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Saab 9-3 SportCombi



  • esfoadesfoad Posts: 210
    Regardless of the price point, I believe the 9-3 is a worthy competitor of the other brands. We are on our second Saab and could have bought any of the competitors. But we chose the Saab because of the reliability (yes, reliability) we have experienced, the ride, the uniqueness and the value. Saabs are underrated based on ancient history. Today and for the last 5 years at least, they are fine automobiles.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    Based on the comparator saab's website, the 9-3 is 5K cheaper than a 3-series and about 3K cheaper than an a4. Honestly, i think if you drive the cars back to back, you will see where the money went ( quietness, more supple ride, nicer interior, etc ). And, you will probably get that mony back when/if you sell/trade the car in 3-4 years.

    I think saab needs to emphasize their unique characteristics, not being cheaper.

  • bouttemanboutteman Posts: 1
    Like with most things, a car's reliability can be unique to one's experience and totally different for someone else (unless of course we are talking about an obvious and general defect with a product). I am saying this b/c for every car manufacturer there is, I know someone that has had a bad experience with one of their vehicles.
    I am in the market for a new sport-wagon, and I narrowed my search down to:
    Audi A4 - 3.2 Avant quattro w/ Triptronic
    BMW 3 Series - 325xi
    Saab 9.3 - Aero
    2007 VW Passat Wagon - 3.6L 4Motion
    From my own personnel experience, I have had complications with a Passat Sedan before, I know two people that have had trouble with their Audi A4's, I've lost count of how many people I know that always have something going on with their BMW's, and I have only known two people to own Saab's and they never complained. I'm sure if I knew more, it would eventually raise my percentage of hearing bad cases, so that's why so much of the "reliability issue" is up for debate.
    Over the past three days, I have test drove each of these cars more than once, and if I had to make a decision on the general winner, I would have to go with the Saab.
    Although the VW had more hp (280), the Aero had a better torque pull throughout the entire acceleration range. The BMW was the slowest and you had to get the Audi up to a high rpm range before you could feel the good effects of the engine. Another thing that made the Aero feel quicker is that it is easily 600 pounds lighter than it's nearest competitor!
    The VW had the best Passenger/Cargo volume, then Saab and Audi, with BMW being the smallest. Although (with my height being 6'4") the front leg room was noticeably the best in the Saab!
    Because I have a newborn on the way, safety is one of my most important factors. All these models are above average in that category, but Saab is the only one that won "best awards" from the IIHS.
    As for the interiors (all models had leather), I found the VW to be the worst. Audi's seating seemed to be too lose for my comfort. BMW and Saab's seats were both great, with the BMW's dashboard and paneling being my favorite. I guess the Swede's will always have a simplistic view for their front paneling design...
    I think it would be hard for anyone to argue against Saab having the best exterior design of this lot. Plus, it has the best drag value of all four of them.
    And the biggest issue to most people... pricing; with all four models being priced with comparable options, the Audi was the highest (near $40,000), the BMW and VW was around $38,000 and the Saab was about $36,000.
    If you plan on leasing, then you really don't have to worry about the whole resale value debate, plus car manufacturer's always have pretty good deals for returning-leasing customers.
    Added information: my wife is a former BMW and VW owner, and see expressed her interest in wanting an Audi before we even started looking for a new car. After she went with me for the second round of test drives, in which she test drove all of them, she absolutely feel in love with the Saab and wanted us to purchase it that day. But, I decided to wait b/c I heard through the grapevine that there might be some better summertime incentives once the months of June/July come around.
    Unless something unforeseen happens, we will be the new owners of a Saab 9-3 SC Aero before August of this year.
    For those of you that are trying to decide, remember that it is your opinion and judgment that matters. If the seats of the Audi are more to your liking, then you might not like the BMW's or Saabs. Never take anyone else's opinion about something until you get out there yourself and feel/see the difference with all the models you are researching!
  • hillflahillfla Posts: 90
    Just wanted to say hi and introduce myself as a new Saab owner. Fell in love with the SC at the St Louis auto show in January. Now 5 months later - I own one! Went to the dealer lot last week just for a test drive - wouldn't you know they had a 2.0 polar white with parchment interior and all the goodies that I wanted on it? I took it home for the night and was hooked! I've only owned it for 5 days but so far I can tell you I love the turbo power, the seats are super comfortable, and the size of the vehicle is just right for cruising around town without having to worry about squeezing into parking spots! I am an engineer so I love all the buttons and SID display, although I could see how some folks might like dials and simplicity better. Had one quirk initially with saving the custom climate control settings - a quick call to my salesman got me staightened out and I am a happy camper now.
  • tebeloneytebeloney Posts: 4
    I really like the 9-3 SC because of styling, engine, gearbox, etc. Of course this is al based on web research as I am living abroad until August.
    I'd like to hear from anyone who has kids and this car. I have a 6 and 3 year old, and am wondering if the rear legroom and cargo area space of the 9-3 SC will be too tight.

    Thanks for any feedback,
  • maxxindmaxxind Posts: 22
    One thing to keep in mind about Consumer Reports' reliability tables is that they are based on reader surveys. This means two things: 1. Consumer Reports readers are not necessarily a representative sample of all owners of a particular make and model. 2. A low-volume model like the Saab 9-3 will have a small sample size.

    I think Consumer Reports provides some valuable information. But, in my opinion, their auto reliability tables are taken as Gospel when they really should not be. They are one source of information, definitely worthy of some consideration, but they are not the final word on whether a car is any good or not.

    I would (and may) buy a 9-3 at some point, and the CR reliability tables would not slow me down at all. As stated in an above post, I've owned many cars and trucks over the years that they've bashed in their reviews and reliability tables and had nothing but good luck with them.
  • pointatobpointatob Posts: 30
    Hi Tim,

    i too am considering the 9-3 sportcombi and have a 5 and 2 yr old. the rear seat accomodations are a concern, but i think workable for most families of four. if you look at any of the compact to midsize wagons that are on the cusp of EPA midsize wagon category (130 cu ft), you'll find the 93 to be competitive with others. even though it is considered a compact, at 125.6 cu ft, it's only about 5 to 7 cu ft shy of the mazda6 wagon, subaru legacy, or even the new passat wagon. in passenger volume, the difference is only about half of this, with the rest going to a larger cargo volume.

    it won't feel as spacious as the 101 cu ft passenger volume in the 2007 camry or the 106 cu ft in the malibu maxx, but if you can drive with the wheel telescoped forward thereby keeping your seat closer to the front, there is plenty of room for two car seats and two kids. don't try adding a third though! :surprise:
  • rsorganizersorganize Posts: 131
    Thinking about moving from a very nice 2005 MDX to SC Aero. Just want to get smaller - to reduce gas costs and feel a bit more environmentally responsible.

    Test drove twice. Very nice...very interested. Also thinking BMX 325 xi and Volvo XC.

    So: (1) What should I pay for Aero that lits at $37k? (2) Thoughts on quality/reliability - mixed messages/review; spent way too much on '99 Volvo XC and feeling abit anxious about these kinds of vehicles; (3) Have gnerally been driving AWD for a lot of winter driving in New England - good winter tires with ESP good enough? (4) Thoughts on SC vs. BMW and XC?

  • 54model54model Posts: 1
    I own my second 9-3, a 2001, and LOVE it. I was very disappointed when they eliminated the hatchback so the sport combi model is a great alternative for me.

    I will be tracking the comments here to help me make my decision for my next car. My Saab is doing great but I am always gathering data so I am ready when the urge for a new car hits :)

    A few things to keep in mind (in my opinion).
    1) The Saab has had two recalls in 2003 which is why the reliability ratings are so poor.
    2) The dealer can make all the difference in the experience of owning a Saab.

    I am lucky to live in a city that has a Saab dealer that puts all other dealers to shame. I get a free loaner whenever I get service and feel that the owner of the dealership is brilliant in his execution of CUSTOMER SERVICE. That factors into considerations for buying other makes.
  • chris47chris47 Posts: 25
    I can say that my wife’s 2.0T SportCombi is the best front-wheel drive winter car I have ever driven. We live in northeast NJ and have family in MA. I drove the car in several storms last winter with the standard all-season tires and was very impressed. It was much better than my Maxima which has exactly the same tires.

    I would not hesitate to drive the Aero in the winter. It should be fine with dedicated snow tires - maybe add steel wheels down one size of you are really serious.

    Reliability has been fine so far at 14k miles. The dealer had to replace a fried computer board early on but I don’t consider that a mechanical failure. We are getting 26-27 mpg with the 2.0T.

    We drove the 325xi and were not that impressed. It is a heavier car so it does not feel as nimble as the SportCombi. The Aero will outrun it easily.
  • chris47chris47 Posts: 25
    Price - use Edmunds calculator. If you or any relatives can get the GM supplier discount it is worth it. We got the best price that way.
  • rsorganizersorganize Posts: 131
    Thanks. Still thinking/shopping. Thought I had a dealer who was ready to deal straight; unfortunately, could never nail the numbers down. Was ready to buy, but when their 'hestitation' carried past the 0%, I decided to wait.
  • zoomlenszoomlens Posts: 2
    Brand New 2006 Saab 9.3 sport combi. Fusion Blue (metallic paint). Auto Transmission. Moon Roof, Premium Pkg, Cold Weather Pkg, roof rails

    Sticker price $33, 415.
    Edmunds invoice $31,425
    Edmunds TMV $31,993
    Price to me $30,688

    I think I can also get another $500 loyalty discount (this is my third Saab)

    Did I do good? It seemed too easy.
  • carquerycarquery Posts: 35
    Hi there,
    I'm looking for a comfortable car that will have enough space for my 5 and 1-year old's gear (stroller, box with change of clothes, diaper kit, etc), offer enough space in the back seat and get decent mileage around town and on the highway. I'm wondering if people feel there's enough room in the backseat and trunk with kids. Also, I've seen differing reports on the grade of gas you have to use. I've seen regular and premium listed. I thought turbos always needed 91+ octane. Finally, Consumers doesn't give Saab's great reliability ratings...can anyone speak to how accurate that rating is? Any insights would be appreciated. Thanks!
  • svosvo Posts: 2
    A) The 9-3 is certainly sufficient until the rear seat passengers exceed about 5'6".
    B) The cargo area holds more than it first appears to- plenty big for that.
    C) Buying a near-luxury car and worried about which grade of fuel you have to use? That is penny-wise and pound-foolish.
    D) While others have mentioned potential holes in Consumer Reports methodology, as well as the fact that recalls trash those ratings but pose less of a threat/inconvenience, bigger things to consider are the quality and proximity of your dealer and the fact that ALL cars are substantially more reliable than they were 10 or 20 years ago. Personally, I would not hesitate to buy the car I wanted just because it held the potential to send me to a local dealer that treats me well a couple of extra times over a 4-year period, and that is literally the difference between poor and good ratings. Looked at another way, there is NO highly reliable wagon that is also tops in safety. The A4 is probably the most reliable, and it is only OK. Those quality Asian cars have simply set a very tough grading curve and raised the bar for everyone. Too bad the Asian carmakers don't focus as much on safety and don't build family wagons. :mad:
  • The 2.0T recommendation by Saab is 90 octane fuel. It does say you can use regular but the engine perfers 90 or higher.

    The SportCombi we have is a lot more reliable than the 2003 9-3 it replaces. We've had it for two months with no problems whats so ever (3000 miles).

    The 9 3 safety ratings are currently higher than the Audi.

    I have no hesitation in recommending it.
  • SVO,

    In regards to the following statements:

    "...there is NO highly reliable wagon that is also tops in safety...Too bad the Asian carmakers don't focus as much on safety and don't build family wagons."

    You are sadly mistaken. The vehicle that meets both requiremnts is the subaru legacy. It has one of the highest reliability ratings among all domestic and asian (forget the europeans) brands and as far as safety is concerned, iihs gave it a gold rating for it's front and side crash test (and we all now how much more stringent they are vs. NHTSA). Also, iihs gave the volkswagen jetta/passat and Audio A4/3 only silver ratings.

    Granted, the 93 got an iihs gold as well, but when you count in the legacy's AWD system verus two-wheel stability/traction control on a low-center-of-gravity passenger vehicle, I consider that a wash. Throw in reliability, and the legacy wins.

  • Yep, the Legacy is certainly tops in its class on the crash test results. Unfortunately, it only has traction control (VDC) on the highest-end models, so it may not be any better than average at actually avoiding those crashes.

    All-in-all though, a great car--especially the reliability.
    But the seats in the 9-3 are waaay more comfortable.
  • Hi. I see Saab now offers the sport wagon in a 2.0 T config, which makes a lot more sense for me in that the Aero is sports car overkill and too much money. The 2.0 T engine also has a surprizingly low torque peak, more like a V6 than the usual peaky turbo 4.

    Unfortunately, there are very, very few Saab dealers in my area (fewer, even, than Audi), and none have weekend service hours.


    1. Traction control; is it a true wheel braking system or the cheapo engine-power-cut approach?

    2. What is the ride and handling of the 2.0 T like (anyone driven these)?

    3. Is Saab any better than the rest of GM in handling customer complaints? Or, like usual, is it entirely up to the dealer to "make things right"?
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    1) It does brake the wheels to right the car's direction, but it also cuts engine power. In other words, it's stability control.

    2) IMO, the ride and handling are a pretty poor compromise. So-so handling, and a choppy ride.

    3) Not in my experience, but YMMV.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I drove a 6-Speed Audi A3 2.0T and a 5-Speed Saab Sport Combi 2.0T back to back nearly a year ago and my impressions are as follows:

    The Saab was very comfortable and roomy with its extra size allowing it to be rather more practical than the Audi. That said, I like the looks of the Audi, inside and out, much more than the Saab. I'm thinking that the above two sets of impressions effectively work out to a draw.

    The above having been said, once under way there really is no comparison. The Audi engine feels significantly smoother and even though the Audi weighs in at nearly 100 pounds more and has a few less ponies, it feels significantly faster as well. Why? Probably the earlier torque peak and the longer stroke in the engine being combined with an extra cog in the gearbox.

    Then there is the handling aspect. During my test drives I managed to find two good freeway ramps that were about equidistant from the two dealerships. At identical speeds the Saab felt quite unsettled when compared to the A3 Sport, and when pushed, the Audi was capable of much higher ramp speeds. Of course this handling doesn't come without a tradeoff, namely ride compliance. Speaking strictly for myself, I like a firm ride so the Audi wins by default, however, for folks who don't want/need a canyon carver, the Saab would most likely prove the better choice.

    Best Regards,
  • Thnx for info. Guess Saab hasn't figured out suspensions like BMW and Audi have. Sounds like a dud, especially as their pitifully few local Saab dealers got so so ratings (closest one got a D) from the BBB.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531

    I agree the audi feels faster. I think it's a combination of the lower torque peak and the almost nonexistant turbo lag. The 9-3's lag makes itself known in any sort of aggressive driving. Audi's 2.0T's lag is much more subtle.

    Maybe our test drives were different--mine was on potholed chicago roads, and i thought the audi covered that sort of imprefection better. But i wouldn't place money on it, i didn't do the drives back to back on the exact same roads.

    However, i did drive my bmw on the same roads as the 9-3 and i thought the 9-3 was definiely harsher.

    Yes, i do think BMW and audi have their suspensions sorted out better than saab does. Bear in mind saab has taken a FWD platform shared with economy cars, while the 3-series, for example, was designed from the first chassis drawings to be an RWD performance car.

    The reason to get a car like the 9-3 is because it offers a lot for the $ and there's nothing wrong with that. There's 0% financing for 60 months on the aero SportCombi right now, and you can easily get it for the invoice of $32,725. Lot of car for $550 a month.
  • what's interesting about the 9-3 is how much it shares with the Chevy Malibu and the Saturn Aura; all of 'em have epsilon bodies and somewhat similar suspensions.

    The Saabs come with the option of 16" or 17" wheels. One review elsewhere suggested 16's made the car more liveable on bad roads with only a small loss in handling. Anyone here have real life experience with this?
  • Okay,ya' got me. As far as the seats are concerned - agreed. Luxurioussssssss..... :P

    And I can't argue against IIHS's assertion that stability control could prevent thousands of crashes each year. Give Subaru a year or two, and I'd bet they'll have stability control in their lower-end models. That's a hedge though.
  • Unexpectedly back in the market for a wagon that will last a long time (30,000+ miles/year), be fun/comfortable to drive and makes me feel/be safe in winter New England driving. Last 3 vehicles: 99 Volvo XC70 (great drive, huge repair bills), 2005 Subaru Outback VDC (fun/great vehicle, felt a little small-ish as the miles piled up) and Acura MDX (nice ride, lots of toys, pleasant/comfortable but kind of dull - and, oh yes: what was I thinking on mpg??!!).

    Looking to get smaller/better mpg, but have expectations - again: fun,comfort, safety and some of the 'toys'.

    Hope to act soon. Right now, looking at leftover 2006 Volvo 70R (reliability/repairs??)...2007 Subaru Outback XT (lots of fun to drive, now has VDC and a few tech upgrades new since 2005)...VW Passat (reliability?)...9-5 Sportcombi (what-no side curtain airbags??)...and, 9-3 Sportcombi (biggest concern is lack of AWD - even with stability control, will it match the other awd models in the huge amount of winter driving I do?).

    All thoughts and experiences will be much appreciated.
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 8,863
    I'd check out the Honda CRV and Acura RDX - both are designed as crossovers and have carlike handling.
  • Thanks, Rob. Drove the RDX. Liked the overall package (I admit I am spoiled!), but thought the ride was harsh. Will probably try again. CRV is less than what I am looking for.

  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    I don't know what conditions you are driving though, but i manage perfectly fine in snow country with RWD and snow tires. And AWD doesn't help you turn and stop.

    Since you drive so many miles, MPG ought to be a consideration, and the saab is pretty good there, with 23/34. The rdx gets 11mpg worse on the highway, which i assume you do a lot of, putting on 30K miles a year...
  • MPG is, indeed, a concern, with the RDX.

This discussion has been closed.