By on November 10, 2008

Volvo did it. Acura still does it. Audi has been doing it for a long time. And now Saab is giving it a shot: start with a front-wheel-drive platform, add a powerful engine and an all-wheel-drive system (hopefully with a few tricks up its sleeve), and then try to pass the nose-heavy result off as a viable alternative to a balanced rear-wheel-drive BMW. To wit: the limited edition 2008 Saab 9-3 Turbo X, in sedan or wagon SportCombi form. Success? Not so much.

Imagine a Saab 9-3 with a coat of black metallic paint, prominent stylized dual exhaust tips and 18” alloys that recall the tri-spoke rims that distinguished the brand’s iconic 900 SPG. That’s the Turbo X. The 9-3 has never been distinctive enough to be interesting or beautiful enough to be, well, beautiful. At best, these tweaks render it mildly sinister.

The Turbo X cabin is much the same as the regular 9-3 Aero, with solid black instead of two-tone leather and faux carbon fiber trim. The interior looks and feels like that of a $30k car, at best; the Turbo X’s price is 50 percent north of that mark. Interior low points: the hard plastic door pulls crunch when you grab them and various plastic-on-plastic itches when traversing pocked pavement. Interior high point: the soft leather upholstery.

The Turbo X’s front seats may not be Sweden’s best, but they provide a decent amount of lateral support. In back, you’ll find barely enough room for adults. Cargo volume is about average; the tailgate latch was fussy on the car tested.

The mechanicals: a 280-horsepower turbocharged 2.8-liter DOHC V6 driving four wheels through a six-speed manual (paddle-shifted six-speed auto optional) and the latest Haldex all-wheel-drive system (which doesn’t wait for the front wheels to slip before engaging the rears). The Turbo X adds an electronic limited-slip rear that distributes torque left-to-right to counteract understeer in turns.

Boost lag isn’t bad. From 3,000 to 5,000 rpm, the turbo six’s smooth, effortless grunt would do a V8 proud. Rev the engine before releasing the clutch, and the car launches strongly and— thanks to the all-wheel-drive system— without wheelspin. While the Turbo X is not blindingly quick, you’re soon up to cruising speed. Even at full throttle, the DOHC mechanicals barely manage to be heard over the prominently throaty exhaust. While cruising, the soundtrack is all exhaust, whether you want it or not. After a few hours on the road, not.

The Turbo X’s shifter is awful. The throws are long, the action dreadfully imprecise. There’s easily enough room between first and second for another ratio. Unless you rev the engine nearly to the redline, the powerplant drops out of its powerband. And even if you do rev to red, the powertrain bogs as you engage second. Meanwhile, fourth, fifth, and sixth are so close together that one of them is redundant. And yet the stick is still preferable to the Aisin autobox.

The suspension absorbs bumps reasonably well. Yet the occasional jolt suggests hardcore suspension tuning… until you pitch the Turbo X hard into a turn. Then the Swedish flagship heels over and the outside front tire scrubs towards the outside curb. Despite the trick all-wheel-drive system, the Turbo X’s general inclination is toward understeer. Numb, slow steering operated via an oversized (but nicely padded) steering wheel doesn’t help.

So, any  potential for some sideways hoonage? The initial prognosis was not good. Despite repeated attempts to induce oversteer, the Turbo X continued to plow. But then I found it: dip deep into the throttle during low-speed sharp turns, preferably on gravel, and the tail will step out, sometimes more than you’d like it to. At which point the stability control doesn’t seem to do much. No matter, the car remains easy to control, and a touch of opposite lock straightens up the X’s line.

While occasional throttle-induced oversteer makes for more fun than none at all, the trick all-wheel-drive system and suspension need to be retuned to shift from understeer to oversteer in a more linear fashion. In a good rear-wheel-drive car, you can progressively dial-in a precise amount of oversteer. In the Saab, you get dull understeer unless you do the sort of things you’re just not going to do in normal driving. Perhaps there’s just no substitute for an inherently balanced, rear-drive chassis.

Saab desperately needs a great car, one that provides the sort of unique driving experience that gave the brand a brief golden age in the mid-1980s. Sadly, the 9-3 Turbo X isn’t it. Saab’s engineers lacked either the nerve or the authority to push this car as far as it needed to go. As a result, the Turbo X will please neither those seeking luxury nor those seeking an engaging driving experience.

[Saab provided the vehicle reviewed, insurance and a tank of gas]

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51 Comments on “Review: Saab 9-3 Turbo X...”

  • avatar

    That’s disappointing that these are luke-warm vehicles, they really do look nice. The convertible is especially sweet looking, but I still can’t get over the fact that your driving a damn rebadged Chevy.

  • avatar

    It doesn’t seem in any way like a Chevy, I’ll readily give Saab that much credit.

    On the reliability front, the Saab 9-3’s repair rate is about average for the 2007, but worse than average for older years, based on TrueDelta’s survey results:

    Will the more recent model years continue to be relatively reliable as they age, or will they go down the same path as the 2003-2006? Time will tell.

  • avatar

    It doesn’t seem in any way like a Chevy, I’ll readily give Saab that much credit.
    That’s very good to hear. Let’s hope their reliability improves.

  • avatar

    My brother had a 2006 9-3 2.0t with the “button dash” – and while it did feel cheap in places, I can confirm it certainly did not feel like a Chevy or any other GM product for that matter. Maybe for the price the flaws of the 2.0t are more forgivable – though I really did like the way the car drove, especially with the turbo four.

  • avatar

    I was really hoping this would be a newer, better 9-3 Viggen, but all that I’ve read says it’s worse –at least the Viggen has torque steer to keep you on your toes.

    It’s a pity, because it’s a beautiful car, especially in wagon guise. I love how dark and almost menacing it looks. They should be selling the car at 35k MAX. It’s deep into BMW 335 territory and come on.. twin turbo inline 6 anyone? mmm

  • avatar

    Is the ignition in the center console? Did they mention by any chance just which jet this was born from?

  • avatar

    Volvo built, then (thanks, Ford) discontinued a better take on the AWD performance model. It, too, had a somewhat vague manual shifter and tight seating in back. Mine has the Aisin 5-speed auto, which in later versions was replaced with a 6-speed that could handle the full torque from the max 14 psi turbo boost. I rarely miss the manual gear selectivity; the automatic shifts are fast and smooth. In “shiftronic” manual mode, the reaction time is too slow to be useful except for downhill braking. My left leg appreciates the absence of a clutch pedal in traffic.

  • avatar

    In the Saab, you get dull understeer unless you do the sort of things you’re just not going to do in normal driving.

    How very Viggen. I remember having to go against every instinct I had in that car in order to get it to do what I wanted it to do. My SE is significantly less insane, but the same applies, from what I recall: it’s a mundane car that can handle and is fun, but only after you get past the initial hurdles of chassis floppiness and resolute understeer.

    The Epsilon 9-3 dialled out a lot of that weirdness, which is kind of a pity. I think the car–and the brand–might have had a chance if GM had allowed it to be a little more unconventional, but they were determined to beat BMW. Why they decided to do it with a car that wasn’t a BMW figher to start with, though, was odd.

    Saab could have been a better Acura or possibly a better Audi. GM had lost interest by then, and it shows.

  • avatar

    This isn’t supposed to be the big seller — as I recall, something like 600 units for the US. At that volume, price isn’t a big deal — presumably only the most Saab faithful will buy.

    Its the car in the showroom that looks fantastic, then buyers see a very similar car for $1000’s less 15 feet away — that is in their price range — that’s the one they buy.

    And not to take away from this review, but so far Saab must be doing something right — the popular press is being pretty positive — and in that regards, this car is doing its job for the rest of Saab.


  • avatar

    Theoretically speaking, if GM does declare bankruptcy, files Chpt. 11 or some such event by end of the year, what would happen to Saab? Could they possibly be released on their own or that isn’t possible?

  • avatar

    Tis a shame, because I actually like this car. On paper it sounds great, and I think it has a nice understated elegance (faux CF aside, that’s idiot riceboy stuff). Plus I think you can guarantee this will be on a used car lot at half price by this time next year (not good for first owner, great for bargain hunters like meself).

    But there is no excuse for a middling car at an inflated price in today’s new OR used market. So I’ll drop this one from my “wouldn’t mind that in the garage” list.

  • avatar

    JEC is correct. These things depreciate like nothing else. Why buy a new Saab, EVER? You can get a very nice car a year or three later for the price of a Malibu. I sat in the 9-3 wagon at the auto show this weekend, so the comment on the door handles was what grabbed me, It’s an inexcusably cheap touch for a lux car. My wife is in love with the wagon, though. When I explained to her that $40000 will get you a nice BMW she made some comment about men who drive BMWs. My company just got hit with downsizing, so two marketing folks just bought used Saabs to try to maintain appearances (they traded in an A6 and a 335, iirc). So there is still a small audience for these, aside from college professors and people for whom Volvos are too stodgy, I guess.

  • avatar
    John R

    $60k for a FWD based AWD car that can’t best an Infiniti G (which can be had in the thirties) in driving experience or a Lexus IS in interior accoutrements or a German in both. Let alone an Acura in reliability.

    This is precisely why it completely baffles me that Saab still exists.


    Just for giggles:;?tracktype=usedcc&searchType=21&pageNumber=0&numResultsPerPage=50&largeNumResultsPerPage=0&sortorder=descending&sortfield=PRICE+descending&certifiedOnly=false&criteria=K-%7cE-%7cM-_5_%7cB-75000%7cD-_48_%7cN-N%7cR-100%7cI-1%2c7%7cP-PRICE+descending%7cQ-descending%7cZ-19801&aff=national&paId=292320002&recnum=6&leadExists=true

    Sorry for the length of the link.

  • avatar

    Pity, really. But Volvo, Saab and Acura all face the same problem — they make very nice AWD cars, but try to charge $40-45K, when $30K is all the market wants to pay.

    You can’t swing a cat around here without hitting a 3 year old Infiniti G35x on sale for ~$18K. Seems like a lot more car for less than half the cash, to me.

    If I were running SAAB, I would move heaven and earth to get these things priced at $30K, where dealers could be competitive with a $399/month lease. Otherwise, all they’ll attract are SAAB die-hards, and there are only a few hundred left at this point.

  • avatar

    A note to other commenters: based on the price he cites, John R is Canadian. The Turbo X is “only” around $45,000 in the U.S.

    peteinsonj: the edition was limited, but these cars remain available in my area months after they arrived.

    I really wanted to like this car. Problem is, they took it about 80% of the way to where it needs to be. With better gear ratios and better suspension tuning, it’d be a winner.

  • avatar
    John R

    @Michael Karesh

    Sorry. I’m from Delaware. I took this, The interior looks and feels like that of a $30k car, at best; the Turbo X’s price is 50 percent north of that mark…, to mean that Saab was asking for $60k.

    I apologize for the confusion. Yet, still, $45k is still outrageous for this.

    How about this for giggles then:;?tracktype=usedcc&searchType=78&pageNumber=0&numResultsPerPage=50&largeNumResultsPerPage=0&sortorder=descending&sortfield=PRICE+descending&certifiedOnly=false&criteria=K-%7cE-%7cM-_5_%7cB-45000%7cD-_47_%7cN-N%7cR-100%7cI-1%2c7%7cP-PRICE+descending%7cQ-descending%7cZ-19801&aff=national&paId=283088188&recnum=0&leadExists=false

  • avatar

    I think it is interesting that Audi gets a free pass from enthusiasts for making four- and six-cylinder front-biased AWD sports sedans, when Acura (especially), Volvo and Saab can’t get the time of day.

    Recall the Audi is dropping the eight-cylinder from the S4, and that it’s been a nose-heavy car for a while, yet there’s hardly a blip. Yet the most recent Acura RL and TL with SH-AWD (as well as Saab and Volvo’s offerings) get no love, but cost about as much as a loaded A4, handle about as well, come with more stuff, are much larger and are only slightly slower.

    And we won’t even talk about cars like the C- and E-Class, which aren’t agile, and are slow and feature-poor unless you pay a lot money.

    I think there’s more than a little brand snobbery here…

  • avatar

    What a crying shame. IMO this is one of the nicest looking modern cars available today and – as others have said – on paper it appears to be a winner. Shame that the car suffers from being a part of the GM “family.” Everything that company touches (cept vette and G8) turns to you-know-what.

  • avatar

    45k for the Turbo X? Piffle. As others here have noted, Saabs are a great value–used. You could purchase three used 9-3 Aero’s in good shape for the price of the Turbo X. Just don’t dip below model year 2003 (deadly engine sludge issues) and you’ll find loads of low-mile, cheap used Saabs out there. And Saab owners aren’t really known for their hoonery, so it’s a pretty safe bet the car hasn’t been abused.

  • avatar
    Ashy Larry

    Kind of what I expected from this car. It’s got all the classic GM hallmarks of half-baked product — go 80% of the way, while beancounters and marketing managers hold you back on the final 20%. None of the bats**t crazy Onkel-Olaf-tinkering-in-the-shed engineering that gave us the Viggen (not that that woudl have helped sales, but at least Saab would go down in a blaze of glory). The Viggen was a a car that, for all its flaws, had so many high points that it was difficult not to love dearly — I defy anyone not to smile when you unload on the throttle in 2nd or third gear in that beast. It engenders fierce loyalty among its owners. I seriously doubt the TurboX will do so — especially when poeple realize that they can get the XWD system in a plain vanilla Aero with as much power and not quite so crazy a price tag.

  • avatar

    The only Saab I’d consider buying with my hard-earned money is the cheapest one: the 9-2.

    All their other models are for posers who think their rides are unique just because it’s “Scandanavian.”

  • avatar

    Saab USA’s website prices them at about $37-38K with the red-tag sale, etc. It’s too bad that a limited edition car has to be discounted… it says something about it’s demand. And who pays the manufacturer’s website price anyway? And no, I’m not going to buy one. I might consider one in a few years.

    It used to be that Saab made cars that did things that no other car could do. An SPG, for example, kept up with just about any car in it’s “class”, but you could sleep in the hatch when you put the seats down. My 9000 Aero keeps up with a lot of cars on the road (0-60 in 6.1-6.5 depending on the publication), and regularly gets over 500 miles on it’s 17 gallon tank, and I can put a couple of fully assembled bikes in the hatch, or a five-drawer dresser. Those are cars worth another look. When Saab (GM) tries to make cars that compete with the other guys, it becomes clear that the other guys have been at it a long time, and Saab has a few things to learn. It’s too bad the Turbo-X falls just a little bit short.

    Time will tell what happens with Saab.


  • avatar

    XWD?? 10 Wheel Drive?? This must be the greatest offroad vehicle ever built!

  • avatar

    I’ve driven the Turbo X on winding country roads, and it’s an excellent machine, with loads of power, grip, and stability. Its wide performance envelope will be pushed by very few. Nevertheless, the review accurately identifies its weaknesses, like some cheap interior materials and the awful booming exhaust note at cruising speeds. Its dynamics don’t quite match a good RWD performance sedan’s, but they’re great just the same, and I know which I’d prefer next time I need to make my commute in a snowstorm.

    And the absurdly high MSRP is misleading, because all GM/Saab incentives apply in full to the Turbo X. Some have sold in the $35-36k range, which is eminently reasonable considering the performance and very high level of standard equipment. A comparably equipped A4 2.0T quattro is in the same range, and won’t touch the Turbo X’s performance.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    And Saab owners aren’t really known for their hoonery, so it’s a pretty safe bet the car hasn’t been abused.

    Please tell that to State Trooper Lawson, since he nailed me and my Aero at 128 mph (his words) early Saturday morning (checking out the balance on my new tires).

    That’s going to leave a mark.

  • avatar

    I test drove the Turbo X in August. Nice ride, but the engine note/drone was so pronounced, I knew it would drive me crazy on a long trip.

    As a current 9-3 turbo owner, I can tell you that their quality sucks, really really bad. My transmission had to be replaced at 23K miles, fortunately under warranty. When I called the shop after two weeks to find out what was taking so long, I was told that my transmission failure was “Fourth of seven”. Yikes!

    It’s also not encouraging that for this new model year GM is reverting SAAB’s (and only SAAB’s!) power train warranty back to 50K miles, down from 100K miles. That they are doing this just as they are introducing a brand new four wheel drive system probably is no coincidence.

    The chances that SAAB got the XWD system right the first time is basically zero. GM is using new SAAB drivers as their testers/guinea pigs for a system they want to roll out on all their sedans.

    Don’t be one of them.

  • avatar
    Frayed Knot

    The disclaimer implies that only one car was tested. Yet you claim that the stick is preferable to the auto transmission, which implies that you drove both versions of the car. Did you test both transmissions, or was the dig at the autobox a throwaway line.

  • avatar

    Just don’t dip below model year 2003 (deadly engine sludge issues) and you’ll find loads of low-mile, cheap used Saabs out there.

    To be fair:
    * That’s the 1998-2003 B205/235 engine (which I have, at 190,000kms in my 02 9-3). Highway-miles versions are less susceptible, and it’s a real good idea to make sure the seller has oil change receipts as Saab does cover it to eight years and unlimited mileage. It’s also possible to clean the engine, if you’ve the time or money.
    * The old convertible continued into 2003, so if you’re trying avoid the B205/235 sludge issue, keep that in mind.
    * I’m not sure, but the 9-5 (which still uses this engine) might still be affected.
    * The Epsilon 9-3 from 2003 may be blessed by the sludge-free the 2.0L Ecotec, but the whole rest of the car is flaky bastard from which you should stay the hell away; I’d say, holistically, the 03 is much worse than the 02, and 2006 and newer would be my bet.

  • avatar

    My current daily driver is a loaded 2000 9-3 SE with about 96,000 miles. Bought it from the original owner almost a year ago, in very good condition with the Saab rescue kit already installed (steering brace to nullify torque steer and revamped suspension).

    While the platform is still a bit flawed, the overall driving experience is fun as hell and the motor pulls like a champ. Very, very fun car to drive. Holds four people comfortably and huge hatch will carry whatever you need.

    I bought this car for cheap – about $6K. Can’t imagine getting more car for the money. And I do get compliments. Nothing else on the road looks like it anymore and I’m in no hurry to get rid of it. I could have bought a newer vehicle and could have spent more. In fact, I drove a later model 9-3 (4 door sedan) and IMO the newer Saabs don’t compare to the previous generation. More isolated driving experience, motor didn’t pull as hard, build quality didn’t seem as solid. I could go on.

    I even found and drove a Viggen but the performance of the 9-3 SE was close enough where I didn’t think spending the extra dough was needed. I feel like I have a cheap, fun, good looking and practical vehicle that is going to last for at least a few more years before I consider buying either a really depreciated Turbo X or – better yet – a cherry E30 M3.

  • avatar

    Given the real world going price for this; as someone mentioned already, around 35-36K, I think this is a very competitive car. Of course, I haven’t driven one, but on paper it looks like a blast. Much more equipment and performance than a 328i at the same price.

  • avatar

    This car is much more competitive at $35k. But even then–why couldn’t they take it the rest of the way?

    The stuff I’d like to see changed–steering feel, shifter feel, gear ratios, suspension tuning, exhaust note–all add little or nothing to the manufacturing cost. They just require engineers who know what they’re doing–and a company that lets them do it.

    Frayed Knot:

    Before I had the press car for a week I drove not one but two Turbo Xs at dealers. One of those had an automatic. It reacts very slowly to manual inputs. In a 9-3 Aero I drove a couple of years ago the same automatic exhibited the same shift flare that led to high repair rates in the 2007 Camry V6–which also uses this automatic.

    But, above all, I prefer all but the worst manuals to a decent automatic.


    Who gives Audi a free ride? Maybe others, but certainly not me. I’ve been complaining about their tendency to plow for years.

  • avatar

    John R, point thy browser towards Works like a charm with these over-long links.

  • avatar

    Who gives Audi a free ride? Maybe others, but certainly not me. I’ve been complaining about their tendency to plow for years

    Others do. When you hear criticisms of Acura, Saab or Volvo for selling pedestrian, front-drive chassis as luxury cars, Audi is conspicuous in it’s absence. And while Saab deserves it’s reputation as an also-ran**, Volvo and Acura do make some very good cars. Especially Acura: excepting the (rebaged Lamborghini) R8, there’s not much in Audi’s stable that Acura doesn’t have an answer for, often with better value and far less potential for trouble.

    And yet somehow Audi doesn’t get called for it. I drove an Acura RL a few years back and I couldn’t think of a single reason, excepting the wagon body, why you would pick the A6 over it, especially when dealers were willing to part with the RL for what Audi charges for the A4 3.2.

    ** I’m pissed at GM’s treatment of Saab. Pissed about the 9-3’s neutering, pissed at the “meh” implementation of the 9-2, the travesty of brand-management that was the 9-7 but mostly the utter screwjob that is the 9-5. Twelve years, at least, on the same platform as the Saturn L-Series. What a terrible way to treat a luxury brand.

    Six years ago, Saab had a shot. Now they’re a dead brand walking. I’d rather have seen GM put a bullet in them in 2002 than let them linger on and become pathetic also-ran they are today.

  • avatar

    I owned the coolest Saab in the late 90’s (1987 900 SPG). Till this day, none come close. No, it was not the fastest car. Nor the best handling. (Although it wasn’t bad in either). But, it was one of the best looking cars on the road. Even today, when I see one on the road I do a double take. Nothing looked like it! The styling was spot on. Check it out!

  • avatar
    bill h.

    FWIW, my late 80s 900S (nonturbo) Classic also had a manual with a chasm between 1st (~4.5:1) and 2nd (~2.5:1) gears. I seem to recall that it had something to do with being more suited to winter driving conditions, but I don’t know enough about tranny ratios to confirm if that would truly be the case. I do know that the car was just about unstoppable in the snow, which is also true with the old gen 2001 9-3 hatch that has replaced it.

    I don’t care what the marketing types say about this class of vehicle, the 6 cylinder is too heavy and too thirsty for my taste. I’d rather try out the 2.0T version without the Limited Edition addons.

  • avatar

    The first time I gave up reading the review midway – not because of Mr. Karesh, his writing is perfectly fine. I tuned out because I realized I was totally indifferent to the car itself – I mean, completely, colossally indifferent. Even more indifferent than I am to my wife’s story about what happened at the salon – which is really saying something.

    About once a week, I see a Saab on the road somewhere (that is how rare they seem to have become) and realize that this marque is still in business. Sad, really, because they used to make pretty good cars that were distinctive and had some purpose other than moving more units of a shared GM platform.

  • avatar

    The 9-3 is a blowout great deal if you get the “stripper”. Really.

    Once you go to the options sheet, you realize someone was thinking they were BMW, and the car comes up to the Roundel’s price. Then, not so much a great deal.

    I had a 900 Turbo Classic, and a 9-3 from the 1/2 GM and 1/2 SAAB days. I loved both cars, but they didn’t have the long lasting quality of BMW, so no way was I going to buy a new 9-3 for BMW bucks.

    Sad. The 900T broke the “rules” in that it was larger, a bit faster, and built like a brick S$%T house, except for the transmission. I loved that car.

    Saab is gone…fold it into Saturn.

  • avatar

    Doesn’t GM need cash? Sell Saab back to the Swedes, and let’s get back the unique engineering that Saab used to mean.

    Granted, considering how GM has wasted Saab away, we here — the Best and the Brightest — could probably buy it if we each chip in $100.

    Who’s in?

  • avatar

    Doesn’t GM need cash? Sell Saab back to the Swedes, and let’s get back the unique engineering that Saab used to mean.

    They’d never buy it because Saab is damaged beyond repair. Jaguar at least has prestige, Volvo has safety. Heck, Hummer and Jeep both have virility of product, if not of sales. Saab had quirkiness, originality and the ability to waste Porsches and Ferraris when already moving; now they have a lame advertising campaign and, occasionally, an ignition in a funny place.

    GM f_cked Saab the same way they did Saturn: they absorbed them back into the mothership, sucking away whatever raison d’etre they had. They nice enough cars, but they’re not special.

  • avatar

    BlueBrat :
    November 10th, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Theoretically speaking, if GM does declare bankruptcy, files Chpt. 11 or some such event by end of the year, what would happen to Saab? Could they possibly be released on their own or that isn’t possible?

    They could, but Saab is a money loser, and there’s no indication that that would improve if it was independent. Sales are low in Europe and pathetic in the US (in the US, total Saab sales each month (all models) are less than two day’s worth of Camry sales alone).

  • avatar

    TTAC has once again proved that to Enthusiasts, there is one and only one drive system that really matters; RWD. Other systems are more practical and will deal with nasty roads and weather that stop RWD dead in its tracks. But RWD offers a unique ability to steer both ends of the car, something that is cherished and valuable to those who love to drive and have great roads to drive on.

    Chevy gave us a taste of Saab in their ’04 Malibu Maxx (right down to aluminum suspension components B. Lutz told Chevy to keep). The Maxx was somewhat pricy, didn’t sell well, and was dropped – the Saab original’s a lot more dough and not all that much better.

  • avatar

    I really have no clue what this guy drove, buttttt as a owner of a TURBO X, I can say they really have no idea on how to drive a car. Can you say 95 on a 25MPH exit ramp without a tire screaming, smoke the BMW and Audi strait from the green, or better yet, how we still have not gotten the car above 150MPH because of fear. All I can say, this is a keeper, the interior is simplistic where the rest were full of stuff we did not need. As for the plastic, he needs to drive Chevy then he can say plastic. Overall, we got the car for 40K and have over 5000 miles and it still raises the hair on the back of the neck

  • avatar

    “Overall, we got the car for 40K and have over 5000 miles and it still raises the hair on the back of the neck”

    Is that because of the depreciation? ;-)

    I like Saab’s, I don’t like their reliability, that’s why I got a Subaru.

  • avatar

    I’m not sure why Saab still lends out Turbo X’s for review. They only brought something like 500 of them to the States and they were sold out long ago. Don’t they have 9-3 XWD’s?

    The originals were certainly cool in the 80’s.

  • avatar

    Good to see the Saab-bashing go unabated! This car epitomizes whats wrong with GM, Saab, hell most of the industry.

    When youve got a turbocharged 2.3L 4 cylinder that puts out 260+ hp stock, why there was ever a need to cram a V6 into any Saab is/was debatable. Releasing this car without that 4 cylinder, or the twin-turbod diesel is/was…debatable. When youre Swedish Saab, with the snow and brutal winter conditions and you go transverse front-drive, putting maximum power and weight to the wheels, why youd ever louse that up by adding two power-wasting ring and pinions to get the way overrated and 99% unneeded “all-wheel drive” is/was debatable. If anything, an electric rear-drive, not unlike the concept-car of a few years ago, would have been ground-breaking.

    Now, virtually everyday, its woulda, coulda, shoulda.

  • avatar

    I don’t really get the idea of the Saab. I know it is a good car but I can’t help thinking that it is a facelifted old european car, not a true brand new european design, Actually the chasis in that car is a derivation of the Alfa Romeo 164’s platform if my memory doesn’t deceive me, and that isn’t bad, but it is not in par with what the european car market offers today. I guess it is time for GM to up the budget on making new platforms but as always, they won’t.

  • avatar

    I like the looks of this vehicle. Since Chevrolet doesn’t see the need for a Malibu wagon anymore, a used Saab 9-3 Sportcombi may be in order. An 07 or 08 can be had in my area for under 20k.

  • avatar

    The newest Saab I’ve seen on the road is probably a ’93. I haven’t seen a Saab dealer in over 15 years… do they still sell cars in the US?

  • avatar

    I sat in a 2008 SAAB 9-3 that had 19,000 miles. It is the regular one (2.0T) for $17,000. Is that considered a good deal?

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    This article makes me sick … Beemers shouldn’t right on other brand to destroy a good car … WTF ??? for the 1 to 2 gearing ??? Well … who can be as proud as Saab for load of low en torque ??? what’s the point of shiftin 5000rpm when you have all the torque @ 2000 ??? Why use 1 and 2 close when you can pass by any other cars while other need to shift ??? This gearing has been made to have constant performance whatever speed (shorter at high speed, longer at low speed) to take advantage of all the torque of saab …. That guy is a wanna be, the site is close to it …
    Reliability ??? Fuck ! change you fuking oil guy !!! I’ve had 7 saabs (5 turbo charged) high mileage, track and teaching with it, never had gasket or reliability problem … but all the best oil and changed @ 5/6000km MAX
    The saab X received a pretty good and modern XWD … well after 20 or 30 year teaching all other car makers on car technology … it’s pretty cheap payd … just a XWD …
    On many way, saab had advance on honda, subaru, mercedes, Bmw, whatever american, volvo and more. not just 6 month but years in advance !!! on turbo charging, X safty brake lines, ACC, heated seats, ventilated seats, lights wipers, passive security, active security, shit load of low end torque (especially for 4 cyl 16v !!!) … in 1993 Saab had the same torque with a 4cyl as a 2008 Acura V6, 3000 rpm lower …

  • avatar

    Well, I am a bit late to the party here but I am going to leave my two cents. All of the Saab bashing here is pathetic. This was an extremely poor review for a great car. I have two Saabs and plan on buying a third soon. My 9-3 has 178000 miles on it and drives like a dream. No issues other than normal wear and tear. Saab is expensive because they are built to withstand nearly anything. When someone crashes a Saab, the impact of whatever it hits is spread out along the absorb impact better and to minimize damage and injury.The engine is designed to slide under the car instead of crashing into the passenger area. EVERYTHING is about protecting the passenger cell. That information comes directly from men who built this car in Sweden! Go google the youtube video showing a Saab and a BMW being dropped upside down from 8ft. The BMW smashes as flat as a pancake. You would have been able to push the door and exit the Saab. So, my guess is all of these bashers have never even so much as SAT in a Saab..and that includes the author of this poorly written review.

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