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2008 Saab 9-3 Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: SAAB: When YOU want to be impressed! by killroypete



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Reviewed: 2008 Saab 9-3

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

Why the 2008 Saab 9-3?

Reliability & durability

I like this car very much, first the engine is surprising for a 4 cyl. Having 6 speed helps a lot. Never mind the 0-60mph times from the reviews and magazines, this car is NOT a dragster, get used to it. But to accelerate, like merging into traffic, absolutely no problems. The combination of ride quality and engine power can put you in problem speed$$$, watch that dial! If a coil pack or a spark plug goes bad, you feel it right away and are easy to change. -Not cheap to buy, and since SAAB is out of production it's not a bad idea to have some spares "just in case". Parts are available, but not fast enough to get out of a garage in a few hours. Owning a SAAB is a lot easier if you can fix stuff yourself, if you rely on a dealer to change tailight bulbs, it's not a car for you. Saad but true! I use mine as a daily driver, so far 2.5 years of reliability.

Controls and instruments

Apart from a small gripe aout the heater/AC controls, everything is fine. The AC control...Has a mind of it's own. It's embedded software, there's nothing anybody can do. When you start the car after 3-4 hours it goes into automatic all by itself! Not a big deal, just annoying. BUT you can choose, defrost air, panel air, or footwell air, alone or in any combo you want. Marvelous!

Fuel economy

Lots of variations on fuel economy as you can read. Driving style will make a big difference, using a lot of engine power uses gas, no way around that. Try to cruise between 1800-2300rpm, it gives good results. Cars have improved a lot in the last years, no way a 7 year old design can match a 2015 model. But It comes close!

Brand reputation & image

Only a concern when you play the 4 year new car shuffle, not feasible anymore on these cars! Again, if you're stressed out by your coworkers/neighbor's opinion of your car, a SAAB is not the best for you. Unless he/she has one?


Last subject: Tires are always critical for a car. I know it's money, more money, but having good tires makes a world of difference. Cheap Eastern tires will change the ride, negatively. You get what you pay for. It's better having an ordinary car with good tires, that a wonderfull car with crappy tires.

Why Not the 2008 Saab 9-3?

Reliability & durability

I have no real negative points, just stuff to get used to. -Fueling whitout stopping the engine will not register on the gauge, until you shut it down and restart. (Like, when it's 20 below!) -It's really touchy on the battery, the car's electonics goes mad real fast if the battery starts to go bad. Well, it's easy to change. -The rest is typical used car worries, rust,(nothing so far) eventual driveline parts change, and the coming problem on ALL modern computer cars, electrical connectors/wiring aging = intermittent bad connections.

Controls and instruments

There sould be an oil pressure gauge, so important for a turbo engine. And the turbo gauge is NOT about boost, it shows engine torque demand. 100% electronic controlled. So...No boost gauge either. I'm a gauge geek!

Audio & nav systems

Changing the audio unit on these cars is...complicated. Get somebody who really knows car audio, and SAAB quirks about audio unit or your car could simply not run anymore.

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Response from scumbling1

10:23 pm March 4, 2016

Sweet car! How do these hold up to rust? I imagine driving in your neck of the woods will quickly expose any weaknesses.


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Response from Member6015

4:15 pm March 5, 2016

So far, so good. Some small spot of rust have appeared, they were due to dings to the fenders, and scuff marks on the bottom of doors. I will take care of it in the spring.

Underneath, again I didn't see anything bad, except for the resonator heatshield bolts. They went thru the aluminium, must patch it to put it back in the spring.

Also, soon the clutch needs changing. (Well, it's been 8 years/208 000km /129 000miles)


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