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Saab 9-3 Real World MPG



  • waterdrwaterdr Posts: 307
    Don't under estimate the hills and the air. Humidity where you live is probably a tad higher then the upper MW in the winter - lol. Cars like dry, cold air for max performance and hp.
  • I have many customers who have commented on getting 31-32 MPG in manual transmission 9-3 linears (again with premium and drive much more conservatively than I).
  • waterdr.
    I might add I have K&N open box air filer, Saab turbo back sport exhaust, short shift kit, little tighter suspension setup (although the suspension is equipped pretty well "out of the box/standard equip), and pushing close to 280hp and over 300 ponds of torque.

    I've had my Aero for close to 4 years and know it very well.
    I'm sure when pulling another car they are not letting off.

    I will give you that the V8 Mustang will definately beat the Saab in the 0-60, but has no chance with mine (unless modified) at 40-110.

    Being around Saabs for 10+ years and a history of Porsche/Audi/Saab racing I feel you are playing on my turf.
    Do you own or driven the Saab 9-5 Aero?
    The car produces more litre to hp/torque ratio than a Porsche 911 Turbo.
  • Interesting watch and done by one of my favorite programs.
  • waterdrwaterdr Posts: 307
    Hey, I used the "turf" comment first - lol

    Has the car been dynoed? K&N is good for about 1 - 2 hp and an exhaust upgrade downstream of the cats is good for maybe 5 - 10 at most, though many net 0. I have spent a lot of time around dynos and most people are very dissappointed after spending money on these types of bolt-ons because they never deliver as advertised.....myself included.

    I do not own a 9-5, but have driven a 9-3 Aero and a 9-5 Aero. They both seemed spirited to me. But everyone has their own definition. My good friend and neighbor has a nice 911 (non-turboed) and the car is lot faster then his 9-3 least by the butt-o-meter, but I am sure the 1/4 mile time would confirm that. One thing that sort of aggrevated me about the Saab turbo programming is that after a few seconds, the waste gate opens a bit further and the boost drops-off. They must do this to protect the motor and allow Saab to claim the 250 hp, when really it is less after a few seconds at WOT. I am not sure if the Areos work this way or not.

    Keep in mind....I don't street race. Never have and never will (not saying you do). The only real race to me is one either across country or on a 1/4 track. As such, I don't have a good feel for what other cars do from a roll. I used to have trouble with a Neon SRT-4 when my car was still stock from a roll. Cars have sweet spots. I have raced many Vettes and generally I get them out of the dig, and they play catch-up at the other end of the track. My car currently runs the 1/4 in the very low 12's and traps at 112 mph. I often times beat cars that trap at higher speeds, but I get there first. This means, they are gaining on me at the end of the track.

    We both may be correct. If you have raced a car from a roll and won....then that is a fact. But there is a huge difference in performance between a mid 15 second car and a mid 13 second car...there really is no comparison. The 9-5 Aero have a stated 1/4 trap speed of 94 mph which is really not fast at all and is a prediction of how much hp a car makes. Stock mustangs typically make 98-100 mph in the same distance which really is not all that breath-taking either. Having a better exhaust and intake filter will definately help the car breath better on the top-end, but will only net you 1 - 2 mph at most.

    I get those stupid tuner cars running my dam bumper all the time. Sometimes I will squeeze the trigger a little bit and get on it while still staying w/in common sense of the law. Then I get the ricer fly-by and I am sure they end up at the local Burger King bragging that they beat some guy in a sick sounding Mustang.

    The other thing that I do is drive like I stole it. I have raced guys who should beat my butt, but their "wimp-o-meter" kicks in or the "I still have a payment and my wife is gonna kill me if I wreck meter" prevails. Some people can't drive worth a crap either. One of the fastest cars on the road for the money is a 2003/2004 Mustang Cobra. I have seen people run these at the track and not break 14 seconds....when they are mid 12 second cars all day long when put in the right hands (they are a bit hard to drive with the IRS).

    Anyway, bench racing never gets anywhere. But if you want to make that car of yours truly quick, get it on a dyno, toss in a custom tune and see what you need to do to get the boost up. Saab truly wimps out on boost on these things as they only push around 5 - 6 psi, though I am not sure. Each lb of boost will net you about 5% more hp. If you can get it up to even 10lbs, then you will add about 20% more hp. But unless you open up those headers on that puppy, doing exhaust work won't amount to much of anything but make noise. But at higher levels of boost, it will help more. (I am not a Saab engine expert and never tuned one)

    Saab get a lot of power per liter, but there is no replacement for displacement. The nice thing about owning a larger displacement motor that they generally run at lower compression (such as a Ford V8) so that you can do soo much more with it. Mustang Cobras can make 600 wheel hp with nothing more then a pulley swap and a tune and still not be in much danger of blowing a motor.

    Anyway, I like Saabs...have and probably always will. I own a 9-3 but regret not buying a 9-5 for the extra room. I think Saabs are the forgotten son of the highway. Drive great, safe as hell, get nice MPG, quirky, and are not boring like most everything else. I wish they were more reliable and cheaper to repair, but I will worry about that when my warranty expires.

    Anyway, if we happen to meet on the highway, please ride my bumper, so I can get on it. But, when you pass me, please don't tell all your friends that you beat some SOB in a Mustang - lol
  • waterdrwaterdr Posts: 307
    I have always used 87 octane on in my 9-3. The book states (if I recall) that it prefers 89 which is considered mid-grade where I live. I see some places where 90 is considered premium. Out here, 93 is "premium" in the summer and a lot of places switch to 92 in the winter. Some stations only have 91 though year-around.

    If the car is set to run on 89, then stepping back to 87 will result in power loss assuming the car has knock sensors and the ability to pull timing. But, the power loss would be in the 2 - 4 hp range...perhaps 5 hp tops. The butt-o-meter can't feel 5 hp except for the fact that you wallet gets thinner from spending the extra money on gas. Perhaps the Saabs pull more timing then I think....I don't know.

    If the car is designed to run 92/93, then stepping down to 87 would be more noticeable and perhaps even not advisable.

    Know something funny? As fuel prices increase the percent different in low grade and premium fuels decreases. Meaning that if you can get better fuel economy on higher grade fuel, then going with higher grade will actually pay for itself and then some.

    Up here we have a lot of E-85. Once the warranty is up on the 9-3 I may consider having it tuned to run E-85. That stuff is 105 to 120 octane depending on the blend. Talk about adding timing....
  • waterdrwaterdr Posts: 307
    BTW, the 1996 - 1998 Mustang GT's were slow. They suffered from a bad head design. They were 15 second cars and the 2005+ V-6's are quicker then most of them. Many owners have upgraded the heads, but running into a 1996-1998 GT especially with an auto would be an easy match for a 9-5 or 9-3 Aero.

    The 1996-1998 Mustangs are the biggest misstake since Ford introduced the Mustang II in the mid 70's. Not to mention this was the first years after Ford dropped the much loved 5.0. It was a bad time to be a Mustang fan.
  • I have about 1000 miles on my 2007 9-3 Aero Sportcombi. I've been averaging 15.8 mpg in a mix of city/highway. I've been driving like a wuss, not accelerating hard, etc. so I have no idea why my mileage is so low. I'm worried something is wrong with the car! Any thoughts??
  • Wow..thats so low.

    When I first bought my 2007 9-3 SS, I was averaging slightly under 20 mpg city/highway. But, I was also using a low grade gasoline from the grocery store (Safeway) because it was about .15 cents less than other gas stations! I quickly found out that Safeway gas was really bad for my engine. At one point, my car wouldn't start b/c my plugs were so dirty. So, I think my poor gas mileage was due the gasoline I was using.

    Now, my car has about 5k miles on it now and I use a 91 grade only. Also, I set cruise whenever I can and currently Im getting around 25 mpgs city/highway.

    I think it takes about 3k miles or so for your car to 'break in' so maybe the mileage is lower during this initial phase?

    Try running a 91 or 92 grade and setting cruise at 65 or 70mph. If its still that low..I would take it to the shop...thank god for the warranty. (My car has been in 3 times already!)
  • waterdrwaterdr Posts: 307
    Some causes of low fuel economy:

    1 - Stop and gop traffic....drivers forget about how bad that is on fuel usage.

    2 - Poor O2 sensors. The O2 Sensors determine the air fuel ratio.

    3 - Under inflated tires, though not a big hit.

    4 - Using inpropper fuel. If teh car is designed for 91 octane, you will see a hit with 87.

    I don't buy the cheap brand issue with fuel. It ALL comes from the same place. Anyone remember the Simpsons and the Duff Beer? Fuel is pretty much the same. HOWEVER, if you a r running an Ethanol blend (15%), you will see a fuel economy reduction too.
  • waterdrwaterdr Posts: 307
    BTW, problems with a car resulting in poor fuel economy can be readily seen by reading the air fuel ratio. For $60 you can toss the car on a dyno and have a technician read the actual a/f comming out of the tail pipe. Saabs, being turbos, are probably designed to run in the 12:1 range or something close to that. A poor O2 Sensor may cause a car to run rich. A wide-band O2 sensor such as that used on a dyno might show a 10.5:1 thus explaining why you might be using 15 - 20% more fuel.

    Then, the next step would be to determine why it is running rich. Some dyno tuners can data-log sensor data while the car is on the rollers and he might be able to id where the problem is. A good mechanic could do the same with a road test, but he won't be able to tell you what the actually a/f is, just what the O2 sensors are saying it is.

    O2 sensors on a car are of the narrow-band variety. They sens a voltage signal usually between 0.1 and 1.0 volts to the ECU depending if the car is running rich or lean. They can't measure the actual a/f, but only know when you are running rich or lean.
  • My '4 9-3 Arc Conv with 27k miles gives about 25 - 26mpg around the city. I think thats good enough for a sporty car. The Saab is not a "sports car" though - my Mazda is more fun to drive !!

    I put Mid Grade. With regular I keep getting carbon buildup & the engine runs rough. With mid grade everything is good & mid grade gives me about 2 mpg more than regular. I have tried premium for sometime - saw no advantages over mid -grade (same mpg, no advantage in engine roughness or number of times I have had the carbon buildup cleaned).
  • Hold the phones! I was getting very low MPG for my 2007 SAAB 9-3 SS, and then I re-read the owner's manual carefully to figure out how to reset the fuel average meter on the dash. Suddenly my MPG (as reported by the car) shot up to 28 - 30 MPG (I do mostly highway driving).

    Apparently the SAAB gas meter is always calculating so if you leave your car idling for long, then your reported MPG drops like a brick. And my dealer must have done a lot of idling with this car before I bought it, because the car originally reported my avg. speed as 1 MPH! ;)

    The secret to reseting both is to enter the "SAAB Information Display" (SID) on the dashboard, and press and hold the"CLR" button on your steering wheel. (Not sure what this is like for older SAABs, but the interior controls are the same for 2008).
  • It's not just the octane rating that matters. It's true that the owner's manual says the car runs fine at 87 AON octane. But it also says look for a cleaner gas, one that's "advertised to help keep fuel injectors and intake valves clean."

    I recently decided to try 93 octane and definitely saw a boost in performance at highway speeds. But I also noticed a drop in my wallet!

    Too bad fuel manufacturers aren't required to post the quality of their gas -- not just the octane rating.
  • rivetsrivets Posts: 8
    We've had ours for about a year, and here's what we're seeing.
    Running regular UL. Fuel economy is very dependent on how driven.
    2 adults, 2 kids, AC off, windows closed, 2 lane roads, 100 mile trip: 35.5 mpg
    1 adult, 1-2 kids, ac, in town, mid-low 20's
    4 up, AC, highway at 60-65 (mostly with cruise on) usually around 31-33, depending on hills.
    1 up, some AC highway, 60-65: typically 35mpg, occasionally 37, rarely 38.
    4 up, AC (hot day), 70-75mph, usually around 29-31 mpg.
    4 up with baggage, 1400 mile trip at 65-75mph, between 29-31 (again), depending on hills and the right pedal.
    2 up, 200 miles, 40% interstate, mixture of county & state roads, around 35-36mpg

    Best so far:
    1 up, rolling terrain, no AC, driving verrrry carefully, 100 mile trip, back roads, neutral going downhill, very light traffic, slow going uphill: 42.5 mpg. This was quite hard to do, at least for me.

    Method: Mixture of SID and pencil/paper which seem to agree with each other within 0.5 mpg overall.

    Car has about 54000 miles on it.

    Bottom line: if we "just drive it" we'll see 30-31 on trips, and 22-25 in town. If we're a little careful, it goes up considerably. I'm sure we could make it quite low too.
  • saablcpsaablcp Posts: 195
    My '08 Aero Automatic Trans.,2.8L. 255 H.P. V-6 is rated 16 city,24 highway.I am not a lightfooted driver by any standard.My daily commute is 22 miles and takes me upwards of 45 it's a mixture of stop and go streets,some highway,and at least 8 miles of back country ,up and down hills, roads.I never avg. less than 20 m.p.g.The last trip of 120 miles on the Pa. Turnpike was @an avg.speed of 73 m.p.h.and my mileage was 31.3! My car has 9,200 miles on it and I use only 93 octane.I don't see the point in spending $6,000.00 more to get the performance of an Aero only to compromise it by saving on average $125.00 a year in fuel costs!
  • The 9-3 runs fine on regular, but I find it has more power using Premium, a little more get up and go for the hills, and passing power. I find just toodling around town, stoplight to stoplight, makes no difference. I do get slightly better milage with premium, but not enough to justify the difference in price. so it comes down to a little more poop off the pedal seems to be the difference.
  • We're getting the same in our 2002 9-3 turbo 5-speed 4 door. Cool weather (and perhaps denser air that comes with it) seems to be good for an additional 1-2 mpg on the freeway. Best for a 250 mile trip was 37.3 mpg at 75 mph with kids, dogs, and luggage on mostly flat freeways on regular grade gas.

    And yes (off topic) it's faster from 40 to 70 mph than a porsche 911 turbo, and cheaper to insure than our '06 Honda Accord.

    We LOVE this gorgeous, fun and moderately sporty car. :-)

    Far at the other end of the spectrum, driving uphill on a windy road at 20-25mph in second gear while towing a camping trailer nets about 10 mpg.

  • I have an '05 93 linear. I usually burn reg. gas 87 octane. I average 28.5 mpg combination city and highway. Over the road about 32. When I us unleaded Plus the mileage increases to about 29.4 and highway 33 - 34. The car has a little less pick up with regular. For the difference of $ 1.40 per tank I generally will use the plus.
  • Looking for real world MPG information on a 2008 or 2009 Saab 9-3 Sportcombi 2.0T with 6 speed manual. For those driving manuals what has been your experience?
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