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Saab 9-3 SportCombi



  • Right now I own both wagons the 1.8 A4 Avant is at the end of the lease and I wanted the great deals on the Saab. The A4 has the sport package and quattro, the 9-3 is a little more basic but still has plenty of bells and whistles.

    I guess after 4 years the A-4 has been pretty reliable, there has been no major repairs except changing those real expensive 17 inch tires, twice. I love the A4, the interior is tight, no rattles, nobody does interiors better than Audi. The ride is smooth and the quattro takes corners like its on a rail. I guess the best way to describe the Audi is tight, it wraps around you nicely and after you've driven a few years, you can really understand and appreciate the handling and ergonimics. I'll miss the car when my lease expires.

    The new 9-3Sport Combi has an airy light feeling. Its not a sportwagon like the avant was. Handling is ok and the suspension is softer. The interior is very nice and my backside is older now, and it enjoys the nice soft leather as opposed to the firmer Audi seats. It's much roomier than the Avant. The turbo lag on the Saab is much better than it was. (Did I mention I had an old 9-3 too?) Off the line it's much faster than my Audi, and the turbo boost is great for passing cars. It is faster than the Audi, I don't know how it compares to the new 2.0. However there is one huge advantage PRICE. It's just as good as the Audi for much, much less.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I think you owe it to yourself to at least drive a new A3 or A4 Avant with the 2.0T, they are both more refined and far more capable than the older A4. As far as acceleration, my butt dyno indicates that the A3 2.0T is a tick or two faster than the Saab.

    Keep us posted. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • Saab at the '06 LA Auto show told me the Combis are built in Sweden.

    Its distant American cousins, the Saturn Aura, Pontiac G6 and Chevy Malibu, are mostly built in Fairfax, Kansas.
  • No bashing here either.

    I'm about to buy a new vehicle soon. I really like the look, drive, and features of the 930 Combi, but I'm reading bad things about Saab's quality. In fact, consumer reports said expected reliability is "very below average."

    This scares me away. Anyone have other research, reports, stories, testimonials, etc., that might reassure me.

    If not, then its probably an RDX?
  • rs9904rs9904 Posts: 15
    my 99 9-3 went 100k until I traded it in running great still.

    wifes has 04 linear (same car but sedan) has been very reliable maybe one warranty claim so far at 2.5 years 27,000 miles.

    i now own an 06 9-5 sportcombi. very good 1283 miles so far.

    Sport ride, the safest cars, great seats, great fuel economy and sport turbo engines.

  • esfoadesfoad Posts: 210
    We had a 2001 SE Convertible, 3 years one warranty claim. Now we have a 2004 Aero Convertible. So far, one warranty claim. About the same as my 2005 Infiniti G35. Saabs are wonderful for us. The best seat heaters on the planet, competent handling for everyday driving. I'm sure that if we mspent time on a track, there'd be better choices but realistically the handling is perfect for the street.
  • saabgirlsaabgirl Posts: 184
    In fact, consumer reports said expected reliability is "very below average

    My family currently owns two Saab 9-5s, which brings the total we have owned to four. I'd say that they won't beat Hondas (we also own one of those) on the reliability score, but disagree that their reliability is so irredeemably poor that buyers should stay away, particularly if they like the car and its price.

    One question I've always had about CR reports, especially reliability, is this: What counts as 1?

    For example, you have 1,000 miles on the odometer and in rapid succession a headlight bulb burns out and the serpentine belt fails.

    Is that two? One? 1.575? Or what? If you don't know how they assign values it's hard to tell whether CR's predictions are a useful guide for future performance or not.

    It seems to me that a reliability score should be based on a vehicles' propensity for dumping the owner at the side of the road and be built on a robust data base, not self reporting. In my opinion, cosmetic complaints may be very irritating to the person who writes a monthly check to the finance company, but do not rise to the level of reliability.
  • An interesting question Saabgirl.

    CR says they "weight" drive train issues higher, but won't say how much higher. Since I'm a subscriber, I was sent their survey and one of the questions is how many times to the dealer for warranty work... then they ask a series of questions designed to "categorize" the work.

    They do note they are reported "averages" and clearly state that a car rated above average reliability may cause a particular owner serious problems and that a car rated below average might be problem free for a particular person. They also note the "variance" associated across dealers whose service practices are not alike. My current car that I'm very happy with (RX-8) is nevertheless rated below average reliability. I've had warranty work once in three years when the clutch wore out (it was only rattling) but the dealer was my total advocate and took great care of me.... hence I'm inclined to buy Mazda again and recommend them... but part of my positive experience is the dealer.
  • saabgirlsaabgirl Posts: 184
    They do note they are reported "averages" and clearly state that a car rated above average reliability may cause a particular owner serious problems and that a car rated below average might be problem free for a particular person.

    Aye, there's the rub, methinks. The info is presented as predictive, but it comes with a big caveat.

    Personally, for reliability, I'd like to see a hard number that reports how often the cars dumped the driver at the side of the road a/o put the car out of service -- the automotive equivalent of placing a car on injured reserve. Then prospective buyers could simply compare numbers across brands and models and assess their odds.

    My hypothesis is that the number difference between a car that CR currently rates as "reliable" and one that it rates as "unreliable" might not be all that big-- but the forced ranking requires that someone has to be below average.

    Well, no, I dunno how the data would be collected to do this.

    I completely agree with your comment that the dealer can take a lot of subjective frustration out of "reliability" problems which would lead to better customer satisfaction scores. A little empathy, a loaner car and getting the fix right the first time go a long way to putting the "positive" back in the experience.
  • I just testdrove an auto 2.0T SportCombi and came away fairly impressed. I found the Saab interior very enjoyable and comfortable to drive in.

    I wanted to try the 6-speed manual but none were available. The automatic transmission mated to the 2.0T was very disappointing as expected. Automatics and turbo four cylinders do not mix. I am willing to give Saab the benefit of the doubt because the 2.0 turbo looks decent on paper. Has anyone else tried Saab's 2.0 turbo with a 6-speed manual? What are your impressions?

    The manual SportCombi with the 2.0T is very hard to find. If I want to buy one, I would most likely have to order one. Is it a lot harder to negotiate the price if I order a car? I am pretty sure that I can get a 9-3 below invoice if it was on the dealer lot.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I test drove a SportCombi 2.0T 5-Speed right after they came out a little over a year ago and thought that its power was adequate but hardly impressive. That said, while the Arc that I drove was certainly more spirited, inducing the dreaded torque steer monster was very easy to do. As much as I like Saab's individualism, I just couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger due to the driving dynamics.

    Best Regards,
  • saablcpsaablcp Posts: 195
    My reply to both you guys:210 H.P.,221 LB./FT of torque,90% available from 1,800 r.p.m to 4,500 r.p.m....okay it's not a rocketship,but what are you both looking for? Go spend $50 K.and get an Audi S4 Avant.I honestly don't think 98% of the buying public including the majority of car enthusiasts will share your opinion after test driving the 2.0-T.However I do not concede to "opinion" on one point....After spending 36 months driving an '03 9-3 Vector I would be hard pressed to remember any occasion when I experienced any torque steer of ANY significance.Can you force the issue and induce it ...of course!Down shift into a hard uphill turn,flop the steering over ,load up the inside wheels and run it to red line...VOILA!TORQUE STEER! Well no s..t Sherlock!Allow me a direct quote from "European Car"magazine's 12 month long term test,Ahem!"rather than spike hard and leave you wrestling with the steering wheel the power comes on in a much more linear fashion.And there is no more torque steer.Period."
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Yo dude, take a chill pill. Torque steer, especially when accelerating through a turn was very evident in the 93 Arc that I drove. Personally I could care less whether a car magazine says it exists or not, I rely in my own experiences, and torque steer was what I experienced, like it or don't.

    Best Regards,
  • I made no mention of torque steer. I simply said that the automatic transmission does not go well with the Saab 2.0L turbo. The 2007 9-3 comes with a 6-speed manual and I'm sure 2.0T's potential can be better explored with the manual transmission.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    Well, it's not a rocketship, true, but saab does present itself as a sporting vehicle, and compared to other sporting cars in the range, the 2.0T is just OK. The 210/220 hp/torque are decent figures, but there is a little lag in the mix, which takes away somewhat from the sporting aspect. I'm used to being able to pass on the highway in top gear, but in that situation, the 2.0T seems to take well over a second to build some boost and start responding. However, you could always do a 6-4 shift and pass.

    Audi's 2.0T, though slightly lower-powered, feels slightly more sprightly by comparison--no s4 needed.

    I think a chip can boost saab's 2.0T to 247hp and 260lb-ft, which should make it into a pretty good mover, albeit with more noticeable lag.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "Audi's 2.0T, though slightly lower-powered, feels slightly more sprightly by comparison--no s4 needed."

    Absolutely identical to my experience. I drove a SportCombi and an A3 back to back and the Audi engine was far more responsive and felt just as powerful, if not a tad more so.

    Best Regards,
  • saablcpsaablcp Posts: 195
    .....and you are entitled to your opinion.The point I was trying to make was;you took A,as in one time,test drive,my contrary opinion was based on 3YEARS of driving and the car magazines was based on a 12 month/25k.+"test"drive.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "...and you are entitled to your opinion.The point I was trying to make was;you took A,as in one time,test drive,my contrary opinion was based on 3YEARS of driving and the car magazines was based on a 12 month/25k.+"test"drive."

    I see. So, are you trying to say that the torque steer problem improves over time by becoming less and less noticable the longer you drive the car?

    Best Regards,
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    To be honest, i didn't notice much torque steer in the 9-3 i drove. My old '900 would tug left and right in a straight line when you punched the gas ( and waited for the turbos to spool up, heh ). The newer car didn't seem to do that much at all.

    Now, if you accelerate during a turn, the front wnd swings wide. Perhaps that's what you were feeling, being used to RWD, shipo? I too find this objectionable, but that's throttle-on-understeer like every other FWD car in the world. Of course, stepping out of a BMW, it feels pretty bad.

    Euro-delivering a 9-3 2.0T combi with the anniversary package and a few options ( like heated seats ) should be 25K and change, which is a pretty darn good deal, so i think the car's faults need to be put into that perspective. I am still following this topic because i do need a way to haul bikes around, and there aren't many good wagons out there, at least at that price point.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "...but that's throttle-on-understeer like every other FWD car in the world."

    The understeer through a turn was there in both versions of the 9-3 that I drove, however, in the Arc model (with the blown 2.8), accelerating resonably hard through a turn exhibited enough torque steer to force me to work the steering wheel back and forth to maintain directional control. My thinking is that the 2.0T simply doesn't have enough power to cause this to occur (not that I'm dissing the 2.0T mind you).

    Best Regards,
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    Interesting. Usually, torque steer is described as pulling to a side when accelerating in a line. I wonder if what you were experiencing was intermittent understeer. The v6 is more powerful and less balanced than the i4 ( the weight balance of the 2.0T combi is very nearly 50/50 ), so you'd expect the handling to be not quite as good. Also, torque steer is usually predominantly to one side due to unequal length driveshafts, so you wouldn't typically have to steer back and forth.
  • "Well, no, I dunno how the data would be collected to do this."

    For those interested, check out for getting real data on what constitutes reliability. You can become a member for free to see current data if you agree to provide data on your vehicle. Since I'm likely to be in the market for a new (to me) car in a couple of years, I'd love to see a good population of 9-3's in the data since I love the brand but have been skeptical because of the reliability "prejudice" on Saab. If you like what you see, spread the word.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,861
    the dealer is much more likely to affect 'reliability' than the vehicle itself.
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    "the dealer is much more likely to affect 'reliability' than the vehicle itself."

    This is SOOOO true.

    I used to have a '97 900. A really good car. However, the dealer didn't do the services specified. I mean, just didn't do them. I think they just checked the oil and left it at that.

    So, the battery was never topped up, and eventually it exploded, which blew acid all over the engine compartment. That led to a plethora of problems over the years.

    The chassis was never lubricated, which caused one of the back lock mechanisms to eventually jam. I took it in, and rthey jammed a pen in there until of opened again. They looked as me as if i was the biggest jerk in the world when i asked that they do something more than make it work for the next hour or two. Eventually, they dug the lubricant out of a closet and sprayed it in there. Don't do a lot of work on my account guys...

    There was a lot more, but i am firmly of the opinion that how happy you are with a car depends in large part on who is working on it.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I had the battery explode in my 1995 VR6 Passat GLX too. Not knowing what would happen if I left all of that acid in there, I gave it several baths of baking soda and water (can you say FIZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ? Sure, I knew you could) within an hour of the event. Fortunately my car didn't seem to suffer from any long term problems brought on by the explosion.

    Best Regards,
  • I have noticed that the interior door molding does not seem to fit properly. I asked the service dept. if a clip or some sort of attachment point was missing. The response was no. Has anyone else experienced this problem? How did you correct it.
  • gbvgbv Posts: 8
    I have ordered a 2007 93 SportCombi Anniversary Edition - 6 Speed Manual...but due to dealer ineptitude, the order was delayed. I am told now the "build date" for my car is the end of June. This seems awefully close to end of model year. Does anyone know when the '08 model will ship? (I am in Canada). Should I cancel and reorder for the new model year? Other than frontal appearance, is there anything of note that would cause me to choose an 08 over the 07?
  • We are approaching 1 year of driving in the 2006 Sport Combi, Aero/Touring/Nav,Climate Package etc. We have had one issue. IN early spring during a hot spell the ac did not kick in. The next day it worked fine but SAAB replaced a temperature sensor.

    It is the nicest car we have ever owned and we got a great deal buying in December of 2006. the details of that are on this thread earlier or on 9-3 prices paid. The two tone interior is really nice.

    Our favorite option is the rear parking assist in the touring package. Given the low profile on the front of the car I wish this option existed for the front end.

    The car is a pleasure to drive as it is also the fastest/best handling car we have ever bought.

    Having a wagon with 60/40 fold down read seats has come in handy more than I thought necessary. Maybe 4 times a year so far it allowed us to purchase furniture and not have it delivered, haul tons of waste to the recycling center etc.

    If the Honda died today we might purchase another one.
  • Does anyone out there know if you can use an aftermarket car stereo provider to engage the phone button on the steering wheel and the key pad and phone button on the dash?

    I would love to have a system installed that would use these buttons for bluetooth as they were originally created for in Europe.

    Any recommendations?

  • Well, yes and no. You can purchase a Motorola or Parrot bluetooth, and if you have the TEL1 installed and the wiring harness from Saab, you can use everything but the telephone buttons on the steering wheel (the volume will work, the sound will use the stereo speakers, and the installed microphones will work). Unfortunately the remaining telephone buttons are for outside-of-the-US only. Read a different Saab forum (xxxxCentral) for way more info on this.
This discussion has been closed.