First Drive: 2008 Saab 9-3, Saab 9-7X Aero

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Saab surprised us at last week’s event, not with tremendous new offerings, but with slightly altered versions of existing models. Even more surprising was the fact that we were impressed by the cosmetically altered 9-3 sedan and wagon, and not so much by the powerful V-8 engine that was added to the new 9-7X Aero SUV.

2008 Saab 9-3

The 9-3’s svelte exterior and Euro-cockpit dashboard are all business, with plenty of straightforward controls and, improbably, an SUV-sized glove compartment. GM had a couple versions to test out; even with the base turbo four-cylinder and an automatic, the car moves about as quickly as an Acura TSX. The SportCombi wagon with the turbo V-6 and a manual transmission proved entertainingly quick, though the stick shift is a bit clunky for an entry-luxury car. Then again, you can’t have everything when your car starts five grand less than most competitors. — Kelsey Mays, Cars.com reviewer                     

I was surprised that the new 9-3 sedan was here; I’d kind of forgotten about the car getting a face-lift. That design change is pretty much the only thing new for 2008, but because it’s a “new” model there was reason to drive the 9-3 again. On windy country roads, the 9-3 was sporty and fun to drive to an extreme. I had forgotten just how good even the base model’s turbo engine performs. Wind and road noise were also at a minimum, but it did take rough roads with extreme feedback. Considering the interior is still holding up for its age, the 9-3 is an underrated model. — David Thomas, KickingTires editor

Underrated is exactly what this model is and has long been. If nothing else, Saab should be lauded for a turbo/small-engine/automatic-transmission combo that doesn’t make you want to drive – after a moment or so of delay -- into a tree. It responds with minimal lag, as it did years before VW cracked the code with its 2.0-liter turbo. The 9-3’s ride quality isn’t for everyone, but I think that kind of thing is for the individual to determine. Its crash tests are great. If it weren’t for a dismal reliability record, this model would be a recurring Cars.com Best Bet. — Joe Wiesenfelder, senior editor

Saab 9-7X Aero

The Aero is fast with its 390-hp V-8, and this package works well in its corporate counterpart — the Chevrolet TrailBlazer SS — but the muscle-car sounds from the loud, aggressive V-8 seem out of place in the Saab. Regardless, it’s a fine-looking SUV and I’ve always liked the 9-7X’s styling, it’s just unfortunate that underneath those good looks is a truck-based chassis with its associated ride, handling and gas mileage. — Joe Bruzek, Ask.cars.com

By David Thomas | September 4, 2007 | Comments (8)
Tags: 9-3, Saab

Comments 

J

Why won't the 9-7X just die?

George

or at least give it a 6 speed automatic as a consolation prize.
6L80E, that means you.

What car is to the right of the Saab in the picture?

Jordan

I never thougt I would buy a Saab but I just did. I was cross shopping against BMW, Lexus and Acura and although I thought the Acura TL was the best all around car, I went for the Saab 9-3 when price was factored in. I picked-up a left-over '07 for a song. Impressive gas milage, good pick-up, solid all around performer, and given that the dealer tossed in the 60th Anniversary edition package at no cost as the Manuf was providing a matching rebate it made the deal a no brainer. Other than my old Lexus I've never seen better quality leather.

Paul

A Buick Lacrosse is to the right of the Saab in this picture!

Marcus

Please take that GM Headunit out of that SAAB!!!

i like saab because it wont change as fast as all the other brands and yes its own by gm but know days everyone is own by someone else like audi by vw,jag,landrover,volvo, by ford we all need to get over it o and doge by mbz

9-3 Anniversary

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