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Saab 9-3 Sedan



  • Someone asked what 9-3 are going for. I got a pretty good deal on mine. Just got it 2-days ago. Never had a Saab before, and while this car isn't as "oddball" as the old Saabs, it takes some getting used to (especially the key!) But so far, I love it. Bigger than an A4 or 3-Series BMW (inside and out), and a very solid ride. It is just a very well made car. Of course, who wouldn't say that after just spending almost $30K? Heh. But seriously, so far so good.

    I couldn't find a car exactly as I wanted, but there were a bunch that were pretty close. The car I got came to the dealer with the sports wheel package which was good/bad. I like the firmer ride, but where I live it snows a lot (and the 17" tires are of no use in the winter). In fact, one of the guys at the dealership said he took out a car with 17" wheels a few days who when it was snowing a bit and that "he'll never make that mistake again." Heh.

    Anyhow, to make sure I actually bought the car, the guy swapped the 17" wheels for the 16" wheels (which I think look better anyhow) and gave me a credit for the wheel package (see below).

    By the way, I've noticed Edmunds, Cars Direct, etc. lists the wheel package for $1,127 (list) and $1,295 (MSRP)... but all the dealer invoices I've seen have it at $877 and $1,000 respectively.

    What I did was fax a bunch of local dealers saying, "Here is the exact car I want. I know there are a few of these on the ground (within a few hundred mile radius). I will come down there today, sign all the paperwork, and you'll make a $250 profit for 30 minutes of your time: 5 minutes to read this fax and 25 minutes of paperwork on the car." Most of the morons faxed me back with "come on down and lets chat" but one guy said (more or less), "You've got a deal. If you keep your word, I'll keep mine." He even faxed me what he said in writing.

    Even better, I found a bank online (Ohio Central Savings) that did 3.9% financing ( -- and they do out of state loans (I'm not in Ohio).

    OK, enough babbling... here is the deal I got. By the way, the $2,870 in rebates consists of a $1,000 "alternative financing" since I didn't use GMAC or Saab Credit (even though I got the same 3.9% rate they would have offered), a $1,000 rebate on the launch package, and $877 for swapping the wheels to 16" (all season) from 17" (summer only).

    Total MSRP of the car was $32,085. I paid $26,580 before tax and license. Plus, I didn't get charged any fake "prep" or "advertising" fees. I've seen a few Saab 9-3 invoices (from different parts of the USA), and where I live they don't have those on the dealer invoice, but I saw a few invoices from the East cost, and they have like $600+ in fake charges.

    Here is the breakdown.

    24443 2003 Saab 9-3 Linear (Manual / Charcoal Interior)
    625 Destination Charge
    431 Front Dual Heated Bucket Seats
    413 Cosmic Blue Metallic Paint
    866 Linear Touring Package
    2258 Launch Package
    877 Wheel Package
    -2877 Rebates
    -706 Holdback Refund (2.2% MSRP)
    250 Dealer Profit
    26580 Before Tax and License

    1728 Tax Liabilities (6.5%)
    0 Dealership Preparation Fees
    0 Dealer Advertising Fees
    45 Title Costs
    341 Licensing Fees (This is normal for my state!)
    28693 After Taxes and Discounts
  • logic1logic1 Posts: 2,433
    And thanks for the detail.

    Funny to hear so many dealers trapped themselves out of a quick sale with the need to 'Chat.' Chat about what, for heaven's sake?
  • dindakdindak Posts: 6,632
    I always decide what I want long before I go in. I don't want to chat, I want a deal as fast as possible and get out.

    Our last car was bought via and e-mail. No chatting until I picked it up.
  • regfootballregfootball Posts: 2,166
    that's a good deal you got. enjoy the ride.
  • I purchased the 9-3 Linear model yesterday (love it!). As a first-time new car buyer, I have a few questions for anyone with more experience:

    1) What is your experience/recommendation with an extended warranty? The dealership was recommending "Heritage" at a rate of $2500 for 100,000 miles with a $100 deductible. Not sure if this is worth it...

    2) Any suggestions on the "paint sealant" and "leather sealant"? The company supposedly guarantees both for life of car, but my thought was that I could maintain both myself, without paying $775 to someone else. Any experience with these services?

  • logic1logic1 Posts: 2,433
    An extended warranty may help at trade-in/third party sale time. $2500.00 is a lot of money though. You should be able to get an extended warranty on your own for less. (remember -- The extended warranty most likely is not a Saab product.)

    I have never bought things like leather and paint sealant and never would. The prices for what you are getting are always a rip-off. In fact, I would be a little miffed at the salesperson for even bringing them up.
  • brucec35brucec35 Posts: 246
    Wow, sounds like you got a great deal. Here in Atlanta there is no competition (same guy owns both dealerships) and I thought I did well to get about $1500 off MSRP and the 0/0/0 financing. One of the dealers here wouldn't budge from MSRP, but I contacted the internet manager on the other side of town and he accepted my offer for about $1800 less that the other guy wanted, including fees.

    Getting the stiffer springs AND the 16" wheels/tires you wanted was a real coup, too. You basically got the suspension upgrade for free. The Dealer wins too, because he can easily sell the takeoffs to a buyer who wants the upgrade for maybe $1200. They actually offered us a set of those on a non-sport model on the lot, in fact. We opted to wait for one to come in with the sport suspension.

    FYI, the difference in the wheel/suspension upgrade package price is because Linear models do not actually come with the low tire pressure warning system they originally were supposed to. So the price on the actual cars was lowered accordingly. Edmunds is wrong on this. I wrote them a while back to let them know, but apparently they don't care enough to change their numbers. They're pretty sloppy on little things like that, making it hard sometimes to sound educated when talking to a dealer. I asked the reviewer of the 9-3 if she'd even bothered to go see the ones actually on lots, since the sticker plainly shows the price difference from their figures, and many of her criticisms centered on items Saab told her they were "fixing" before roll-out. Her reply sounded to me like they can't be bothered to actually update reviews by driving or even looking at the ACTUAL CARS that are sold on lots. Oh well, at least it's free.

    Looking at your numbers again, you got an incredible deal on a new car, although some might say that you saved a little less that the MSRP would indicate, because you didn't actually get the 17" wheels and it may be worth a little less to many buyers down the line at resale time because of that. Who knows about Saabs, but as an example a BMW 3 series with the sport package and its 17" wheels will go for about $1,000 more than a non-sport with 16" wheels. Most sport oriented drivers would pass on a car w/o them. But it's what you needed. Also, handling won't be quite as crisp as with the lower profile max grip Pirellis, either, but you'll enjoy a softer ride and much longer tire life.

    For us at least, the 0% financing was superior to the $1,000 rebate you decided to take in its place. Over only 36 months, it saves almost $2,000 over 3.9% financing, but not everybody can pay those huge payments, I understand. We also hadn't sold old vehicle yet, so the financing was fine with us.

    Also, our lazer red model saved us the $431 for metal flakes in the paint, and dealers will tell you that metallic paint usually brings about $5 in value come resale time! But you still paid an incredibly low price for a well equipped sport sedan. You also may have saved some because you chose a 5 speed model. For some reason, even with sport sedans, manuals can be hard to sell in the current marketplace. I guess it's all the traffic.

    As for holdback percentage. One source says 2%, another tells me 3%, and yours says 2.2%. I've never had so much trouble figuring the numbers on a deal as with this Saab. Talk about quirky.

    I also can't believe how many salesmen blow easy deals with their "come down and talk to me" reply to legitimate offers. Actually I can. There are a LOT of very unsavvy buyers out there that get taken to the cleaners. The key for a salesman should be to know how to tell who is and who isn't a knowledgeable buyer.
  • brucec35brucec35 Posts: 246
    Leather and paint sealer is a complete ripoff and almost valueless, despite the claims. They're also claiming a lot of baldness cures and "eat all you want if you drink this powder at night" diets too. So buyer beware.

    I've had two extended warranties on BMW's (paid for by the previous owners, hehe!) and they worked fine w/ few hassles. An extended warranty will definitely help sell a car down the line, but the question is how much more will it bring relative to its cost? Hard to say. Some buyers won't even consider one w/o it. Others seem not to care. It also depends on how long you plan to own the vehicle. You can buy an aftermarket warranty up until the time the car goes out of basic warranty, so you do not have to decide now, though the cost rises somewhat accordingly. Try and for online price quotes.

    Make sure you look for a warranty that:
    1. Is transferable to the next owner.
    2. Gives a pro-rated refund for the unused portion of the warranty if you trade it in (most won't transfer to a dealer). We sold a '98 BMW 540i last Spring and got a nice $800 check back from the warranty company on their policy that wasn't transferrable to the new owner. I read the fine print and it paid off! And we didn't even buy the policy, the previous owner did.
    3. Has a refund policy for those who never use the warranty. Believe it or not, many offer this.
    4. Compare deductible vs. no-deductible plans.
    5. Make sure they allow you to use any licensed shop you want, not just an approved list.
    6. Look for ones that accept payments from the company's credit card via phone, and not ones that simply reimburse you.
    7. Look online for complaints about the company paying claims. Not paying claims means you got a dubious bargain, so shop carefully and ask around. Try the Edmunds boards here for more info, but be sure to take the complainers with a grain of salt, they may well be plants from the competition. Look for trends...good or bad.
    8. A listed exclusions policy is superior to a named coverage one. This means you would prefer one that covers everything "except" the listed components, usually wear items. If you just want coverage for big dollar items like the driveline and want to keep your cost low initially, a named-coverage policy might be ok. But you'd be amazed at how many items can fall between the cracks of a policy like that. For example, BMW catalytic converters go for $1200 at the dealers...and our car had two! Saab is probably pricey too.
    9. Make sure your coverage includes damage from overheating, not just fixing the radiator. Some cheapo policies will refuse to cover your cracked block due to an overheated engine, for example. They'll just fix the busted hose or thermostat.
    10. Avoid buying from a dealer in most cases. Much of the price is sales commission, not coverage. They may be ok, but shop carefully.
    11. Wait a while after checking prices online before buying. They will usually send you emails with deals to entice you in after they haven't heard back from you in a few days.

    I think I got a price of about $1500-$1700 for 5 yr/100K coverage from a couple of warranty companies online when I checked on the Saab. Not bad, but remember it won't even take effect for up to 4 years, so your money is tied up for that long before you ever get any benefit from it. And check the details as well as the prices, since they vary widely in price based on how good they are.

    If you have deep pockets and can afford to pay repairs as they come, you'll probably do a little better w/o a warranty, since obviously the companies are in it to make money, not lose it paying claims that exceed their revenue. The odds are in your favor. But if you want "insurance" against catastrophe, warranties aren't a bad deal on European luxury cars.

    Oh yeah, if you want to know which warranty companies are easy to deal with, respond promptly, and pay claims well, call your local independent shop that handles Saabs. They'll be able to tell you their experience with the companies you're considering.
  • Even if I take off the $1,000 (MSRP) for not getting the wheels (but as you said, I did get indeed get the suspension) I still think I did pretty good. The dealer told me he was making a few bucks and that 10% of something was better than 100% of nothing. Funny, my dad always says that too.

    So, as much as I love my new car, I do have a few things that I'd like to hear your feedback on. There are also a few miscellaneous comments peppered in that don't really need a response.

    Some of these I don't see as problems per-se, just oddities (hey, it is Saab, they had to work hard to add oddities to this new mainstream vehicle!) I even love the little goofy plug they give you to cover up the (only) keyhole on the car since you'll never really use it!

    (1) I got the upgraded radio (face). It really doesn't give more power (still a mere 150W), but it does have the fancy looking interface. From what I see, it doesn't give do anything that the normal radio can do yet (other than look cool). Right?

    (2) On the radio, there are two features under radio settings called "regional" and "alt frequency". I flew through the radio manual (you can tell they are going to add more features to the radio because it is separate from the car manual) and saw no references to those features. Any ideas?

    (3) I'd say that the data in the marketing literature for the 9-3 is somewhat misleading. I do not think it was on purpose, but it sort of seems like they say the infotainment system has 300W, which it doesn't. The sound is good, but not great. Rumor has it that Saab will offer an upgrade from 7 speakers and 150W to 13 speakers and 300W. Is this true? Do you think they'll offer us first-year buyers a discount?

    (4) I know in Europe the 9-3s have (or are supposed to have) bluetooth. That would be nice because my new call phone has bluetooth. So, do you think that they'll (a) offer bluetooth here in the future and (b) if so, how will the infotainment system "choose" which phone (onstar vs. bluetooth phone) to use?

    (5) The (head)light control is the one thing I do not understand. Simple as it may be, there is no off. The three modes listed in the manual are headlights (all the way to the left), parking lights (middle), and off (all the way to the right). And if you look in the manual, there are some other icons on the switch that look like "I", "II", and "III". However, on my car, there is headlights (all the way to the left) which turns on all the lights (including marker lights, night lights, etc... and allows you to turn on high-beams and fog logs), parking lights (middle) which also turns on all the lights (same as above, but only allows flash-to-pass high-beams and no fog lights) and the most strange of all, off (all the way to the right) which is the same as parking lights (i.e., all lights are on, headlights, makers, etc.) That has to be a bug, right? I understand the concept of DLR, but there is a huge difference between DLR and on. If I want to sit in my car (say while my passenger runs into the post office to drop something off) I can't shut my headlights down (and people think I'm going to pull out vs. just sit there). Have you guys seen this?

    (6) I was a bit upset that the doors didn't lock and unlock automatically like they do on Audi's... but I read the dealer can reprogram the system. Problem solved.

    (7) I like that you can change the battery in the key/remote/fob (which has amazing range) with a normal battery that you can buy at the local store. Some cars have a $10 battery and a $20 service fee to change the battery. Luckily, Saab was smart about it.

    (8) As per item (5), there a green headlight and parking light indicator on the dash. If you can't turn the lights off, why even have this? It is always on.

    (9) Are Americans really so dumb that we need a "shift-up" light. There has to be a way to turn this off. It is annoying, especially when driving in night mode, because that whole LED screen turns on each time it wants you to shift.

    (10) I noticed I couldn't change 0,0 to 0.0. Most European cars let us use the decimal versus the comma. Another bug?

    (11) I love the estimated arrival time of the trip computer (where you dial in mileage). Simple but cool.

    (12) Glove box is huge! And air-conditioned. While kind of an oddball feature, I actually can see a use for it.

    (13) Homelink transmitter is great. Took me all of 2 seconds to set it up.

    (14) In some places manual says TCS and other places it says ESP for the most bottom button (in my car ESP). Typo?

    (15) I live where it snows a lot. Is a block heater worth getting?

    (16) I love how the index talks about the boot, bonnet, and tyres (UK style) but the core of the manual says trunk, hood, and tires. That made me laugh.

    (17) I ended up with the charcoal interior. The (interior) rear deck, pillars, and roof fabric are parchment. When I first saw it, I was a bit perplexed. My Audi has a charcoal interior too, but the "curtains match the drapes" as they say. After driving it for a day (and asking 10 of my friends what they thought about this subject) most people said it looks "cool". I guess cool is good. Again, this is a Saab, right? Odd is in.

    Anyhow, that is all I have to say. Overall, even with the oddities mentioned above, I'm really happy with my purchase. The ride is much better than my Audi. Strange thing is, I never actually never realized how small the A4 is on both the inside and outside. Boy or boy, is the A4 small. I'd never want anything bigger than the 9-3, it is the perfect size... plus lots of room in the trunk. Or is that boot?
  • -Has anyone taken European delivery on the Saab 9-3? Would like to hear of your experiences
  • oldsman01oldsman01 Posts: 1,203
    Sounds like you got a pretty good deal. I'm waiting in the Arc with the 210 hp engine and 300 watt sound system to become available then I'm going to seriously consider this car. As for your headlights, my Intrigue is the same way. It has the "off" "parking" and headlight" positions, but the automatic control function overides the off position so that if it gets dark outside, the lights come on anyway even if in the off position. The only way to override this on the Intrigue(other than pulling DRL fuse and thus defeating them as well) is the set the parking brake before starting the car. If you do this, the lights stay off until the brake is released as this is what turns the DRLs/auto headlights on. I'm not sure if this will work on the Saab though. I like the auto on-off feature, but I do wish they would provide an override. My father used to have an Aurora and it had a switch which would let you turn the automatic headlamp control off and also set how long of a "delay out" you wanted on the lights. Keep us posted on your experience with the 9-3.
  • For those of you who have a new linear with climate control. Can the system be turned off? I don't see an off switch.
  • I got a quote for European delivery (I got over there a lot for work) -- but there were 2 major problems.

    #1 Depending on where I pick it up and drop it off, much (well, some) of the savings associated with doing the European delivery are lost. You'd pay no fees if you pick up and drop off in Sweden, but who wants to go up there now? It is dark 23 hours a day.

    #2 The typical port-to-port-to-your-dealer delivery time (for shipments of Saab's that don't end up at the bottom of the English Channel) is about 8 weeks. That means that (a) I am making $500 per month payments on a car that I can't drive and (b) if I did not have access to another car, I would have to rent a car for 8 weeks, which is also about $500 per month.

    All in all, I am not sure if the savings after that would be anything other than a few cents. As I recall, the savings for European delivery is about $1,500 less than US invoice (yes, invoice, not MSRP).

    Also, I don’t think you get some of the rebates that you can get when buying through a dealer, but I could be wrong about that.

    If you are going to live in Europe or spend a few months there, it is a good idea. If you’re like me, and you are there for a week at a time every other month or two, it is not a good idea (IMHO).
  • If you push the small fan button (lower fan speed) a few times (one setting below low) it will turn the fan off, but leave the display (and maybe some unforced airflow) on. Push it one more time and the whole thing goes dead (off). It'll even say "AC-OFF" when you press the small fan one time after it is on low.
  • I understand what you said, but I don't think the Saab has "twilight sentinel". I drove the car in broad daylight today, parked in a sunny spot in the parking lot at the store, put the parking break on (left it running) and the headlights, parking, position, tail (night type, not break type) lights were on.

    I even took my flash light and pointed it at the sun sensor (on top of the SID) to see if there was a photocell in there. Still, the lights stayed on.
  • Here are some photos that go with my previous posts.

    Two tone interior --

    No decimal place, just a comma --

    Light switch with non-off off setting --

    Sun sensor (doesn't seem to be tied to lights, just air conditioning) --

    Headlight (read below) --

    So, after reading some of what you guys posted, I went to go look at the lights. Here is an odd thing. With the bi-Xenon headlights, it seems that the main (bring as all heck) lens is both the low beam and high beam. On most cars I've seen (like the Maxima I rented the other day while on a business trip) there is a Xenon light for the low beam, but the high beam is an old fashion halogen lamp. Doesn't seem to be this way in the 9-3.

    In fact, when I turn on the high beams, a lens or something moves (and goes over the existing low bleam?) resulting in the Xenon light being both the low and high beam.

    Oddly enough, next to the Xenon lens is what looks to be a halogen bulb, but it never comes on. Ever. I tried all three light settings in both high and low, with and without fog lights, and they never came on. There is a bulb in there, but no clue what it is for.

    Unless those are my DLRs and they never come on because my car has a bug and the lights never go off (as per previous E-mail)? Anyone?

  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,744
    Although I don't have one, here are my WAG's:

    bi-xenon are the new style lights were both low and high beams are xenon. As I understand it, Xenon's have a time delay before illumination. Under a flash to pass feature, using a xenon design for high beam would not work so previous designs used halogen bulbs for the high beams.

    It seems to me that the halogen bulb should be used for DRL's and flash to pass feature. Sounds like you do have some sort of bug.
  • Here's the deal I got:
    linear cosmic blue/ auto
    w/ launch and touring
    heated seats
    $27,500 before fees and tax. After do the math, I think my deal is similar to one of the early poster who got a stick shift (also Cosmic blue, coincidentally, my dealer told me they only got two Cosmic blue a year)I gave up a few hundred dollars on my trade-in but I still think I got a good deal. My family was considering a loaded top-of-the-line Camry but the price for that is actually not too far off from the price that I paid for the Saab. Seems like an easy decision. Just hope the reliability is not TOO bad.
  • Only 2 per year? I think he was trying to push you to buy the car/color. I've seen more than one dealer with at least two Cosmic Blue cars. =8)

    Now, if you're talking about a Cosmic Blue 9-3 with a 5-speed manual, there were only two US-spec units produced (and I have one of them). In fact, I read a press release on the Saab web site that said only seven 5-speed manual 9-3 were made (just kidding!)

    But it does seem odd that there are so few 2003 9-3's with 5-speeed manual transmissions. Most dealers I spoke with said that that their typical stock was one or two 5-speed manual transmission equipped cars, with the rest being automatics. I find that a big strange for a sports sedan.

    If you remember, when the Lexus IS300 came out it only had an automatic and people went insane about the lack of a 5-speed manual, however, this is not the case with the 9-3, which is odd.

    Personally, I like the 5-speed on the 9-3. The clutch is a nice short run, it is light, and the shift pattern is tight.

    When compared to the A4, the clutch is much lighter (you need a strong left leg for the A4), though the shifter is about the same.

    I actually think the 9-3's clutch is perfect, good weight and travel distance. Takes a bit to get used to when compared to the A4 (I'll admit, I've stalled it a few times [um, when on hills]).

    One car that drove me nuts (looking back, I can't believe I even considered it) was the Maxima SE. I got all excited about a 6-speed manual transmission with 255 HP... but the throws on the shifter were like that of a semi-tractor (long and spaced far apart) and the clutch had more travel than I've ever seen on a passenger car. That, and about 20 other things I didn't like about the Maxima SE (after renting one from Hertz for a week during a business trip). But that is a whole other thread.

    Anyhow, back on topic, at first I didn't like the Cosmic Blue, I was actually looking at Midnight blue, but after going back and looking at them side by side (in the daylight, which was something I never did before) I changed my mind. It is a very pretty color.
  • Edmunds TMV prices seem way off compared to these last two deals mentioned. TMV for cosmic blue linear manual w/ launch, touring, and heated seats is $29,939 where I am (SF bay area) compared with code7700's deal of $26,580. For auto it's $31,052 compared with zeroch's deal of $27,500. prices (which supposedly factor the rebates/incentives into account already) seem similar to Edmunds. Is there anywhere on the web with pricing more in line with what people are actually paying currently? The deals don't vary by that much ($3000+) by region.

    Also, where on Edmunds site can you find info on the $1000 discount/rebates that everyone seems to know about. I know about them just from reading boards, but they don't seem to be listed in the incentives and rebates section of Edmunds 9-3 page, so where can you go to get accurate info on the cash incentives? Are they only available in some areas? My impression was that they were national. I realize the current deal with end 1/2/03, but presumably it will be replaced by another deal. (The 9-3 doesn't seem to be selling well enough for them to jack the price up by $1000, and the previous gen 9-3 had these new deals month after month.)

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