Last post on Mar 09, 2013 at 7:46 PM
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Saab 9-3, Sedan
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#385 of 3342 Review of 9-3 Two Days After Delivery
Nov 17, 2002 (2:32 pm)
I picked up my new Laser Red 2003 9-3 Friday afternoon. Vehicle is equipped with Launch, Touring Package, heated (grey leather) seats and 16 in. wheels. As all reviews are somewhat subjective, FYI, my point of reference is my prior vehicle, a 1999 Audi A-4 2.8L 6Cyl Quattro.
First impression upon seeing car waiting for me at dealership is that the 9-3 in Laser Red really kicks Butt! What a great looking car!
I was so excited about this car that I had trouble sleeping Friday night(and I'm not a kid anymore, I'm 47 years old!).
Anyway, after running around in the rain all weekend, here are my first impressions:
Fit and finish on exterior is excellent. Vehicle seems to be well engineered and put together. Fit and finish on interior is also excellent, though not quite up to Audi standards. Although I'm certainly not disappointed, there are a few minor "nits". I wish there were more "soft touch" surfaces, such as top of dash, etc. These are currently made out of a hard plastic material. To the right of the parking brake lever, there is an odd plastic cover that can be removed and replaced if you purchase an optional CD or cup holder. This particular piece seems cheap. Overall though, interior is a nice place to be. Dash layout is very cool and aircraft-like. Guages are well laid out, clear and readable. They glow a soft green, much better than the Audi's red.
The "Infotainment" center (stereo) is not really bad at all. Even though there have been a number of complaints on this board, I'd rate it less than great, but certainly not bad. All the bass is generated up front. The rear speakers in the rear deck are small and produce no bass. Overall, the sound is good. I have no great urge to upgrade it. It's not quite up to the Audi's system, but not that far behind either. Plus, it does more, such as traffic reports, integration with On Star, etc.
The seats are far superior to the German seats. You tend to sit "on" the Audi seats, whereas the Saab seats seem to embrace you. They are great.
The 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engine is unbelievable. This motor produces a lot of low end torque and seems to be willing to rev as high as you're willing to go. This engine is smooth as silk and very quiet. Until you get used to the clutch, turn the stereo off! Honda is always cited for their eerily smooth "sewing machine-like" engines, but I'd put this engine up against the best they have to offer any day. This is a great engine. I think it's better than the 6 in the Audi and seems to have more low end urge and better gas mileage to boot. This car is faster than the Audi (and the Audi has a 5 cylinder).
The handling of this car is excellent. Again, I really think it outhandles the Audi. It seems to be more nimble and it corners flatter. (This with the 16-in wheels...don't waste your money on the 17's, particularly if you live where there is snow...)
The 5 speed manual is an excellent trans. It shifts smoothly and surely. Clutch takeup is progressive and among the best I've driven.
So far, there have been no surprises or glitches to ruin my new-car fun. The only negative has been the fact that the extra remote (Saab-speak for "key") is missing the Saab emblem. Dealer promised to make good...The only other oddities are that the dealer is not sure about the service intervals, as the vehicle incorporates algorythms to tell you when it is due. But, they were clear about the 30 day service where they check a bunch of stuff. Saab recommends 0-W -30 oil, which I found strange, never having heard of it before this car. They recommend 90 octane gas.
So, overall, I'm still ecstatic about this car and would recommend it to anyone wanting a sport sedan. I think this is a great value.
Well, I'm glad that Edmunds doesn't limit space on these posts, as I surely have used up my fair share. I'll be checking back to see what you all think, and I'll post an update after I have some more experience under my belt.
---*** Mooselook ***---
#386 of 3342 Correction - Review of 9-3 by Mooselook
Nov 17, 2002 (2:36 pm)
Audi has a 6 cylinder, not a 5. The "5" key is a little too close to the "6" key!!
Nov 17, 2002 (2:57 pm)
Also, the Saab has 2.2 four-cylinder, not a 2.0... but that's a small error
Nov 17, 2002 (8:38 pm)
Congrats on the new wheels. Sounds like you are happy with your car.
Keep up updated, it's much appreciated.
Nov 18, 2002 (12:22 am)
Isn't it 1988 cc (121 cu in)?
Which is the same as recent model 2.0 liter engines. Based on the 1985 cc engine that debuted in 1972, maybe?
I've only seen one report (velocity journal) of it being 2171 cc (and I'm pretty sure they are wrong).
Nov 18, 2002 (12:28 am)
For all you owners,
How does the car feel and handle on gravel roads?
My 2001 is decent, the steering feedback gets interesting when going 50 mph in gravel. I feel that rear end wants to swing around on you at any moment. Odd because I haven't felt it in other fwd cars (with less steering feedback) until a bit faster. By no means a rallye car.
#391 of 3342 G35 vs. 9-3 and other stuff
Nov 18, 2002 (7:15 am)
Just test drove (again) the G35 and the Saab...these are two cars that on paper easily lead you to the G35. But, the reason I test drove these two twice, and nearly 30 days apart, is that it allowed me to get a feeling for what car you will want to live with. The first look and drive are always exciting and you end up wanting to buy the car you just drove. Don't do it if you can, and take a step back. I was nearly ready to order the G35 with a 6 speed when the back to back drives made it clear that the Saab will be my choice (albeit the ARC/Vector when introduced in March-According the the Dealer). Infiniti -while fast as hell and fun to drive-does not have any "soul". The interior is nothing special and you do not feel any attachment to the car (emotional that is) when driving. Physically it is great - and looks good from the outside..but when inside you feel as though you are in a high end (at the time) 1995 Japanese sedan.
The Saab, on the other hand, I noticed after spending more time in it..you actually want to spend more time in it. You wear this car like a fine tailored suit. Similar feel to my old Audi A4 and current Audi A6 Turbo. No the interior is not as high quality as the Audi's, but its pretty close and SEVERAL notches above the G35. Plus the cockpit style dash is great without being as overpowering as it is in the 9-5. It is also full of the latest 2003 technology - its all around you. Maybe you won't use much of it, but if I am buying a new car I want the very latest tech - BMW and Audi are great at providing this..Infinity falls way short (there was not even a simple trip computer). I also drove the new Audi A4 and while a wonderful car, is simply a smaller version of the A6 I currently drive (the A6 came out first and then new A4 is a mirror image inside and out but on a reduced scale.) So while a great car - nothing new there to excite (the 3.0 is also several thow more than the 9-3, the 1.8t can't compete in performace)
The other thing I will do, when it comes time to buy..is call the internet sales guy and conduct the trasaction over the phone. When I went in to look at the 9-3, the Saab dealer tried desperately to sell me a Saab 9-5 Aero - to the point of telling me that the new 9-3 "made him cry" when it came out. He also said it was a dresssed up Honda and not worth the money and that the 9-5 is the only true Saab, and that the 9-3 felt as though it would snap in half when hit (this was during the test drive!). This guy should be fired. Joke. I drove the 9-5 at his beckoning and while fast, I can see why it always finishes in the middle of the pack against the competition. It's that type of car. Very good - not great.
Oh, I did learn that because of the On-star scew up on the 9-3, they will be giving two years for free plus 200 minuets vs. one year when it becomes available.
OK, one last point..besides the on-star thing noted above - ever notice that no matter what car you are buying--you always seem to know alot more about it than the salesman? Maybe they should visit their own web-site every now and again.
Nov 18, 2002 (8:33 am)
The new 9-3 has a 2.2, I don't know about the current one.
Nov 18, 2002 (8:51 am)
That salesperson is a joke! The new 9-3 is clearly going to steal sales from the 9-5.
Most likely GM and the dealership have given the salespeople all sorts of incentives to move the 9-5. The 9-3 is selling itself, so the salesperson won't get anything over the basic commission.
The fleet salespeople have to get on the phone and move the 9-5s en masse to the corporate buyers and the rental agencies. Until the new 9-5 comes out, the only 9-5 that will sell in any numbers to individual buyers will be the wagon.
In the meantime, the salesperson better get used to the fact that a lot of people think the new 9-3 is what Saab is all about.