Saab 9-3 Sport Saloon 2002 - 2007

Saab 9-3 Sport Saloon 2002 - 2007

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016

Pros:

  • Good range of powerful engines
  • Well-equipped
  • Comfortable ride

Cons:

  • Convertible only fits four people comfortably
  • Interior feels dated

Overview

If you are looking for something out of the ordinary, that is stylish and more understated than a BMW then the Saab 9-3 is an excellent choice. It comes in a variety of body types which started with the Saloon in 2002 which was followed by a Convertible in 2003 and finally a Sportwagon in 2005. The interior is extremely comfortable with enough room for five in the Saloon and Sportwagon models and four in the Convertible. There is also a wide range of engines to choose from in both diesel and petrol forms with the added bonus of two BioPower engines that can run on either petrol and/or bioethanol E85.

Exterior and Interior

The 9-3 comes in three body styles starting with the saloon that was released in 2002 followed by the Convertible a year later in 2003 and finally the Sportwagon in 2005. As with almost all SAABs the focus is more on comfort rather than sportiness. This is felt inside with highly comfortable and supportive seats, plenty of legroom in the front, but it is lacking in the back in all of the models, especially the convertible. The boot space is acceptable in the convertible with you being just able to squeeze a few shopping bags in when the roof is down, but it does improve when it is up going from 258litres to 352litres. The saloon is better with 425litres of space and also comes with the option to fold down the split folding rear seats to increase the space. The Sportwagon comes with the most as you would expect having a total of 1,273litres when the back seats are folded down, however, they don’t fold completely flat. The interior feels well put together and looks good with the dash being full of gadgets and gismos, but they seem to be placed at random with little thought having gone into the ergonomics and a logical layout. A facelift in 2006 did improve things though making the exterior look more stylish and aggressive with the interior being brought more up to date and a more logical layout on the dash for easier use.

Performance and Economy

The entry level 1.8-litre engine in the Sportwagon and saloon isn’t worth looking at as it feels sluggish and the fuel efficiency is only better than the 2.8 V6. The 1.8-litre turbo is much better being two seconds faster than the standard engine going from 0-60mph in 9.0 seconds and is just as efficient at 36mpg. The 175bhp 2.0t is even faster managing 0-60mph in 8.0 second and reaches 37mpg. The larger 2.0T engine goes from 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds and has an improved fuel efficiency of 38mpg. The top of the petrol range, the 2.8-litre V6, offers blistering pace and sounds great. It will accelerate from 0-60mph in just 6.5 seconds, but the fuel economy suffers dropping down to 27mpg. The two entry level 1.9-litre diesel engines are extremely fuel efficient with both returning about 50mpg. They are pretty quick too with the 120bhp going from 0-60mph in 11 seconds and the 150bhp managing it in 9.0 seconds. The 1.9TTiD comes out on top though going from 0-60mph in just over 8.0 seconds and returns an incredibly 62mpg. The 2.2-litre was discontinued and for good reason as it was neither particularly fuel efficient or quick, being out performed by other engines. The two BioPower engines in the range can run on either petrol and / or bioethanol E85 and offer more power and improved fuel efficiency over their petrol engine equivalents. The down side is that only a handful of filling stations stock bioethanol. The insurance costs range between group 10 for the small 1.8-litre petrol, to group 13 for the entry level diesel and up to group 18 for the 2.8-litre V6 engine.

Like to Drive

The driving position in all three models is very good with the seat and steering wheel adjustments enabling you to find the perfect driving position. The ride is extremely good being improved dramatically from previous models with the suspension offering a smooth ride on all surfaces. It copes fairly well with corners to minimise the body roll, even in the convertible with no shake and flex being evident as seen in other convertibles. The steering can feel a little slow and unresponsive at times and in the more powerful engines they tend to suffer from a lack of grip under hard acceleration. In wet conditions this is particularly apparent and can be felt through the steering wheel.

Faults and Repairs

There haven’t been many reported problems with the 9-3. However, there was one recall which involved the hood on the convertible as the hydraulic pipes on some models were getting caught. Also test any diesel options to make sure that there are no large quantities of blue smoke coming from the exhaust under hard acceleration as this could mean that the turbo has failed. The 18,000 mile service interval should help to keep the costs down and with many independent specialists around you should be able to keep costs down further.


Overall Rating:
Review by andy93tid
Monday, May 16, 2016

Overview

"The Saab Anniversary Edition"

Exterior and Interior

Excellent sport saloon car looks and an energy preserving full leather interior. This model is top spec and extremely well put together. This car has a build quality to outshine VW an Audi. If you can find a good one that has been regularly serviced and looked after it will last you a lifetime.

Performance and Economy

Great fuel consumption in town traffic and even better on motorways and long distance. Superb power delivery in the more than adequate 150 BHP engine.

Like to Drive

This car not only looks sporty but handles like its on rails. For a heavy car with power the Saab 93TiD is excellent in snowy conditions. An absolute pleasure to drive. The high spec leather interior with built in sat-nav, heated seats and Bose sound system is nicer to sit in than my lounge! <

Faults and Repairs

Like any car, look after it and it looks after you. Keep it serviced and you'll have very few problems. Watch out for the water pump. They tend to go around 50-60k and if it does will cost you dearly!
Quality
Performance
Comfort
Value