I got a new ride!
Well, for the day atleast... anyway, I have brought my 9-3 in for it's 90,000 mile scheduled service session, and since I got my Saab from one of the salesguys there, we get along pretty well, or as far as I can tell anyway, lol.
When I told him that I doubt that I would have a way to get around town, to work and school during the day my car was in service, I asked if it would be possible to use one of the cars, preferably used, for the time I needed it. He said sure, just let him know when and he'll take care of the rest.
Well, today was that day. I sent my baby in for her first major check-up under my ownership, and I got to use, in her stead, a brand spanking new, 2006 9-3SS with a moonroof, xenon lamps, heated seats, and automatic tranny! I was expecting the guy to give me the keys to the old 93 9000 or 00 9-3 they had on the lot, but man, was I wrong!
Now, since I had finally had some decent seat time I can tell everyone what I think of the newest version of the 9-3.
Let's see, exterior vs my 9-3. I absolutely love the new front fascia compared to my model year. It looks similar, yet also brand new as well. The new 9-3 does also seem noticeably shorter in hight, but that could be just me, the cars color(silver) and the ambient lighting playing tricks on me. I do like the hatchback styling of my 9-3 rather than the sedan, but I'm sure if the new 9-3 came in hatch form, I would be obsessed with it to the point of being institutionalized in a sanitarium!
Interior vs my 9-3. Due my cars age, obvious things are going to make the newer model seem almost completely superior in every aspect, but there are certain things that I find to be better in my model year than the newest one. First off, the SID. I love the placement, but I don't like where the control placement is. Granted, I'm only in possession of this car for a mere 24 hrs, but for the time I have it here, I wish the knob or atleast a button were in a different place. For the reason of easy access while driving and not having to reach forward as much. One option this Saab has over mine is the heated seats and the dual zone climate control. The former can be installed(and it should have been), while the latter seems like an ab-fab way to keep comfortable in a variety of different weather conditions. I just wish my car had heated seats to make this an easier comparo. I do like the new interior, but also, the placement of the Night Panel button should have been better, IMHO. The could times I tried to get to the button, I had to look around the steering wheel to find it. Not something I felt safe doing, especially since my 9-3 has virtually every button easily visible and accessable from my seating position. The seats in the new 9-3 are also very comfortable. Sure, my 9-3 is about 7 years old and the padding isn't as good as it used to be, but that doesn't mean the new 9-3 is exceptionally better. I found the grip in the seat to be somewhat lacking, compared to my current seats, but then that could be remedied with more seat time. Bringing down the rear seats in the new 9-3 is SOOOO much easier than in my 9-3. Just pull a lever and the seat unlocks. Fold the seats down and you're good to go! No more having to get the right angle and right amount of force to get the seats to open up. But despite this easier cargo expansion access, it still lacked the sheer volume my hot hatch has. It does have about as much lateral and longitudinal space, but it doesn't have as much vertical space.
Performance vs my 9-3. First off, this 9-3 is an autobox. Performance and gas mileage are at slight disadvantage compared to my 9-3, but the smooth operation and silent running of the car more than makes up for the performance differences during my runs in the car. The auto tranny, a 5 speed, like I mentioned, has exceptionally smooth upshifts and downshifts. One thing that I found to be slightly disappointing is that when accelerating gradually, it shifts from 1st to 2nd before 2000rpm! In my 9-3, I usually shift when I get to around 3-4000rpm for some extra speed and smoother transition. There is also a noticable lag when flooring the accelerator to wait for the tranny to catch up to what you want to do, but that isn't a big deal since you can switch into manual shifting. Speaking of the manual shifting, I didn't have the paddles on the steering wheel, so I had to use the stick itself. Since this car was new to me, and I was definitely being careful, trying not to damage it, I only used the manual shifting once and found it to be slightly unsettling. It was jerky and shifting felt kinda slow, but I only used this feature once and the last once I used was an 2003 Aero version with the paddles. The engine was also pretty powerful as well, just starting from off the line seemed to make the car act slow during acceleration. But thankfully, there wasn't any herky-jerky throttle response at slow speeds. Gas mileage was pretty good considering it is an auto AND the turbo is being used alot more than I would use it. I noticed that the turbo is being spooled up more often and higher than I usually do in my 9-3, leading my to surmise that this is how the 9-3 can drop is mileage to V-8 levels. I'm sure if I was using a stick, the mileage would have been better and the performance difference would have been significantly higher. Handling and road holding is also much better than in my 9-3. Due to my car having a hatch, it makes me feel like I have a higher CoG over the SS, but I could be wrong. Anyway, the SS definitely liked to keep it's line and take turns just a little bit faster than in my 9-3. Plus, body roll during quick transitions isn't as much as my 9-3 since my tire change.
Final opinions. First off, I love this car! The Xenon lights seem to be brighter than my 9-3 high beams! The agility of the car, coupled with the smooth shifting transmission makes this THE car for someone who wants some economical, quick and easy to own. But I am definitely 100% positive that I would never use my 9-3 as a trade in for the SS. If the new 9-3 came out as a hatch, it had a stick and the Xenons, maybe I could consider it, but there are some compromises that I just wouldn't want to make. Some are small, like button placement, other are in regards to something along of the lines of something called money. But if I had said currency, I would definitely jump at the chance! It would have to have a stick and pretty much everything to make it just as much as luxurious as my 9-3, just a bit newer. I just wish this new car could stay as mine for a day or two longer, but I'm happy I have gotten to send this car through my paces. I love it and it is one car defintiely worthy of the Saab name!
1999 Saab 9-3 SE
185 hp; 195 ft-lbs of torque
5-Speed Manual Transmission
A Smile with every drive
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