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2008 Saab 9-3 Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: Owner Pros and Cons by Jeff93

Jeff93

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Reviewed: 2008 Saab 9-3

4dr Sedan turbocharged 210hp 2.0L I4 6-speed manual FWD

Why the 2008 Saab 9-3?

Powertrain performance

There is a reason modern luxury and performance car manfacturers like BMW are abandoning their 6 cyclinder naturally aspirated powerplants and moving to turbocharged 4 cylinder motors. The reason is the unparalleled performance with economy and that these engines afford. They are easy to maintain and work on too. The turbocharger increases volumetric efficiency enabling them to produce greater than 100 hp per litre of displacement. As well, Saab's Trionic 8 engine management system makes them not just powerful, but reliable. Combined with a manual 6 speed transmission, these cars provide an exhilarating and economical driving experience.

Exterior styling

While I was somewhat lukewarm about the styling of the first few Saabs I owned (late seventies and mid-eighties classic 900s) the unique design eventually won me over. I dearly loved the styling of my 1995 900 SE turbo convertible. But when I saw the new 9-3 SS I knew from the first glimpse that I would own me one of these babies. Absolutely beautiful.

Fuel economy

I have been a tad disappointed in my newest car's fuel economy. My tuned to 340 hp 1995 Saab 900 SE was getting 29 mpg in mixed city/highway driving. Currently I am driving 75% city and suburban surface streets and the rest highway. This must explain my rather pedestrian 23 mpg current average. I did get 33 mpg on a fast long road haul to the east coast.

Reliability & durability

In three years I have had only one warranty repair - replacement of the dreaded and woeful GM fuel tank sending unit. Other than this, I have performed the scheduled maintenance myself with no issues. These cars have traditionally been trouble free for me and they have been easy to wrench on when the need did arise. Under full GM ownership the easy-to-wrench-on aspect has been somewhat lessened, but the fact that I prefer 4 cylinders at least ensures that there is more room in the engine bay than that provided by cars with larger powerplants.

Past personal experience

I have owned 6 Saabs since 1990 and at one time simultaneously owned a 1989 900 turbo convertible, a 1995 900 SE turbo convertible and a 2008 9-3 SS, all with manual transmissions. I have never had a Saab strand me, although my intimate familiarity with the most common problems encountered with each car led me to be prepared. Accordingly, for example, I always carried a spare direct ignition cassette for my 1995 (and yet never had to use it). I don't know if it the result of an inherent reliability or my strict maintenance practices, but I have had other makes literally leave high and dry in the desert. So, draw your own conlusion.

Why Not the 2008 Saab 9-3?

Dealer practices

Unfortunately poor management and zero marketing strategy on the part of GM doomed this venerable marque to extinction. Accordingly, dealer support has begun to evaporate and repair parts can be difficult to obtain in a timely manner. Warranty service is unpredictable and dealer servicing is unenthusiastic in general.

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