By on December 20, 2011

To be clear, we aren’t talking about the next brand to linger on long past its kill-by date, pitting the brand loyalty of its fans against common sense for an agonizing eternity. No, now that Saab is dead and its warranty coverage has been suspended [per Automotive News [sub]], Saabophiles need an alternative. TTAC commenter Pig_Iron writes:

Now that SAAB is gone, who is the new SAAB? By that I mean, who makes the best winter handling front driver in coupe, sedan and wagon avail with man trans?

Your pal,


My answer: Buick’s Regal. It’s a rebadged Opel, available in several states of turbo tune, it’s got a distinctively European feel inside (firm seats, dark cockpit), and a fine-handling front-drive chassis. What more could you want from a Saab? On the other hand, what Saabista is going to buy from GM now that The General has cruelly slain mercifully euthanized their beloved brand [PDF on the definitive causes of death here]? So, if GM is out… possibly some kind of Volvo? An Audi? What say you, Best And Brightest?

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77 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: Who Is The New Saab?...”

  • avatar

    The 9-5 Aero is sporting the powertrain the Regal should have (and does have in Europe) and the cars are of similar quality inside and out (but the 9-5 feels nicer and more vaultlike overall) and the Saab is definitely sportier. I still don’t think Saabophiles will go with a Regal though.

    Volvo is the most similar, but isn’t anywhere near as cool or obscure as Saab plus they have the taint of Chinese ownership lording over them.

    Subaru though Japanese is surprisingly similar in brand image and spirit as Saab, they are the most likely candidate to get some former Saab customers if they are buying new.

    But let’s face it, from what I can tell online most Saab diehards either couldn’t or wouldn’t buy new or late model Saabs so they’ll still be buying and selling the old ones they worship so much.

  • avatar

    Sure, the turbo Regal wouldn’t be a bad call, assuming that they can put aside the grudge.

    A Volvo would obviously have that whole Sino-Swedish thing going for it.

    An Audi A4 Avant (wagon) would have the FWD bias (and some of the same repair bills.)

    Subarus are quirky. Saab fanatics are suckers for quirky, aren’t they?

  • avatar

    The only brand with any “quirky” cachet left to it is Subaru. (And even they are cranking out “vanilla” at an alarming rate) The Impreza line pretty much covers it. While not FWD, you can get a turbo, stick-shift, and wagon.

  • avatar

    Volvo? If I were a Saab owner, Volvo is what I’d be looking at when it comes time for another car.

  • avatar
    Alex L. Dykes

    Volvo FTW. Yet the SAAB fans may find a decent interior too overpowering, they may need to pull off some interior panels and throw some bolts in the dash to feel more at home.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Definitely Subaru.

    Subaru conquered much of the demographic that Saab tried to pursue. All wheel drive and and sticks aplenty have been their calling card for well over a decade now.

    You can make a case for Audi, Volvo, and pretty much any brand that offers all-wheel-drive and at least some sporting pretensions. But the ‘wagon’ variable again favors Subaru. Volvo no longer offers a wagon and Audi sells them in very limited quantities.

    • 0 avatar

      No stick in the current USDM Forester XT, no turbo-4 option in the Outback (it’s useful at altitude), no stick for the 3.6 engine, and no Legacy wagon in the US.

      All these give me a sad.

    • 0 avatar

      Subaru built Saabs once.

      But Subaru isn’t the new Saab at all. Saab stuck to building Saabs. Saab is in bankruptcy.

      Subaru’s lineup now consists of the Subaru CR-V, the Subaru AWD Camry, and the Subaru Santa Fe. Not a Saab in sight. Not a manufacturer incentive, either.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    I’d look to the VW empire.

    A Jetta Sportwagon seems to be the most Saab-like product from there. Stick available throughout the lineup, lots of cargo capacity, good handling, and front drive. Goes down the road with Teutonic panache and is still based on the “old Jetta”, not the new Americanized one.

    Plus, they’re a great deal. I know a guy who just picked a new 2.5 liter automatic up for under $21k new in Boston. One might find a bankruptcy-discounted Saab wagon for that price, but have fun with the warranty and parts/service.

  • avatar

    Craigslist > SEARCH > CARS & TRUCKS – BY OWNER > MAX PRICE = $5000.

    That’s the ‘new’ SAAB.

    Too bad no one else imports high-MSRP, low-residual maintenance moneypits anymore. Unless Alfa wants to step it up.

  • avatar

    I agree with the Buick Regal on spec. However, it’s got one killer problem: There’s no way the Buick nameplate will ever be odd, quirky, strange, or just downright weird.

    In fact, that point alone rules out any current American nameplate, no matter how odd a car they produce. Saab is not just a set of specs, or a car built to a list of specifications. It’s a car that has your friends giving you the, “you drive a WHAT?”

    You want a new Saab? You want something that’ll just appeal to the guy who doesn’t want to see himself coming down the street every 35 miles. Which means, to get a proper replacement for a Saab in the US, that car is going to have to be built as a Dacia, Skoda, Renault, Citroen, Lancia or possibly a Peugeot. Building it under the moniker of one of the Eastern Bloc marques might work, too.

    Sorry, Subaru lost it’s quirkiness when they came up with the Outback. They’re more mainstream than Saab ever was.

  • avatar

    Didn’t Suburu become the new Saab back in the early 90s?

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Well if GM would just sell us those Buicks in full OPEL high performance trim I’d agree with you.

    How bout Mazda with snow tires? Oh wait they stopped selling the quickly body styles (4 door hatch/wagon) and stopped the 6cyl stick option.

  • avatar

    As a 20+ year Saab owner in need of a new ride I have cast my lot with Mini. I just ordered a base countryman with the manual in Surf Blue with a white top and beige leather interior. I haven’t been this excited about buying a car in years. In fact, this is my first new car.

    When I had a house with a garage that was equipped with a large compressor and great set of tools my M.O. Was to buy a 50k mile Saab and do all the work myself and hold onto to it for a long time. I found that the 9-5 was extremely easy to work on and parts were not outrageous. I have not paid someone else to fix my cars in 15 years. It was fun while it lasted and very gratifying.

    Now that I have sold the house and live year round on my sailboat in Boston that model no longer works.

  • avatar

    Subaru’s been out-Saabing Saab for a long time. The spots in the parking lots on college campuses, REIs and New England driveways where a Saab used to be are occupied by Subarus now.

    And unless Subaru can manage to keep the iconoclast/practical image going, it’s looks like it’s eventually going to go the way of Saab, too.

  • avatar

    The closest I’ve come to owning a Saab is sort of half interest in a $50 900 ice racer that never raced due to 12″ of water on the ice….but here goes anyway.

    The closest Saabophile I know bought a WRX wagon back in the fall of 02 when a car payment and a warranty looked better than trying to keep something else running (I bought a Legacy a couple months after…and still have it, I can be way too pragmatic and practical) and he is still running it. His wife has a used 9-5 wagon, and his rally car is an 84 900.

    I guess Subaru is the closest out there. I can’t think of anything available for a FWD import snow-worthy torque monster. My personal backup plan for a second car if my Legacy needs more than a year’s car payments in repairs (me doing the labor): either a used MINI or maybe a new FIAT 500…

    A Saab 96 still rates in the top 5 of the coolest cars I’ve ever driven, and that includes an Escort Cosworth….

    • 0 avatar

      My wife also went with a black ’02 Subaru WRX wagon w/ manual when she sold her black ’94 Saab turbo hatchback w/ manual, and she’s been thrilled with it, though she misses the Saab’s heated seats.

      Personally, I’ve gone with Audi for the last decade or so, as I prefer my cars a little more upscale, but dollar for dollar, the WRX can’t be beat.

      As you might figure from my Avatar, I’m a former Buick owner too. Frankly, in my neighborhood in Philly, a new Buick would would be deemed a quirkier choice than most of the other cars being mentioned! Though the Saabs have mostly been replaced with Subies and Audis, it’s the Prius that has taken over the neighborhood. One fellow bought a Volt recently – that may prove to be the quirkiest choice!

  • avatar

    There is no real replacement for Saab. Subarus are just not upscale enough. Nor are VWs. The hardcore will just keep buying used ones, which are going to be even bigger bargains now. The folks who bought new Saabs will buy all sorts of other things.

    Personally, I went from an ’08 Saab 9-3 Sport Combi with a 6spd stick to an ’11 BMW 328i Sport Wagon, also with 6spd stick. Sans AWD, no less. MORE than quirky enough, me thinks. One of my Saab-loving buddies bought a new Acura TSX wagon recently.

    I’m thinking of picking up another classic 900 Turbo, just because.

    • 0 avatar

      Saab? Upscale?

      I suppose if enough people repeat it, someone will start to believe it.

      • 0 avatar

        Give me a break. Certainly Saab was not BMW or MB, despite thier desires. But they are CERTAINLY upscale compared to Subaru. The new 9-5 could have been a contender certainly. Saabs only issue was that MSRP was $10K too high across the board. But they were still on par with the likes of Acura. Or where Audi was 10-15 years ago. Upscale, but not top tier by any stretch.

        I had a ride in my boss’s brand-new loaded 2012 Imprezza Sport last night. Now way is it in the same class as a Saab 9-3X, which would be the closest equivalent. And the 9-3 is a nearly 10yo platform now.

      • 0 avatar

        A rebadged Impreza is what Saab sold as the 9-2X, but you’d like to draw comparisons between the 9-3X and the Impreza because they’re the “closest equivalents.”

        I see.

      • 0 avatar

        He’s obviously speaking of ‘real’ SAABs not the sloppy GM badge jobs.

      • 0 avatar

        The Impreza interior quality is on par with the Corolla. Certainly below a Mazda 3.

      • 0 avatar

        Saab is not upscale, just overpriced. Subaru performance minus the reliability at Audi price. And that’s why Saab went bankrupt.

  • avatar

    In addition, some of my Saabophile friends say new GM can die in a fire, they’d rather walk than buy one of their products…although I can understand GM’s unwillingness to give up their intellectual property (not that the law has stopped many Chinese companies from doing just that anyway…)

  • avatar

    As someone who bought a 95 Saab three years ago and have been surprised at our trouble free time together I think some are missing an important attribute namely the hatchback, that’s why I bought one.

  • avatar

    You can get a Buick Regal wagon with a stick? I was completely unaware. Cool!

    Also, I think the 9-5 could make a very nice Electra.

    • 0 avatar

      Sadly GM could easily have a Buick Regal wagon with a stick with minimal effort, if they wanted to. Also 5-door hatchback. These are available as Opel Insignia, just slap Buick grille and badges on them.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      Sadly, while there is a stick, there is no wagon body style for the US market or I would be seriously considering placing an order for a GS-level cruiser.

  • avatar

    Agreeing with almost everyone else here: Subaru.

    But what about Acura? I’m thinking of the TSX, especially the wagon… everything about it (except the aesthetics) would make a decent Saab 9-3. I don’t have much insight into mind of Saabistas, though, so perhaps I’m way off.

    • 0 avatar

      Rumor has it the TSX is going away next MY, in favor of the Civic -AHEM- I mean ILX…

    • 0 avatar

      Quirky, winter worthy FWD hatchback (big wheels and wheel arches): The Crosstour. It even looks like a bloated, stretched, jacked up 900. No stick or turbo, and waayyy too heavy and clumsy for serious three (or even two in a pinch:) ) wheel cornering, but not nearly as bad a car as some insist it is. It even matches Saab’s sales numbers.

  • avatar

    I owned and enjoyed a 1999 Saab 9-3, since it was new. While I was never a huge Saab fan, I liked the car quite a lot and liked that it was different from the mainstream. Over the last several months I decided that it was time to move on to something newer and better. I did not consider another Saab due to the corporate troubles, even though I liked the new 9-3 wagons. However, I ultimately bought a used (CPO) Audi A6 wagon. Not too quirky, but still different from the mainstream (as a wagon, at least in North America). I like it a lot so far. Definitely a step up from the Saab.

    So Audis are the new Saab for me. I also like Minis a lot, but they don’t meet the practicality threshold for my circumstances.

  • avatar

    Maybe these guys in Princeton, MN have it right…

    • 0 avatar

      The owner, Chuck, is a great guy, he has a lot of family in the operation and they are great. Very odd to see non-Saab/Subie vehicles for sale. I was a customer when he made the switch from all Saab to Saab/Subie, that would have been seven or so years ago.

      • 0 avatar

        Haven’t had the pleasure of meeting the guys, but one of our receptionists at my dealer a few years back made the mistake of buying a 900 convertible that had some engine issues. They called it, and I quote, a ‘bastard car’.

        To my knowledge, this is the last ‘independent’ dealership left in the state of MN. Subie and Saab seemed to be the last ‘major’ automakers to allow such a thing without corporate interference.

        Might have to pay a visit to them for my next ride…:)

  • avatar

    Kizashi. Especially if Suzuki releases a turbo version.

    • 0 avatar

      Inspired choice. Although it could use a key between the seats to go with the turbo.

    • 0 avatar

      Lets be hones Suzuki is cool, but it is probably the next dead brand walking…I don’t know of any dealers in Southern California.

    • 0 avatar

      This is my choice too.
      The Kizashi scores Saably points over the Bu-gal in a couple of different ways:
      1) the roof has hard points for BOLTING a bike rack, like a Saab. This is practical, and being practical is Saably.
      2) While no turbo is available yet, one is supposed to be coming. Saab also offered non-turbo models with a stick.
      3) Suzuki does have some kind of quirky things – the SX4 arguably out-Subie’s the Subaru in some ways (Buick has nothing like it at the moment), and it too is available with a stick. The Swift Sport, if they would sell it in the US is supposed to be very good (Fifth Gear in the UK compared it favorably to an Abarth 500 and a Mini S). And what’s nuttier than their Tokyo auto show presence this year?
      4) the dash. The Suzie (like the Subaru, granted) uses blue/green lighting for the tach/speedo cluster, with red lighting for the radio & hvac. This isn’t night-panel, but it’s close. The Regal, as far as I can tell, is blue/green all the way.
      5) also the dash. And gloves. In cold mornings, I think the Kizashi’s buttons would be easier to push with gloves on than would the Regal’s.
      6) Rear seat vents. Suzuki has ’em. Subie’s typically don’t. Regal does.
      7) rear seat pass through (same as #6).

      For the real kicker, please note that Suzuki is engaged in a public battle with a much larger automaker that’s trying to control it — if that doesn’t seal the deal nothing will.

      Honorable mentions do go to Subaru, the Regal, and Mini. Precious little else though, I think.

  • avatar

    Hate to break all your Saab hating hearts but…there is a very good chance that someone might scoop up Saab now that there is no EIB Debt, or any debt for that matter. The Chinese are going to meet with the government this week. Someone came in and scooped up Chrysler…why not Saab?
    I did go check the Buicks….but they are GM and are just too busy inside…Someone was not taught about the meaning of the word “restraint” when it comes to those interiors.

  • avatar
    bill h.

    Some sort of Euro sportwagon is probably where I’d like to eventually go. Preferably a plug-in series hybrid with a diesel as the fuel-burner. That could be a few years from now since our newest Saab is a 2010, so I’m hoping the option will be there by then. I’m open-minded as to what marque.

  • avatar

    Alfa Romeo, obviously (get on the stick, Sergio – those Fiat studios are starving for product!) Failing that, a return of Peugeot (doing business just south of us in Mexico, though its models are generally a generation behind the Euro versions) or its corporate cousin Citroen (won the Mexican Rally earlier this year in a DS3!)

  • avatar
    Seán Moloney

    Who is the new Saab? I don’t know, all I know is that I’ll probably default to Volkswagen or at least a brand in the VW group. Unless of course the unlikely event that Saab is sold out of bankruptcy comes about…

  • avatar
    The Dad

    Everyone saying Subaru: Have you actually driven both a Saab and a Subaru? They drive nothing alike. After the demise of my fifth Saab, I was sorely tempted to go Subaru until I actually drove one. Where Saabs are nimble, Subies are ponderous. Not to mention, it seems like the stick is limited to the boy racer models these days.

    I ended up replacing my 2006 9-5 with a 2008 Infiniti EX35. The nimble feel is very Saab-like, at least to me. Would I prefer that it had a turbocharged engine and a stick, and got better mileage? Of course. But the combination of practicality and driving fun is as close as I could come.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      My first car in high school was a classic 900 and I’ve owned a ’98 Outback, and my wife owned a ’00 Outback when I married her.

      You must be driving Tribecas, because the Outbacks and Legacies I’ve driven felt light, nimble, and stuck to the road a lot better than the old Saabs. Plus, the 5-speed gearbox on an old Saab 900 is extremely notchy and awful.

      • 0 avatar
        The Dad

        Drove the current four-banger Outback with stick and the six with slushbox. Drove the old Legacy wagons with both. Did try the Tribeca a year ago, which was a total dog compared with the MDX we bought and the CX-9 that was a runner up.

  • avatar

    The problem Saab faced is that most of their customers already left for “the next Saab”.

    Those that bought Saabs because they were safe and technologically advanced switched to Audi and Volvo.

    Those that bought Saabs because they were good in the snow and cold switched to Subaru and Volvo.

    Those that bought Saabs because they were wicked fast and sporty switched to VW.

    Those that bought Saabs to be different switched to Subaru, Kia and Mazda.

    Those that bought Saabs because they wanted Saabs are SOL.

  • avatar

    It’s definitely Subaru, however they are lacking the design qualities that made Saab’s interesting.

    Volvo just never managed that aesthetic.

    Saab is a brand I’m going to miss, it was on my short list of cars when I came back to the USA to look into.(I was figuring on a killer deal) Nothing else I see out there really fills the gap that Saab leaves.

    Having said that, right now I don’t see anything in the near future to really take it’s place which in the scheme of things is probably a good thing.

  • avatar

    You’ve got to innovate or die. It’s business 101. Audi at one time was pretty much the only luxury kid on the block with AWD. Now everybody except Jaguar has it. If Audi was still trying to sell its cars just on that point, they’d be doomed. Audi now sells on style, and being the “thinking man’s” alternative to the default German choices.

    Saab didn’t innovate. They’re dead.

  • avatar

    I’ve been driving SAAB since 1983, including about six years in the mid 80’s having them as demos. I started off with very used examples; two went well over 400k. As my means improved over the years I purchased the best examples I could afford, one new in 97, my last three have been CPO. We currently have two 08 93’s. Reliability has been at least as good as any Japanese vehicle I am aware of, and running/parts costs have been surprisingly low. Not being in “SAAB Country” dealer support is the worst issue, but there is always a way.

    Despite the GMification of the brand, I have always found SAAB extremely rewarding to drive and own. A 93 900 saved my father’s life when a car load of kids ran a red light and hit his driver’s door at 80kph, (according to the police report) he was able to sort of walk away, I think the survivors of the crash are still picking glass out of their foreheads. (Hyundai Excel)

    If forced to switch brands, I think Mercedes will pick up sales in Europe and many will move to Prius else ware. The Prius is a nicely sized vehicle and the new V is very wagon like. It may be our next vehicle.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    There’s three stages of Saab’s brief product history:
    1. Small economy car that’s totally different from air-cooled VW Beetle, but not much bigger, with an interesting engine. (1950s & 1960s)
    2. Plain European hatchback, slightly peculiar engineering with a reputation for reliability. (1960s – 1980s)
    3. Peculiar designs, slightly luxurious, somewhat sporting, slightly peculiar engineering and needs no explanation. (1980s to death).

    And throughout most of this, a racing heritage that was focused.

    Other than Mazda, now with Skyactive and an approach to reducing vehicular weight, there’s not really anything else out there, other than maybe Suzuki.

    But the fact is, there will never be another Saab, so don’t bother trying to look for one.

    • 0 avatar

      – thanks for the sad truth overview. however, 60 isn’t actually a `brief’ run. I’m also behind MALLTHUS’ point[s]. sold my 900 for my Coupe with no regrets. drove a few previous – it was my first. I miss that practical, efficient, capable little car. no denying the marque’s proud rally heritage …

  • avatar

    I saw a black/black Regal outside of my office a couple weeks ago and will freely admit that it was surprisingly good looking. I would like to try the manual version; although its not AWD, with good snow tires, you don’t need AWD, really.

    I’ve been driving Saabs since 1980, have owned about 20 of them of every model pre and post GM (including vintage ones) and still own this unrestored ’80 900 Turbo 5 door with 44k miles that was made during the halcyon days of Saab. Saab had many innovations that we take for grated and are incorporated into most of today’s cars. I’ll say that in my experience, those ideas were sometimes poorly executed, but they were fun to drive, unique, safe cars even during the GM era. The GM era cars toward the end were extremely trouble free and well executed, unlike the 99s and C900s I’d owned since about new.

    I have owned several Tahoes, including a 2011 which I got after I traded my ’09 9-3 wagon with AWD in August ’11 (I even had equity in it!) which was also the best Saab I had ever owned. The Tahoe does everything well, but is no sports car. If I get the urge, I hop into my C900 and take it for a spin to the local car show to keep it lithe.

    As for a replacement Saab, I’d get a Rangie Evoque…4 cylinder turbocharged engine, AWD, 5 doors. Gets decent mileage too. I’ve driven one and its pretty nice. A bit pricey for what it is, but a competent package.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    A rebadged Impreza is what Saab sold as the 9-2X, but you’d like to draw comparisons between the 9-3X and the Impreza because they’re the “closest equivalents.”

    I think you missed his point. Saab was considered near luxury, much like Acura and perhaps the Volvo of 10 years ago. The 2012 Impreza has little in relation to the Saab 9-2X of 8 years ago.

    The 9-2X was GM’s attempt to give SAAB a low-mid $20k entry level. Personally, it made perfect sense if they couldn’t create a SAAB from scratch. I looked at one closely during the firesale of 2005, but sadly couldn’t fit. Two friends have them (one aero, one non) and love them. They certainly look better than the Subaru.

  • avatar

    Kia Optima

    Looks very SAAB like to me.

  • avatar

    I agree. There will be no single “replacement” for Saab.
    That was an era now gone, and Saab aficionados will (must) find relief in various brands depending on need: Subaru, Kizashi, Buick Regal, VW offerings, Mini, etc.
    Some things in life can’t have 1-to-1 replacements. Saabs were just too unique (or too weird, depending on ones’ point of view).

  • avatar

    You know what’s missing here?

    Unless I missed it, there’s no posts in the thread that says, “I bought a new Saab sometime in the last 24 months.”

    Can’t think of a more accurate epitaph.

    • 0 avatar

      Good point, but I did buy a new 2009 9-3 Aero Sport Combi (with the 280 HP V6 and XWD)in August 2009 but fortunately traded out of it before it was too late. It was an fantastic car. Too small for us when we got a second black lab and rear seat room was always wanting. I think my C900 has more rear leg room and is about as big in the hatch area. The 9-5 wagon would have been of great interest but the Company was in water far too deep when it was being shown for enough public interest to develop.

    • 0 avatar
      bill h.

      Did you read mine? Didn’t think so.

      Of course, one can’t win with the Armchair Commentariat here–if you like Saabs and didn’t buy a new one in the past two years, you’re partly responsible for the brand going down the tubes.

      But if you did buy one, you’re “SOL” because you actually paid money for a brand that was going down the tubes.

      Having bought new AND used ones over the past quarter century (right up to earlier this year), I plead guilty on all counts.

  • avatar

    Came here to say “Subaru”, but it looks like that’s been thoroughly covered. Why limit yourself to front drive if you’re looking for winter handling – this sounds like a weak cop-out to avoid the obvious answer. Do a quick search on YouTube for “Subaru + snow” for proof of the snowy pudding.

  • avatar

    I’m on my sixth Saab (’04 9-5 Aero) and I plan on keepng it a very long time. With only 89K miles, it is in its infancy. However, if I had to buy something else (other than a used Saab), I find the Countryman, A3 and Jetta wagon interesting.

    The thing is, as others have posted, there will never be another Saab. My 9-5, like my 9000s before and OG 9-3s before that, is an efficient, fast, utilitarian and durable car that’s built like a tank and pretty to look at. The interior ergonimics, far from being “quirky”, are eminently logical. Its preternatural ability in the snow is a godsend in New England.

    The pull of a Saab for me isn’t a laundry list of attributes however. I feel a bond with the Saabs I own. They feel “right” to me. I’ve owned Honda, BMW, Porsche, Land Rover, VW, Toyota, Mazda and none of them speak to me like the Saabs I’ve owned. I’m not sure another manufacturer can capture that.

    • 0 avatar

      If you’re feeling a “bond” with Saabs that even the mighty Porsche and BMW cannot arouse, then that makes my point above. There is a unique character to that car that will not easily be replaced. I have heard other Saab owners say similar things. I’m a BMW guy myself, and so never got fully involved with Saabs, other than incidental driving. But I once (1960’s) had a beloved VW Beetle that gave a similar sense of unique “bonding”….

  • avatar

    Sounds like Subaru’s Advanced Tourer hybrid wagon concept could be a likely candidate, if it makes it to market anytime soon, with at least some of the concept’s style intact.

    For some photos of it in the flesh:

  • avatar

    If going for a Regal be prepared to dish out a grand or so for snow tires to replace the over sized 18 and 19″ so called all season rubber which are terrible in the Winter and act like ice skates. I have owned cars with 14-16″ tires and they were fabulous in the Winter months and those were factory all season with tread wear. This big switch to massive rubber band tires is not doing the average consumer any favors. Ironically the new 2012 e-assist version of the Regal uses much more sensible 17″ tires for better mileage and probably better Winter traction.

  • avatar

    Not exactly answering the question, but the most
    Saab-like vehicle on the market is the Mazdaspeed3:

    – torquey turbo-4
    – FWD
    – defining dynamic characteristic is torque steer
    – good handler
    – practical hatchback
    – peculiar styling (in the current iteration, anyway – the original was a looker)

  • avatar

    Some Saab-like vehicles?

    I took a Kia Optima SX (Turbo) for a spin the other day, to review on my website. (Link here: This sorta seems like what the new 9-3 shoudl’ve felt like. VERY high tech, reasonably price (31k loaded? Really?), and small engine all ate up with boost in a sea of bigger ones. This to me is the 900T to the 325i/4000Q/Volvos of the 80’s, except to mainstream cars today. It fits into the basic size parameters of a family sedan, but really they don’t make other family sedans this fun/satisfying to drive. There’s no manual, but the auto is quite good (paddle shifters are fun!), and no hatchback. But, comfortable seats, interesting interior, turbo power, practical, priced below stuff it competes against (I see it as going up to the A4, TSX, 328i, etc) – quite Saab like.


    Audi A3/ VW GTI: 2.0L Turbo, FWD, hatchback, manual, heated seats. Sounds like a Saab to me.
    MazdaSpeed3: too boyracer to really FEEL like a Saab, but most of the mechanical formula is there. Interior isn’t really nice/interesting, though.
    Suzuki Kizashi: if they go through with the rumored turbocharged engine, anyway. This is a surprisingly satisfying car, and a great value, with a nice interior. But no hatch.
    Next-generation Subaru WRX: (see note below on Subaru to Saab). The new Impreza is a lot lighter and trimmer than the old one, and apparently the interior is nicer. If they put a DI-Turbo 2.0L in it, we’ll be closer to a Saab. Previous WRX’s weren’t anywhere near GM era Saabs for refinement.
    Mini Clubman/Countryman S Manual: the regular Mini, I think is too small to woo Saab buyers. Part of the appeal is practicality, and the Mini has none. But the longer Clubman perhaps could, with the funky interior, small but torquey turbo motor, manuals, etc.
    Regal Turbo/ Regal GS: I agree with Ed here. Of course it feels like a Saab. The reason it’s so good is how much Saab there is in it.

    As per Saab and Subaru: I don’t see a lot of commonality. Subaru seems to market this “rough and tumble active lifestyle” personality, and it shows through in how not refined at all their cars are. They feel agricultural, in a good way – like a Japanese Lada Niva, like they’ll run forever. Stuff just warbles and vibrates and such. But unless we’re talking about Saabs from the 70’s, no Subaru interior is up to par. I think some people who don’t know/drive Saabs think the appeal is the FWD/manual/turbo, but largely it’s the interior. A driver-centric center stack, concise not overly-ornate gauges, the most comfortable seats out there, etc – none of these are attributes Subaru does. About the only commonality I see between the two are turbochargers, cargo space, and poor weather ability. And again, that’s not a rare combo.

    Volvos? Nah. Don’t see Saab guys driving Volvos. Imagine if Chevy went under; would bowtie boys start driving Fords? or would they buy used Chevys? Exactly.

  • avatar

    Thank you Ed, and the B&B for all the great suggestions and insights. Thanks to Paul for the nice eulogy. Farewell SAAB, I will miss you.

  • avatar
    Mr. K

    Subie to be sure, but I think some Zoom Zoom needs to be in the mix too…

  • avatar

    RDX. A weird looking automatic turbo 5 door avail with FWD and sells in small numbers. Turbo lag but plenty of power, nice seats, a value play in its category despite manufacturer desire to compare it to a BMW, which consumers do not. Sound a little familiar? Sorry Honda…

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