I have the 4 door standard transmission version. It is a very powerful car for the price I paid and climate control works great. There are a few interior problems though. The pixels on the head unit have virtually faded away so you cant make out the time and radio stations. Not a big deal though. One other problem is that the driver side door lock made a terrible noise when it locks and sometimes wont even lock when it is cold out. The alarm system works great after learning first hand. Overall no major engine or other mechanical problems.
I bought my 1999 Saab 9-3 in Sept 99 and have never regretted it. Sven the Saab has never left me high and dry (unless the fuel pump or battery died). Super comfy for all riders and far better MPG than listed on the sticker. Easily averaged over 30 mpg on the hwy.
I bought my 1999 9-3 for 6k with 45k miles on it. Since then I have put 55k on it with minimal repairs. Probably the most economical car I could have asked for, however there are a number of things wrong with my ride right now, its literally falling apart slowly and not worth investing money in repairs. Aside from random problems, some of which are due to an accident, I still love this car and the engine would probably be good for another 100k. Would love to buy another one but all the small problems are keeping me away from Saab for awhile.
Drives great, LOVE the trunk space, can't beat it for this size car.
Like the way these Saab look.
Friend with a 2009 BMW 3 series drove it once and he was raving about it which I found strange. Cheap used parts are easy to find.
Horrible console design.
Lots of random electric problems.
My seat heaters burn and melt the foam cushions for some reason.
Car requires capable mechanic - not most reliable on the road after 50K. Ignition cassette crapped out at 70K ($600 for T5), seals blew at 80K ($1800.00). I'm at 88K miles today. However, gobs of fun to drive (w/5 speed). I've installed many handling fixes (1999 base version I thought was poor) and it's great fun now. I recently drove 2007 BMW 328i wagon, 2010 MINI Clubman, 2010 Audi A3, 2010 Jetta Sportwagen, and 2011 VW GTI and decided to keep 'Helga'. None improved on the room, comfort or dramatically in handling to my old SAAB - so what if $2K yearly on repairs?; it's still cheaper than buying/leasing $25-$36K cars above. An enigmatic car, right for me.
Superb seats (SAAB should make office furniture), composed highway ride (never stiff or tired after long ride), mileage 29 mpg/22 mpg (avg. 24 mpg), spirited handing (only after $3K in handling fixes over the years), cavernous hatchback, reputation for safety, looks different than anything else
Turbo lag (helped w/ performance air filter and performance blow-off valve), handling & torque steer (added sport suspension, steering rack & brace and poly bushings all around fixed issues), lousy base (cassette in '99-ugh!) stereo. Bridgestone RE960's are perfect tires for this car when needed.