2007 9-3 New Car Test Drive
The Saab 9-3 offers a powerful turbocharged V6 and a choice of three different body styles, a four-door sedan, a convertible and a wagon. Whichever body style, the 9-3 delivers a sporty driving experience. These cars handle well, making for enjoyable driving when the road gets twisty.
The 2.8-liter turbocharged V6 makes for compelling motivation, while the standard 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder has benefited from a recent power increase. For 2007, the turbocharged four-cylinder gets the same six-speed manual gearbox as the potent V6.
Underway, the 9-3 is smooth and quiet. We prefer the automatic, which has a semi-manual feature, over the rubbery six-speed manual. Torque steer is no longer part of the experience.
Inside, the 9-3 offers firm, comfortable front seats with a cabin trimmed in high quality materials. We prefer the standard seats. The ignition switch is located on the center console, which is either awkward or wonderful. The SportCombi wagon boasts big cargo space.
For 2007, the instrument panel has been redesigned, climate and infotainment controls have been simplified and interior trim has been revised. OnStar is available as an option; and XM Satellite Radio is now standard on Aeros, and included in the Premium Audio upgrade for base models.
Saab's unique and rebellious approach to design and engineering adds to the charm of the 9-3 and makes it an interesting alternative to the popular BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Volvo S60/V50, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
The 2007 Saab 9-3 comes in three body styles: a four-door Sport Sedan, a two-door convertible, and a four-door wagon called SportCombi (presumably derived from Kombiwagen, which, near as we can tell, is Swedish for station wagon). Two trim levels are offered on all three bodies: basic 2.0T and deluxe Aero.
The 2.0T Sport Sedan ($26,170), SportCombi ($27,170), and convertible ($36,770) are all similarly equipped, and powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 210 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is now standard; a five-speed automatic is optional ($1,350). Leather upholstery and dual-zone automatic climate control are standard equipment; so are power windows, door locks and heated outside mirrors; an eight-way power driver's seat; leather-trimmed steering wheel; 16-inch alloy road wheels; seven-speaker audio with CD player and MP3 capability; and two 12-volt power outlets.
Likewise, the Aero Sport Sedan ($32,475), SportCombi ($33,375), and convertible ($42,375) are all similarly equipped and feature a 2.8-liter turbo V6 rated at 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Again, a six-speed manual comes standard. The optional automatic is also a six-speed, with shifter paddles on the steering wheel, but it lists for the same price as the five-speed in the 2.0T ($1,350). Aero models are further upgraded with 17-inch alloy wheels; xenon projector headlamps; fog lights; premium audio; and a moonroof.
A DVD navigation system is available for all models ($2,145), as is OnStar ($695). Premium metallic paint ($550) is available in a broad palette of interesting colors; while special upholstery colors are available for no extra charge. A cold-weather package ($550) combines heated front seats with headlight washers. A blue top is available for the convertible ($600), instead of the standard tan or black.
Options for the 2.0T include a moonroof ($1,200), and a Premium Audio Package ($895) that delivers 260 watts and 11 speakers (in sedans) or 300 watts and 10 speakers (convertible and Combi) plus XM Satellite radio, 6-disc in-dash changer, and pre-wiring for a hands-free phone. That system can be combined with navigation in the Navigation/Premium Package ($2,740). Another Premium Package ($1,795) combines Red Walnut interior trim (except, that is, on the convertible) with an 8-way power passenger seat, driver seat memory, Xenon headlamps, front fog lights, Rear Park Assist, 17-inch alloy wheels, express up/down for the front power windows, and remote opening for windows and moonroof or convertible top. Yet another package ($1,995) combines the previous package with automatic rain-sensing wipers.
A Touring Package ($1,195) for the Aero adds Rear Park Assist, memory for the driver's seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with integrated garage door opener and compass, rain-sensing wipers, express up/down for the windows with remote opening for windows, moonroof or top.
Safety is a key feature of all Saabs, and the 9-3 is loaded with active and passive safety features. Among them: electronic stability control (ESP), cornering brake control, anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, and traction control, all designed to help the driver maintain control in a variety of difficult situations. Passive safety features include dual-stage front airbags, dual-stage side-impact airbags, and roof-mounted curtain airbags. Saab's Active Head Restraint system that cradles the head to minimize whiplash in a rear collision is also standard.