small cup holders. At first I was sad because I wouldn’t be able to fit a proper slurpee cup in one. Then I was sad because I realized I had a slurpee addiction... which made me want a slurpee (The cycle continues).
Long story short, all I had to gripe about the car is a slightly worn trim piece and smallish cup holders – which are petty grievances to say the least. Backseat room was still more generous than my current car and the brake pedal could probably be fixed. Had I a spare 19 grand on hand I would have bought it on the spot. It was a fun car, entertaining and has lower insurance costs than a comparable Audi or BMW. Chalk that down as a win for Sweden... 5 years ago and (by just about all measures) posthumously.
Ok, I promise that unless there is significant news I will not discuss Saab again for a while. That horse is officially flogged.