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2008 Saab 9-3

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2008 Saab 9-3 Review

Welcomes a change to this up-to-date entry-level luxury vehicle.

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview

The 2008 Saab 9-3 is a redesigned entry-level luxury sedan, wagon, and convertible. It is available as a hardtop, a convertible, and in sport designs. The new design is very modern but does not fit in with the mainstream design aesthetic displayed by the competition. The interesting design hides a few disappointing secrets. The luxury sedan is meant to have pristine drivability, but the Saab 9-3 has middle ground handling and power. The XWD system is a nice feature, however, giving the driver a lot of feedback. This is a cheaper luxury sedan that delivers in many ways but drivers may have to forgive the somewhat ho-hum drive feel.

The Range

Body Styles: entry-level luxury sedan, wagon, and convertible
Engines: 2.0-liter turbocharge, 2.8-liter V-6
Transmissions: six-speed manual, five-speed automatic, six-speed automatic
Models: Saab 9-3 2.0T, Aero, Saab 9-3 2.0T SportCombi, Saab 9-3 Aero SportCombi, Saab 9-3 2.0T Convertible, Saab 9-3 Aero Convertible, Saab 9-3 Turbo X, Saab 9-3 Turbo X SportCombi

What's New

The 2008 Saab 9-3 has received an exterior refresh this year. Body trim is monochromatic, a new exterior feature. January 2008 models have the option of an all-wheel-drive system for the Aero sedans. The Aero sedans receive a powerful turbocharge V-6 engine. A limited edition version of the sedan Saab 9-3 is also available this year, called the Turbo X. Only 600 models will be available on the U.S. market. They are larger, black, and have 18-inch wheels. The Turbo X sedan also has a rear spoiler.

Exterior

The 2008 Saab 9-3 is available as a wagon, sedan, and convertible models. The hood is rounder this year, and a new grille is installed. The exterior molding has also received a redesign.

Interior

The interior of the 2008 Saab 9-3 is fairly well designed. The ergonomics are pleasant, and the front seats are quite comfortable. Unfortunately, many of the materials in the vehicle do not fit a vehicle of this class. Room is fairly substantial in most of the models, but the back seats in the convertible models are a bit too tiny for adult passengers. The Turbo X wagon and sedans are a bit better, offering lots of room, a longer wheelbase, and bolstered seats that do not move when thrown into a turn. Cargo space is larger than most in its class, however, offering 15 cubic feet of trunk space in the sedan and a whipping 12.4 cubic feet for the convertible models. The wagon has even more, offering 29.7 cubic feet of space when the back seat is still up, and 72.3 cubic feet when the back seat is folded away.

Performance & Handling

The 2008 Saab 9-3 has three engine choices. The 2.0T models receive a two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 210 horsepower with 221 lb-ft of torque. The front-wheel-drive Aero models receive a turbocharge 2.8-liter V-6 engine that produces 255 horsepower with 258 lb-ft of torque. The all-wheel drive Aero sedans have a tweaked version of the 2.8-liter V-6 that produces 280 horsepower with 295 lb-ft of torque.

The regular four-cylinder and the turbocharged V-6 have excellent pull off at the start line, but the performance of the engine is nothing special for its class. The special boost on the V-6 for the all-wheel-drive Aero is a lot more exciting, giving a lot of great low-end response. The automatic transmission is a bit of a problem though, sometimes having trouble finding the ""D"" setting when downshifting. The manual transmission is a lot better, but sometimes feels a little less sporty than some would like. The vehicle does feel smooth and confident when the pavement is cared for, but the suspension does not perform well over bumps.

Safety

The 2008 Saab 9-3 has a lot of safety features including standard anti-lock brakes, stability control, OnStar telematics, active head restraints, and front-seat side airbags. The wagon and sedan SportCombi models receive full-curtain side airbags, and convertibles receive a rollover detection and alert system. Generally, the Saab 9-3 performed well in impact tests performed by the NHTSA and the IIHS.

EPA Fuel Economy

Saab 9-3 2.0T: 19/29 mpg city/highway
Saab 9-3 Aero: 16/26 mpg city/highway
Saab 9-3 2.0T SportCombi: 19/29 mpg city/highway
Saab 9-3 Aero SportCombi: 16/26 mpg city/highway
Saab 9-3 Convertible 2.0T: 18/27 mpg city/highway
Saab 9-3 Convertible Aero: 16/26 mpg city/highway
Saab 9-3 Turbo X: 16/24 mpg city/highway
Saab 9-3 Turbo X SportCombi: 16/24 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Quiet ride
  • Great steering
  • All-wheel-drive system on the Aero
  • Front seats comfortable and supporting
  • Lots of body styles

You Won't Like

  • Subpar interior materials
  • Body roll on Aero model
  • Engines not very exciting

Sum Up

Welcomes a change to this up-to-date entry-level luxury vehicle.

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