Steering is light and accurate. Acceleration is more than sufficient Radio and Climate controls and logical with non of the touchscreen crap. The airconditioning is very strong, and quickly cools the car on hot days. With careful but not slow driving I am able to average 25 mpg going around town, and 36 mpg on highways.
I purchased a used 9-3 sedan a few months ago with the base 2.0T engine. I've owned a few high performance cars and this one is the most fun. The only the thing the two BMWs I owned/own (a '95 540i and '08 535i respectively) have over this car is acceleration at 85+ MPH.
Handling, pep, comfort, clean interior and exterior design.
I had never planned on buying a Saab and in fact all I could remember at the time was how ugly the older Saabs looked. A friend of mine had a 2005 Saab 9-3 and the first time I rode in it I was truly surprised. It was far from the hatchback design of the S900 and it was quick and had nice fit and finish. This began my passion for these cars. I have driven a 2005 9-3 2.0T a 2006 9-3 aero, and two different 2008 9-3 2.0T. All the cars I had were great although I did experience less than stellar performance in the Pirelli and Continental tires that they were putting on the cars until 2008 when the TMPS sensor option was included. I have been very pleased with the reliability of all the cars I owned and feel that the 2008 and up Model Years to have the best long term reliability. This is why I went ahead and purchased one after my lease on my first 08 9-3 ended. The overall fuel efficiency of this car is excellent and seems to beat many other makes for the power output that it gives. I worked for VW and Audi and have driven many of their cars and just dont feel that their 2.0T has as much power as the 9-3. Even though the 2.0T for Audi and VW has been rated very high I know internally that there are still issues with oil consumption and slug in models that this engine has been used in, and thats why I would never purchase anything containing their 2.0T. The new styling in 08 really for me was a winner. I had appreciated the older design, but wasnt a fan of all the plastic rubbing strips and trim that was visible on the outside of the car. I was happy to see that the facelift was focused on the outside and left the interior relatively untouched. The only thing that I wish had been standard on the 2.0T is visible sports exhaust, and xenon option. I really enjoy the interior and the only thing I would have like to see is a little less plastic and more leather covered surfaces like on the door handles and the front panel that surrounds the radio and instrument cluster. The leather Ive noticed stays in good condition if you maintain it, however if you dont after about 100,000K the drivers seat gets pretty rough looking. In older VW models that have leather it holds up much better probably due to several seemed portions on the seat bottoms rather than one large piece that tends to get stretched like in the 9-3.
I do lots of Mnt. Biking and kayaking so the roof rack slots on top are a huge plus. The roof rack was also available through parts and was not terribly expensive and looked great and was sturdy. I like the trunk space as it is very spacious. I like the aux jack as I listen to mostly music on my MP3 player. I like the steering wheel controls as they are well placed and make sense. Love the rain sensing windshield wipers. The xenon self leveling and cornering headbeams amaze my friends as well.
2008 Saab 9-3 Aero 2dr Convertible (2.8L 6cyl Turbo 6M)
Absolutely love this car. Had mine for two years now as a daily driver. I put 100 miles a day on the car and my drive is the best part of my day. Great performance out of the 2.8T 6 cyl, matched with the manual 6 speed. The car accelerates effortlessly. No slowing down in the corners, the car holds the road while the seats keep me steady and comfortable. This truly is a FUN car to drive. Gas mileage is better than expected.
Effortless acceleration, above average cornering, throaty exhaust.
More stability in the turns, I hit them hard.
Don't like the window safety feature, I keep having to reset them so they don't roll back down thinking someone has their hand caught in them.
2008 Saab 9-3 Turbo X 4dr Sedan AWD (2.8L 6cyl Turbo 6M)
I bought this car on day -1 and now 50K miles later I can say I'm glad I did. As a total package this car cannot be beat. Does it go 0-60 with an M3 - no of course not. As a total experience this car rocks - decent off the line performance, great handling, no bling-bling crap, and a decent back seat.
The XWD is amazing - youvery hard to lose control of this car.
Typical to Saab
- the locks are a bit funky and I would think a locking fuel door is a good thing to have.