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Saab 9-3 Coupe (2002 and earlier)



  • ckenedickenedi Posts: 16
    gotnads: The seats are great, the warmers also help. I have a manual 9-3, but tested an auto as well and it was good. Others have praised the auto as well. The S (sport) and W (winter) mode seem to actually make a difference. Our mileage has been around 28 with mixed driving. It improves with premium.

    Edmunds says they don't post rebates because they are not being universally offered, only in markets where there is excess inventory. I beleive this includes the midwest MI/OH that I know of. Saab is also offering a 0% APR and a subisidized lease on its website This also has info on euro delivery. For more info see BB.

    AHFLAW: Euro delivery, I believe, includes a 5% discount and plane tickets and some lodging but NOT the current incentives. I was able to do slightly better than the TMV in Michigan, so it is possible.

    Thoughts to others mentioning prices and salesmen, you should know that many dealers read edwards BBs.
  • shenbyshenby Posts: 1
    I'm in Atlanta however I will drive for that kind of discount. Who is VOB in Boston
  • ryman2ryman2 Posts: 7
    VOB: Thanks for info. I live in DC area also and have been regularly checking VOB and International Saab in Falls Church to keep tabs on inventory. We are looking to buy in Sept/Oct but might consider earlier if great deal. Let me know if they are willing to do SE for around 28,000 and if that includes 0% financing. If you can get that it sounds awesome. I am keeping my eyes peeled for dark blue/ beige leather interior. When I visited VOB this week it seemed like sunburst green and silver were the two most popular colors on lot. I hope you find one you like.

    We are also thinking of doing European delivery, although I want to make sure it's not huge price difference. If anyone has done Euro delivery, could you let me know how your experience was and if any hidden charges.

    Thanks to everyone for all the great info on site!
  • saabgcfsaabgcf Posts: 3
    We also went to vob this week looking for a 9-3 convertible and spoke to James Walton. We love the car and we are willing to share information to get the best deal for all. We have not gotten into really sitting down to crunch numbers yet. He says the couldn't possibly sell it for less than 500 over invoice. That's as far as we've gotten. We plan to check out International tomorrow. Do you have any more information? Would love to here from you.
  • r34r34 Posts: 178
    Sometimes when I started the car, I heard some "boiling water" noise (similar to the engine noise of a small boat). Is it normal ? Is it actually the nosie from the turbo/turbo cooler ?

    Also, I saw a small amount of grey smoke coming out of the exhaust when my wife started the engine.

    My car is only 850 miles.....
  • vigorous1vigorous1 Posts: 15
    Starting the car will not activate the turbo. You can tell when your turbo "spools up" from your turbo guage, at speed.

    I cannot identify with your noise. Check it out when you replace your oil after the break-in period. At that time, the dealership will look things over.

    Alternatively, take your inquiry to and ask around. There, you will find the single most tuned-in Saab (or any auto) community online. Saabers are the most inclined to use the net of any auto owner at 86% when last measured. This is a very tight community of interest. Many have owned Saabs for years and are just getting used to the 9-3/9-5. Saabers are among the most loyal car owners anywhere, with a super-high re-purchase rate. (Second most loyal of the Euro-car owners after Porsche according to Cartalk.)

    Our '99 9-3 puffs out a very thin cloud on start-up. This is supposed to be one of the cleanest-burning engines on the market.

    This car works like a charm after 47K km (30K miles) and still "puffs" at startup. I have to think it has something to do with the clean-burning system this car has.
  • ryman2ryman2 Posts: 7
    Test drove a base 9-3 at International Saab today in Falls Church, VA. Had not driven a Saab since 900 series. What a wonderful car the 9-3 is. I have read a lot of reviews on different websites and discussion groups about the turbo lag problem. While I respect everyone's different opinion, I have to say that I found it unnoticable. To anyone who is scared off by reading such posts discussing turbo lag, don't be scared off. Go test drive one. I think the only people who may have a problem are the extreme high end sport car junkies for whom every split millisecond counts. For the average person who wants a fun, quick, responsive car, I think the car satisfies all those needs.

    The amazing thing about the 9-3 is its practicability and versatility. I also read some web sites that complained about having to live with Saab's unique features day in and day out. On the contrary, I found Saab's unique features to be its strongest selling point. The hatchback rocks and provides as much if not more USEFUL capacity than my Jeep Cherokee. The seats- aaahhh!- what to say- they are the most comfortable and most beautiful looking seats I ever have sat in. Better than the Audi A-4 and Mercedes C Class in my opinion. And for the cost conscious, you get all the adjustment variety in the manual seats of a Base model without the added cost of power seats. Finally is interior space. For a car with relatively small outer dimensions, it feels quite spacious and roomy inside. The headspace is amazing due to Saab's "older" design, and the backseat has an amazing amount of room. I'm 5-10 and 195 and the car fit me like a glove. With the driver's seat adjusted for me, I still had room to sit comfortably behind the driver's seat. And because of the deep footwell on passenger side, you can bring the seat up pretty far to allow a very tall person to sit in back and still have plenty of leg room up front. I have to admit though, the stereo speakers are pretty bad. They do an adequate job for listening to the radio/CD, but try to crank them and they get very staticy. If you want to play music loud and cruise, upgrade the speakers- $500 to upgrade to SE speakers in Saab's catalogue. Last thing, for those who like center armrests, oddly there is one in back seat but not in front seat on base model. BUT, Saab catalogue has two different kinds for 43 and 75 bucks which dealer can install.

    Re price- I dealt with Ron at International Saab near DC. Real nice guy- try to deal with him if you go. We didn't get down to nitty gritty, but the factory to dealer incentive is still available in DC and is $4000. There is also 0% financing, but you can't use both dealer incentive and financing- one or the other kids. Still, either one is good price. It pays to work your numbers on Edmunds monthly calculator to find out which is the better route- for me I think if they still have the dealer incentives when ready to buy, they will be way to go since interest rates are so low right now and my wife has a credit union. Do your homework before you buy and I think you can get this car for a real steal. Good luck to everyone.
  • saabgcfsaabgcf Posts: 3
    you'll probably say we could have done better, but we got the convertible at invoice with the o% financing and a few extras. saab is allowing a 2.2% holdback, which allows the dealer to go straight to invoice. the 0% is over 5 years -- you really can't do any better than that anywhere! (we could have bargained for a bit more--couple of hundred maybe, but over 60 mths, the difference would have been negligible. anyhow, i believe the dealer's allowed to make a few bucks too.) servicing through 30,000 is free. bob martin was very easy to deal with. this is the third saab we've gotten at international and they always seemed easier to deal with than VOB. they do replacement cars for repairs and servicings.
  • saabgcfsaabgcf Posts: 3
    by the way, the break even on the 0% vs the $5,000 credit (with 7.5%) on the car is about a $4,000 down payment (0%) vs a $10,000 down payment $5,000 credit). just depends how much you want to put down on which is the better deal.
  • ryman2ryman2 Posts: 7
    Thanks for the info. It will help me a lot when my time comes. I think you got a good deal. I agree with you, International has seemed much more friendly and helpful. I am glad you mentioned the loaner cars for repairs- I didn't know about that but it is a really nice perk, especially when you only own one car.
  • vigorous1vigorous1 Posts: 15
    You hit the sweet spot.

    Those "quirky features" are selling points. Just look at the phenomenal success of the starter button in the Honda 2000 and you get some measure of how satisfying the motoring public finds it to have something "different" about their car.

    In an age of increasing standardization and jelly-bean cars, daring to be "different" in a safe, tough, fast, utilitarian car like a Saab is a safe bet.

    The Saab is an engineer's car; the Hondas and Toyotas are accountant's cars.

    Damn the price. Who gives a rat's butt? The car is all.
  • huntzingerhuntzinger Posts: 356
    As an Engineer, the Saab has some very good design concepts, but they fail to follow through on the hardware reliability of the design...because of its Incomplete Engineering, I'd call it a "Mechanic's Car". I have a '95 900S with a mere 50K miles and it has had more failures than my wife's recently departed 1990 Audi 80 that had twice the mileage.

    Sure, the 9-3 is vastly improved over the 900, but that can also mean had a lot of opportunities for improvement. I've found plenty of deficiencies, from too-easily broken headlight switches, to pain-in-the-*** foglight bulb servicing, to 3 major "drop the motor" repairs.

    Sure, the 9-3 is fairly unique in its practicality & versatility, but that's mostly because of its hatchback design, not its brand. Good highway cruiser, yes. Good interior room, yes. Flexibility from its huge hatchback, yes. Ridiculous markup on CD player and speakers, yes :-). Never leaves you stranded on the side of the road, no.

    And therein lies the rub. Overall, I've loved the design of my Saab and what I can haul around with it, but I've been dissatisfied with the car's mechanical reliability. As such, I'm willing to forgo that utility for something that I can once again trust to take on my ~400 mile/day business roadtrips.

  • vigorous1vigorous1 Posts: 15
    You can buy one of these fast, stylish, comfortable, utilitarian weather-beater cars at something far less than the MSRP.

    GM is definitely running a price penetration marketing plan in a heavily competitve market with 9-3s that are building a reputation for Maytag repairman/Toyota reliability.

    Then, the Epsilon chassis will come out with SVC engines, a variety of body styles, GM parts availablity and make those damn autowriters write something other than "hoary" or "dated" about the car. For too long it has languished behind the Bimmer and never had the capital of the Volvo.

    Watch and see what GM does with the car. My bet is it's in for a long run with $3.8B committed.

    I was stranded once with my '79 900T so I know all about that. My damn windshield wipers didn't work and I needed a long tow in the snow. Once, with my '71 144S Volvo, I dropped a U-joint at 75mph finishing a cross-Canada (Halifax-Edmonton) run so I didn't mind that too much.
  • joshuah1joshuah1 Posts: 22
    One of the messages below desribes the experience of a pleasant test drive. From personal experience I can tell you that SAAB's slogan "People who test drive a SAAB usually drive one" rings true for me. I had a Jetta and was set on either a Passat, A4, or 323i. I decided to give the Volvo S70 and 9.3 a test drive too. I was blown away by the uniquness and power of the 9.3. I would never argue that it is a "better" car than any of the oother I mentioned, or better than a Maxima, at least on paper. But there are many intangibles that make the SAAB a pleasant surprise. Go test drive one and see what I mean.
  • ryman2ryman2 Posts: 7
    Huntzinger- Sorry to hear you had so many problems. Thanks for sharing them. I think you bought 900 just at the year that Saab for whatever reason seemed to have the most complaints about the car. I did some research in Consumer Report and since 1998 on 9-3 got very good marks for quality in all but electric systems category. It looks like they fixed the problems in the 99 remodel.

    Joshuah 1- Thanks for info on test drive. I have written Volvo S60 off- not even test driving it- it has essentially a nonexistent back seat- worse than the old Audi A4- which is pretty small. Volvo's redesign was a real shame in my opinion. Although I don't have kids yet I need a back seat that I can at least transport 4 adults on a short trip with me driving- and with the S 60 I could not do that. I literally could not fit behind the drivers seat with the front seat adjusted for me. My father in law has an S70 and while a fine car I agree it definitely does not have the fun factor that Saab has. Do you have any comments on reliability- I would love know. Emails like Huntzinger's can make a car shopper nervous.

    Has anyone out there heard about factory to dealer incentives or financing deals for May? does not have info yet.
  • cbaccuscbaccus Posts: 2
    Is it possible to get both the 0% financing deal and the full incentive. I agree that sounds like a horrible deal for the dealership, but am wondering if anyone has bought a 9-3 s or se with both offers applied?

    I am looking at the 9-3s for about $24. The 0% would just be a nice to have :-)

  • gb16gb16 Posts: 12
    Here in NYC you get 0% but not incentive. Or lease a loaded 9-3 is $389 with no down/bankfees/etc. I've been debating a preowned bimmer but will go test drive this today due to this offer.
    The 9-3 I see here is around 30K (auto/leather/heatedseats/etc)
  • mlc5mlc5 Posts: 20
    I just test drove the 9-3 SE yesterday... the dealer said the incentive was $5K for the SE...and $4k for the base version....
  • 4banging4banging Posts: 3
    '01 9-3 SE 5-door auto, bought new for $28K in Feb. .....

    I wish the illumination fairy had visited the power side-mirror control switch and the power-seat memory button. The latter you can do by feel, but the mirror switch needs some visual cue.

    Oh, I guess a one-button "all up/all down" feature would be nice for the sunroof and windows, but not too much of a bother.

    Otherwise it's all good. Spent $100 for the rubber floor mat for the hatch area--now its basically a small truck bed. VERY comfortable seats (I'm 6' 2"), I don't miss the arm rest cuz I usually have two hands on the wheel.

    And how much fun is it to drive? I'm seriously considering selling my '69 Mustang ragtop I've had since 1982.
  • setopsetop Posts: 1
    which dealership has the $389 month lease in NYC for no money down? Is this for auto?
  • ryman2ryman2 Posts: 7

    I just bought a base 9-3 with everything for 430/month- 5 year loan at 0%. I don't know your situation so maybe leasing is better for you, but if you're looking at monthly payments as determining factor, you can get a pretty good deal till end of May due to 0% financing. We were able to put quite a bit down however, or else our payments would have been higher. I leased my last vehicle and was not too thrilled with leasing- didn't like mileage restrictions and got kind of screwed on residual value. Just my 2 cents. Good luck.
  • driver36driver36 Posts: 57
    I would be in market for a new car in two months, I wonder if the incentive still there :(
    Coz I am selling my house right now and it might take as long as two, three months to close the deal. After I have read many posts on this site about the Saab 9-3, I finally convert myself
    from Audi A4 to a Saab 9-3.
    Would love to hear more post about Saab 9-3!!

    Thanks guys!
  • tommyp13tommyp13 Posts: 146
    The 0% financing and lease deals are the only things out there right now. I'm expecting that the incentives will come back in the next couple of months. $31k for an SE is just too much, in my opinion. If they brought back the $4700, then I'd consider it. I'm still kind of pissed that they reduced the paint options, to tell you the truth. They're mostly washed-out colors now.
  • marshal1marshal1 Posts: 68
    I test drove a 9-3 two weeks ago. The dealer told me a $4300 incentive currently exists, down from $4700 a month ago and $5000 a few months back. I easily negotiated a $24,000 price on a new 2001 9-3 four door five speed manual with leather, sunroof and heated seats. I would have bought the car that day, however, the dealer wouldn't give me what I needed on my trade in. As it turns out I'm glad I didn't buy on impulse. Although it's a fun car to drive, the 9-3 just doesn't have the rear seat room that my family requires. I ended up buying a more practical Toyota Avalon for $2400 more than the Saab. The Avalon has more power, better workmanship, tons of room, much better reliability and will retain its value better than the Saab. It may not handle as well as the Saab, but it's a more practical choice if you're looking for a family sedan.
  • bill_1bill_1 Posts: 97
    Well maybe if it is a question of rear seat room. Even the base Saab 9-3 has plenty of power for a family car and hatchback configurations are always better than sedans when it comes to hauling stuff. Also I would look carefully at both cars comparing depreciation. From what I understand (rumor though) Avalons don't hold their value nearly as well as other Toyotas (its a question of competition, if people are going to buy a used near luxury car they are more likely to go for a Lexus, MB or BMW than an over sized camry.
  • edanie31edanie31 Posts: 1
    According to the saleman at my local dealership, the 0% financing or $4300 rebate still exists. This is what they call "alternative merchandising", so you will not see it listed as a rebate.
  • ryman2ryman2 Posts: 7
    Rebate of 4300 available on Base Saab 9-3 until the end of May according to International Saab in Falls Church, VA. You will not see it listed anywhere b/c it is a factory to dealer incentive- you have to find out about it from sites like this one or Edmunds or some other auto pricing site.

    Avalon- Can you even compare it to a Saab? If you were looking at a Saab and wound up with an Avalon, it sounds like you were not sure what kind of car you wanted or needed in the first place. They are two completely different cars. Probably the closest comparison for the Avalon would be the VW Passat. The Passat has a cavernous back seat but is nowhere near as fun as a Saab. While the 9-3 has in my opinion the most back seat room in the sports sedan class, it is a SPORTS sedan, NOT a FAMILY sedan. If you need to fit two teenagers in the back seat on long trips, its not for you. I can comfortably fit three average size adults on a long trip VERY comfortably, but if you need to fit four it si tight. That is typical of this class of cars. ALthough with the Saab you get a huge trunk- somehting no other car in its class can match. Also, before I ever bought an Avalon I would have checked out the 9-5.

    Also, while Avalon may have more power in terms of HP you also have to look at power to weight ratio, amount of torque and number of RPMs that torque kicks in and how the torque powerband works- is it even, does it peak at high RPMs? And I'm sorry, there is NO match in terms of handling, which without good handling power is useless. Everyone talks about superior workmanship and reliability of japanese cars- I'm not sure what the talk is about. I personally think that japanese cars just have never rid themselves of the 70's econobox feel, no matter how pricy they make them. And they seem to have the same reliability as any other car that is properly maintained. I know lots of people who own japanese cars, lots who own European, and lots who own American. Everyone seems to have some problems and everyone seems to have good experiences. I think that aside from the few models out there that have documented histories of problems, most people base their beliefs on quality and reliabilty on impressions rather than facts. You want facts- check out Consumer Reports latest ratings for reliability of 9-3 since 1999. It has been well above average. I am glad that the Avalon works for you, but it sounds like the Saab did not work more because it is not the right type of car for your needs, rather than b/c of any inherent problem with the Saab itself. When the kids grow up and you're not comparing cars based on the back seat, try the Saab again- I'll bet you won't buy an Avalon then.
  • marshal1marshal1 Posts: 68
    For anyone that looks at Consumer Reports regarding reliabilty, the Saab 9-3 is rated as having barely average reliability since 1999 and far below average reliability prior to that. Sadly, those are the facts.

    As for handling, I totally agree that the Saabs are far superior to an Avalon or other similar vehicle.
  • tommyp13tommyp13 Posts: 146
    I just took a test drive, and was pretty impressed. I drove a base with a manny. It reminded me of my old '83 900S in some ways, mostly good. My 6'1" brother-in-law sat in the back seat with no problems, as did I, and I can't see why anyone would have any complaints about the room back there.

    On the base, the incentive is $4300 or 0%, as others have said already. It ends on 5/31, and my salesdude wouldn't comment on whether it was going to be around after. The incentive has come down in recent months, so I'm not too sure if it's worth the chance of it falling more, or them cancelling the 0% rate.

    One thing that I was kind of upset about was that they don't make the 3-door with the pop-out rear windows anymore. That was a really great feature of my old car, and really helped with airing out the car (for reasons that I won't go into here).

    Has anyone installed aftermarket leather? I'm thinking of that, as the color options don't seem too exciting, especially with a steel gray exterior. My concern is Saab honoring the warranty on the side air bags with aftermarket seat covers, though I talked to an aftermarket leather place, and they said that their covers use the same kind of tear-away seams as the factories.

    I realize that the reliability isn't the best overall, but I hope that most people realize that they're not getting Toyota reliability when they get these. If they want it, they should get a Toyota, though buying an Avalon seems a little extreme. Guess it's a tradeoff, though I'd like to see Saab make more of a concerted effort to improve.
  • marshal1marshal1 Posts: 68
    I would venture to guess that the Saab incentives will continue until the dealers sell off all the remaining 2001 and 2002 9-3s. I beleive that the 9-3 is going to be replaced by a new model in 2002/2003. Therefore, although the incentive may continue to go down, as it has from $5000 in January to $4300 in May, it is likely to continue as long as the 9-3s are on the dealer lots.

    One more thing, I would also venture to guess that none of you Saab enthusiasts have ever test driven a 2001 Toyota Avalon, which I ended up purchasing over the Saab. Therefore, you really aren't qualified to compare the vehicles. I on the other hand have driven both vehicles and can assert that they are both excellent cars in their own right. I certainly do not judge someone for choosing the vehicle that is right for them. If you look at my original posting, #115, its intent was to provide pricing and incentive information on the Saab. I have accomplished that mission and now, I will bid you all farewell.
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