Steering wheel mounted remote audio controls, Remote controlled remote boot/hatch/rear door release, Illuminated driver and passenger vanity mirror, Front and rear reading lights, Cruise control, Cup holders for front seats and rear seats, Automatic air conditioning with fully automated climate control, Front and rear electric windows with one-touch on two windows, Leather seat upholstery, Centre armrest between front seats, Leather multi-function steering wheel with tilt adjustment and telescopic adjustment, Bi-Xenon headlights, Front fog lights, Rear view mirror, Tinted glass, Windscreen wipers, Performance: maximum speed 143 mph, 230 km/h acceleration 8.5 seconds (0-100 km/h), Electronic traction control, ABS, Isofix preparation, Brake assist system.Fully stamped service book. Motorway mileage. /
All perform well
Mostly fine layout
Space, esp Combi
Handsome, swift, sure-footed.
Cheap GM plastic
Slow steering, poor resale value, plastics.
A fully overhauled version of the original the Saab 9-3, the new models got a bolder front end and other minor exterior changes in 2007. It's no better looking, to be honest, though it does stand out more. Drab flanks are slightly at odds with dashing new looks.
The basic 1.8 is rather pedestrian while the 1.8t is only bearably quick. It's not until you get into the 2.0t and 2.0t BioPower that proper acceleration becomes available (7.5/7.9 seconds to 100km/h). The diesels are real-world quick, as is rather pointless V6 Turbo.
The 9-3's mid-life revisions have transformed the way the 9-3 handles. The chassis is balanced and playful on the throttle, the ride quality is decent and it feels planted on the road but now the steering is quicker and more talkative than before. It's a genuinely good steer these days.
The 9-3's interior is slowly getting more sub-standard GM parts (like the stereo) with the result that it's less distinctive as Saabs of old. The ergonomics suffer as a consequence, too, and while the driving position is still excellent the steering wheel remains too big.
Saab's quality should be improving but instead its stagnating and, in places, getting worse. The new GM spec stereo is particularly grim and the plastics haven't improved since the original car was launched in 2002. Refinement has improved and the seat are superb.
The 5-Star Saab 9-3 (saloon and cabrio, tested in 2002 and 2003) boasts six airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounts, seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters and ESP on all models. Cornering Xenon lights, automatic lights and wipers feature on many models.
No changes in terms of interior room. The front-seat passengers still have lots of space but it remains bit snug in the rear in terms of legroom. The Combi is a smidge roomier in the back and offers more luggage space, too, obviously, while the Cabrio has two proper kid-sized rear seats.
On the face of it the Saab 9-3 isn't bad value but come resale time you'll get stung. Running costs aren't any lower than any other premium brand so make sure someone else is paying for it. Private buyers should only consider VRT-rebate BioPower models.
Six airbags, ESP, climate control and 16-inch alloy wheels on the base model. Linear adds leather and 17-inch alloys while Linear Sport adds sportier trim. Vector Sport adds auto lights and wipers while Aero gets a bodykit and sports suspension.
The engine range looks huge but it's the same engine in various states of tune. Our favourite is the 2.0t BioPower which is more powerful than the regular 2.0t (200hp vs 175hp) and is cheaper thanks to VRT rebate. 1.9 TiD, 1.9 TTiD and 2.8T V6 engines are excellent but too costly.