Saab is a make that is often overlooked by many, but this manufacturer does produce good quality cars that come with a good range of standard equipment. The advantage of choosing Saab over other premium European brands is that they have something a little different to offer in terms of styling, and are ideal for anyone looking for a little more personality than is normally found in the majority of European sedans. Saab is now part of General Motors, so it's very easy to get parts and servicing for these cars.
Body Styles: sedan
Engines: 2.0-liter four-cylinder, 2.3-liter turbocharged
Transmissions: five-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Models: Saab 9-3 SE, Saab 9-3 Viggen
In 2002, Saab replaced the base 9-3 three and five-door models with the SE, which is a five-door model introduced at an attractive price. This year, the Viggen models gained a new carbon-fiber instrument panel and a new interior color. By 2002, Saab had been producing turbo engines for 25 years, and SE models for this year came with special embossed leather and cloth seats, and leather door panels.
The exterior of the Saab 9-3 is quite different from other cars in this class, and is immediately recognizable as being a Saab. The SE models are built on a 102.6-inch wheelbase, and have an overall length of 182.3 inches. The hatchback version is 56.2 inches high, while the convertible is 56.8 inches high. The Viggen is slightly shorter, and measures 180.9 inches. Both the SE and Viggen convertible models have a power folding roof. The Saab is fitted with 16-inch wheels, and there's an optional body kit.
The interior of the Saab 9-3 is surprisingly spacious. There are 108.7 cubic feet of space in the hatchback versions of this car, and the cargo space is 21.7 cubic feet. If the rear seat is folded down, there are 46 cubic feet of cargo capacity, which is quite amazing for a car of this size. The convertible models have trunk space of 12.5 cubic feet. It's a midsize car, so there's adequate room for five adults to sit comfortably. All models have GM's satellite-based communication system fitted as standard, and premium services allow access to e-mail, news headlines, and voice activated phone calls and information from the Internet.
SE models come with an eight-way power driver’s seat, bucket front seats, and a split-folding rear seatback. Other features included remote power door locks, power-folding and heated mirrors, and power windows. Passenger comfort is ensured with air conditioning and interior air filtration, and there are front cup holders. In addition, there is wood trim on the dashboard, and the doors, shift knob and steering wheel are all leather trimmed. There's a single CD player stereo radio with four speakers. There is a premium package available for the SE which includes a better quality audio system, sport chassis, and full leather seats.
Viggen models for this year come with eight-way power passenger and driver's seat, and a heated driver’s seat. The driver’s seat has memory for three separate drivers. The seats are covered in leather, as is the steering wheel and shift knob. This model comes with climate control and interior air filtration, and has power mirrors, heated mirrors, power windows, and remote power door locks.
Performance & Handling
The SE models are fitted with a turbocharged, two-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 205 horsepower, while the Viggen is fitted with a 2.3-liter, turbocharged engine. The SE models are fitted with either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic transmission, but the Viggens only come with manual gearboxes.
The Viggen is very much a high-performance car. ?Viggen? is Swedish for thunderbolt, but the car is really named after a fighter jet. Both models give very good acceleration, but the Viggen really is quite a lot of fun to drive. Both models have precise handling, and although the suspension is firm, the ride is still very comfortable. Saabs are known for being solid, reliable, and very safe. They're not a brand that appeals to everyone, but enthusiasts find they give very personal driving experience, and that the stylish touches are very easy to get used to.
Saabs are known for being very safe cars, and standard features include anti-lock brakes, active head restraints system, and side-impact airbags.
EPA Fuel Economy
Saab 9-3 SE: 20/30 mpg city/highway
Saab 9-3 Viggen: 17/26 mpg city/highway
- Comfortable and spacious interior
- Powerful engines
- Quirky styling
You Won't Like
- Controls aren't always easy to use
A great Swedish alternative to other European sedans.
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