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Saab 9-3 Coupe (2002 and earlier)



  • bill_1bill_1 Posts: 97
    I am new here, but in general am interested in all things hatchback ; ). My question is this... is it that they are not going to make the hatchback at all or is it that they are not going to import it into the American Market? If it is the latter GM might change their mind pretty quickly since hatchbacks seem to be regaining popularity in the American Market. Heck GM would have to be crazy to let Mercedes have that market if they do have a hatchback that they can import. If they just didn't design a hatchback (Kind of strange for a European Car that traditionally has had one) then things might be tougher, bean counters at GM may not want to pay for the cost of developing one.
  • tedchatedcha Posts: 1
    Anybody know if they've extended the dealer incentive for the month of April?
  • handydoghandydog Posts: 19
    I am interested in buying a new 9-3, since the incentives bring it within my price range. While things like the strange ignition switch location does not bother me, reliability problems do. I really like Scabs, but can't afford thousands of dollars of repairs each year. Could some Scab owners give me an honest assessment of the maintenance cost of the car without thrashing it or praising it; there seems to be little middle ground here.
  • danielb3danielb3 Posts: 2
    I just purchased a 2001 4-door silver 9-3 service loaner from a dealership in Akron, Ohio. After researching the vehicle pricing on line, I e-mailed the (2) Saab dealers in my area and asked for pricing on the entry-level car.

    The one dealer couldn't help me, he only had some 2000 loaners available and without the incentive, they were priced higher than new 2001's. The other dealer had a silver 4-door, (the color I wanted), with the heated leather seats, automatic, sun roof, metallic paint, etc. My target price was $23,247, but the first number the dealer came back with was $24,857. After test driving the car and then walking away, the dealer e-mailed me with a lower price of $24,357. I told him I could probably locate a new 9-3 without any mileage for that price. He came back a couple days later with $23,857. I considered holding out, but since I really wanted a silver car, thought I better not get too greedy. I picked up the car the following weekend with 3,883 miles on it.

    My complaints so far reflect those in message #51. The electronic key has a terrible range. Most of the time I have to be almost next to the car for the buttons to work. I also am disappointed with the wind noise at highway speeds. My car tends to pull to the left on the highway regardless of what lane I am in. Finally, the CD player skips at slow speed or when driving over bumpy roads. The car is going into the shop this week to have the player looked at.

    I have owned (2) new Aura Integras and put over 170,000 miles on each car with minimal mechanical issues. I was looking for a slightly more substantial car this time around that would offer some decent storage capacity as well. The $4,700 incentive was my motivating factor in going with the 9-3 instead of a Subaru Outback or Passat Wagon. I hope I won't be disappointed in the long run when it comes to maintaining the vehicle.

    I can't say I am in love with the car yet. I do like the unique styling and the fact that I saved at least $4,700 versus the Passat or Outback.

    Good luck to all of you shopping for Saab's.
  • pocahontaspocahontas Posts: 802
    Sorry to hear about your problems. In addition to having the CD player looked at, I would think they could probably do something to help with your alignment and electronic key.

    Btw, I had a similar problem with my vehicle's remote entry. And although it's not a Saab, the fix may be similar. It took a few minutes for the technician to extend the receiver antennae with a small piece of wire, and the range increased drastically.

    If it's a matter of it just being a weak unit period, perhaps enough complaints about could encourage Saab to issue a tsb on it... and upgrade the unit. That is if one hasn't already been issued yet. You may want to check with the nhtsa website to see what tsb's and complaints are already listed. Knowledge is power. Good luck.

    Hatchbacks/Station Wagons Message Boards
  • td01td01 Posts: 7
    I have a Nissan Maxima and I am looking to buy a SAAB 9-3 automatic (don't laugh - too much traffic for manual). Any suggestions/advice would be great.
  • r34r34 Posts: 178

    I found that a base 9-3 is NOT a city car. The weight and turbo lag probably make it moves like that. I am quiet disappointed with city driving.
    Since you were from Maxima, you may have to get used to it.

    However, once you rev enough or exceed 50mph, the car moves. It is good on highway driving and curves.

    Also, the interior especially the center console and the air vents are ugly. There are not that many storage room. The cup-holder is dangerous/useless. However, the leather used in the seats are very good. The hatchback is very useful.

    I don't feel I am in a luxury/near luxury car but it is liked a car for "professionals with different tastes".
  • gomergomer Posts: 7
    Hello-I've owned a 9-5 for a couple of years, though I originally intended to buy the 9-3 (incentives at the time made the price of the 9-5 less than a 9-3SE.) Anyways, the car has been outstanding for me. I haven't spent a dime on repairs, though I have done all of the Saab recommended maintenance. My dealership experience has been very good as well, as I've bought an Suburu from the same dealer and the treatment is worlds different.
    From talking to other Saab owners (and going to, it appears the 2000 and 2001 models of the 9-3 are better than the 99's.
    Just my .02.
  • ckenedickenedi Posts: 16
    Coming from the Maxima I would look at the Passat 1.8, Audi A4, Volvo s40 or s60 and the 9-3. The 9-3 is definitely the oddest choice, but it is the one I choose over the others. The cash dealer incentives are apparently gone, but there is 0% financing according to the Saab site.

    I love my (new) 9-3. My only annoyance is that there is no auto-up window, the remote is too short ranged and the sunroof has no auto-open or close (The passat has these things). Its a joy to drive with lots of its own thoughtful touches. It is definitely not perfect and has other quirks that drive other people crazy. The speakers are weak.

    R34: I know you are a consistent and thoughtful contributor, so I want to say I definitely respect your views, but I do find it to be as okay a city car as a manual can be. On the other hand, my commute has several 45mph straightaways, so I get to take advantage of the midrange oomph. I am finding I can anticipate and incorporate the turbo lag. I prefer the base 9-3 because of its softer ride and 15" tires for winter driving.

    I also don't think it's ugly. Although I think the early 900s are a little more charming and distinctive. Its not exactly a headturner of a car, but the overall package for the price is a good deal and it is a little different than what is out there. I don't have leather and sort of wish I did, but didn't care enough to pay for it.

    FWIW, Chris K
  • r34r34 Posts: 178

    I just think the center console especially the air vents are ugly but the exterior of the car is beautiful. I like yellow rear lights and hatchback a lot.

    Mine is an automatic. I couldn't feel much difference using the Sport mode. Maybe I have to rev it more.

    At first I was looking at an Accord but i would like to try something different and better. I looked an A4 1.8t. I like Audi's name , interior, and reliability. Then I decided to save some money by looking at a Passat 1.8t. My friend got a 2000 S40 and I test drove a 2001 S40. They are smoother/quicker than Passat 1.8t but I don't think a S40 with sunroof worth that much. I was ready to buy a Passat but I can't resist the $4700 incentive.

    At first, I didn't like a 9-3 especially the one with beige interior. After I sat in a charcoal interior one and test drove it on a freeway, I liked it more and more everyday. I am still happy about my decision on a base 9-3.
  • I purchased a 2001 Saab 9-3 SE about a month ago. I test drove the base model and the SE... the SE with 205 HP and automatic is quicker and more fun to drive than the Base with 185 HP. The SE also comes with a sport tuned suspension and low profile larger tires which improves the handling dramatically. I owned a 1995 Maxima a few years ago and to compare the two.. The Saab has much more comfortable seats, better air conditioner (its already hit 90 here in Phoenix) and handles better. I was able to get a 2001 service loaner with only 1000 miles for well below the edmunds TMV and the sales associate was the best I've ever dealt with...he gave me a great price in only 15 minutes...and most of that time he was researching incentives and calculating the price. I'd be happy to give anyone his name if you want to buy a car from Arizona. I like this car so much my Lexus LS 400 sits in the garage most of the time...Lexus boring..Saab fun :>)
  • I am not a car buff, by any means, so any/all insights would be greatly appreciated!

    I want a 2-door car which is very reliable, and which I can drive to the ski resorts, without fear of sliding off the slippery roads.

    Last winter, I looked around the ski resort parking lots, and saw tons of SAABS (as well as SUVs, Trucks, and MiniVans). Why is it that SAABs are so popular with skiiers? Is it the skiier personality, or, is the SAAB better than other cars in snow? Is the SAAB traction control better than others- i.e. the Acura CL's traction control?

  • ckenedickenedi Posts: 16
    I think they are one of the best FWD cars in the snow. I tested it in Michigan during a storm and it was fine. I don't actually think the TCS (or even the brand of car) makes as much difference as:

    1) Driver's skill and confidence,
    2) Drivetrain (4WD>AllWD>FrontWD>RearWD)
    3) Tires (snow tires if appropriate)

    Having said that, the Saab 9-3 has an intelligent braking system, and they are great hill climbers, probably the best around. Most TCS systems are pretty comparable IMHO, they will mostly help with wheelspin from a standing start and a little in turns. Don't expect miracles from TCS.

    The Saab is also great for carrying skis (the hatchback w pass through) and it has, what may be, the best and easiest roof rack ever designed. It takes 1 minute for two people to set it up and 3 minutes for one person. The mounting holes are built into the car, there is no fiddling around. This only works with the "Saab" rack I believe, which fits Thule components.

    For overall stability I was most impressed by the Audi A4 1.8t w the quattro AND ESP options. The ESP really kept the wheels on the road. But it is a pricey, smaller and less powerful car. I also just didn't like the car (or the dealers) as much.
  • I think that you are absolutely right, that Driver's Skill & Confidence, is, perhaps, the most important factor in driving in snow.

    I think I will test the Audi A4 1.8t with quattro and ESP options, just for comparison.

    Question: When I told the Acura dealer that I wanted the CL that would be best in the snow, he thought the CL (non-type S) would be better than the type S (which has more horsepower and wider tires). This seems contrary to what I would have thought. Any insights?
  • susie701susie701 Posts: 4
    We are trying to decide between a new 9-3 SAAB or a 325xi BMW. The BMW would be a base model with just the AWD & CD option. We own a '96 SAAB and have had pretty good luck with it (with the exception of the lack of heat for 3 years which the dealer could never figure out.) Our daughter now has it at college in VT and there are so many SAABs in VT (very few BMWs) The SAAB would be about $4000 less. Does anyone know which one would be better? We keep our vehicles for normally 10+ years. Thanks
  • rbmarkrbmark Posts: 2
    Found out from you that Saab 9-3 base 2door was discounted $4700; dealer said he had a manual trans with my color on boat still from Sweden. It was worth the wait; car is an international hatchback, not a mere Swedish peculiarity as some repute. What a refined surprise. Had been looking at VW GTI or Golf TDI; none available in my neighborhood. Saab shines!
  • vicky7vicky7 Posts: 1
    I Leased (thank God) my 99 93 and have had no problems until it wouldn't start one day after I had seen my last client. I had it towed thinking it was the battery and a simple servicing that I needed, but was notified the next day that there was something wrong with the transmission. The dealer stated that it was Sabb's policy to replace the transmission instead of having the dealer even check and see what's wrong with it. Now this is fine with me, but seems really fishy. Tell me guys ... you think they're just jerkin my chain?
    sorry to see this happen would have bought this one but that old tinker bell rang just before I wrote the check and said... why not lease to make sure you won't regret this one? now it's probably gonna go back.
  • bill_1bill_1 Posts: 97
    That seems kind of fishy to me... was it an automatic or a manual? Generally a transmission does not fail without at least some warning and even if it does it usally won't stop the car from starting.. a bad clutch would but that would only affect manual transmissions. I am not saying it isn't possible, just that it doesn't seem likely.
  • rbmarkrbmark Posts: 2
    Vicky7, whether or not you bail from Saab, still you pose an interesting question; post it on the bulletin board under 9-3 and see what the historied owners say.
  • can anyone clarify current incentives -- is the $4700 incentive still around, and if so. . . for how long? also. . . what is the price i could expect on an SE?
  • jas3rdjas3rd Posts: 2
    The incentives for 9-3's in the Boston area for April are:$4,300 for base car and $5,000 for SE down from $4,700 and $5,500 last month. These were confirmed at two different dealers.
  • jas3rdjas3rd Posts: 2
    The Edmund's TMV now listed for 9-3 options is WAY below invoice. For a 9-3 5 spd base with leather, sunroof, heated seats and metallic paint the TMV on these is about $1,000 below invoice. Give this, the TMV for a base 9-3 5 spd and these options is $23,595. Has anyone been quoted a price like this?
  • I purchased a 2001 9-3 SE just about a month ago and I was able to buy it for below TMV. The car I bought was a service loaner with 1000 miles on it but was offered to me at more than $2000 below TMV including the options. I'm sure that even with the rumored reduced incentives that you can buy one of these at TMV or maybe even a little below. Great car... if you want o buy one in arizona I can give you the name of the transaction three ring circus acts or games.
  • vigorous1vigorous1 Posts: 15
    I'll double up on an earlier poster's view that those considering purchasing a Saab 9-3 ought to go fishing for comprehensive information on Saabs at

    Sabbers are the highest users of the internet of all car owners at 86% connected (last count).

    Sabbers also run one of the oldest, finest car forums of any, rated by the National Post of Canada as one of the best of any car sites. It's been going since 1988. Check it out before you get wrong or misleading information.

  • ckenedickenedi Posts: 16
    Thoughts on Accessories for the 9-3.

    Purchased a red manual 9-3 5dr w heated seats and roof two weeks ago and have put 1300 miles on it.

    My wife and I absolutely love it. It is a classy, fun car that exhibits well-controlled power and really rewards driving as opposed to just providing transportation. The more time I spend with it on different types of roads, the more I appreciate and am able to push/ take advantage of its power and handling.

    Accessories that I got with the car - I negotiated them into the price and got them at cost: all-weather mats, roof bars, the side cargo net and the sliding armrest. I also put in new 3.5" dash speakers and stoneguard on the lights.

    The all-weather mats are good for us because we sometimes wear hiking boots and track in mud and water that turn to slush or ice overnight. Otherwise I would not bother and definitely not "Saab" mats for $100.

    The side cargo net is also, IMHO not worth $100. There are lots of aftermarket versions available. Saab makes a big deal about dealer installation, and my dealer installed it for free to be nice, but it looks pretty easy to do. Moderately useful for grocieries, especially if you buy wine.

    The sliding armest is great. I can adjust it for long drives and put it away. Loss of the rear cupholder is no great loss, unless you have kids I guess. I highly recommend it and its worth every penny of retail.

    The roof rack is phenonomal and for a serious biker, skier or kayaker should be a significant selling point. At $100 retail it is the best buy in the catalog. It is a joy compared to the Thule we had on our corolla. The rack lived on the car for the spring/summer/ fall it was such a pain to put-on/ remove.

    The speakers were well worth the upgrade. Crutchfield has infinity kappas on sale for $65 or so and for us non-audiophiles they made a difference. We put one in and played with the balance between it and the factory speaker and loved the new ones. We probably will not put in door speakers or upgrade the amp.

    My wife commutes 40 miles 2-3 x week and shares the highway (rt 23 in MI) with trucks and her VW bug has had her share of rocks so we put on the stoneguard. Easy to do, although a few air bubbles. It does not interfere with the wipers and looks fine. Just put it against the wiper rests so they don?t get caught. Seems like it will be thick enough to avoid the foglight replacement syndrome.

    I am thinking of trying to fiddle with the resistor/ thermometer in the seats to turn it into a 9-5 style adjustable butt warmer. I may also replace the drivers side mirror w the european aspherical (but $125, ouch for a piece of glass).

    Despite any gripes it is a great car, and I am very happy I choose it over the V40, Audi A4 1.8t and the Passat, all of which are fine cars that I looked at extensively and have driven.
  • srs5srs5 Posts: 1
    According to a dealer I spoke with in the Boston area, the factory to dealer incentive is different based upon whether I pay "cash", take advantage of the Saab lease incentive or the 0% financing. Is this true?

    For example, he said when leasing, Saab offers a very low money factor (interest rate) and a $2000 discounted cap cost for the $339/month instead of the $4000-ish incentive if I financed it myself.

    Should I be able to get a comparable lease for less than $339 (9-3, heated seats, sunroof, metallic paint, no leather)? What is a good price if I want the 0% financing on that same vehicle?
  • gotnadsgotnads Posts: 19
    I am just about to sell or trade my beloved 2000 VW Golf TDI 5 speed. My back was injured by my 5 year old son. Seems we were wrestling, and I thought we had stopped. He thought we hadn't. So when I laid face down on the bed he jumped on the middle of my back and herniated a disk. So, sitting and driving my Golf has become an excruciating experience. I can't comfortably shift gears anymore, and the shape of the seat does my back no good. I am wanting to get a Saab 9-3 (never owned a Saab before, but I have been a fan since the 70's) since I have found their seats to be comfortable. My question is, how do the base 9-3 drive with an automatic? Is it slow? Does it shift smoothly? What kind of gas mileage can I expect with mostly highway driving? Needles to say I have been spoiled with my Golf's mpg, which has hit over 65 mpg at times.

    Thanks for the help.
  • Since Edmunds Rebates and Incentives part of the website no longer works, I was wondering if anyone really knows what the current incentives on the 9-3 SE are. I am looking to purchase one, and would like to know if the TMV of edmunds is still correct. I live in the DC market. Thanks for everyones help.
  • VOB just got a brand new shipment in. I asked if they could go to invoice like the other SAAB dealers in the market. He said they are bargaining and will basically do anything but lose money to make a deal. His name is Dennis Hughes at VOB. Tell him I referred you, and maybe he will give us both a good deal. I plan on going this weekend to check out the SAAB. I plan on targeting the 27,500 for an SE with Auto and Metallic Paint. I would be really glad to get a $36, 000 auto for 28,000. Let me know if you talk with Dennis. THanks.
  • ahflawahflaw Posts: 1
    I was about to buy an audi a4 1.8t, until i drove a saab. The sticker is much higher than the TMV. I also could not find info on rebates. If the TMV is true, I might be buying a saab. I was also wanting to know about European Delivery Program. I hadn't really considered a saab until I noticed the Vail Police driving them. I could use any information please. Thanks
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