GoAutoLogo
MENU

Car reviews - Saab - 9-3 - TiD range

Our Opinion

We like
Range, performance, economy, refinement, value, safety, price
Room for improvement
The 9-3 sedan is still too homogenised to feel like a true Saab should

Saab logo19 Jan 2007

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

THE problem with the Saab 9-3 is that there is not enough Saab in it (the exact same is true for the Ford Mondeo-based Jaguar X-Type, as well as the Citroen C4, which is almost wholly Peugeot 307 underneath both lack their respective parents’ core DNA).

Sure, the Swedish car a sweet-enough looking, with pleasant dynamics, brilliant four-cylinder petrol engines and a high degree of individuality compared to, say, most Toyota sedans.

Stand it besides any pre-1994 Saab 900, however, and the sad truth emerges. No upright windscreen no bank vault build quality no bespoke switchgear and controls no quirky design and, yes, too much of too many other cars make today’s 9-3 an Opel Vectra that’s been improved upon by the Swedes.

Is this what GM wanted when it purchased Saab in the late 1980s? In this case, genetically modified is right!

Now, we car nuts want to see Saab return to its individualistic roots, and we also believe that its far-too-neglectful caretakers have finally twigged to what the world has known since 1993, when the first all-too General Motors Saab arrived in the guise of the original 900’s replacement.

We also understand that if Saab actually uses the best of what GM has to offer today then it has a fighting chance of staying around to see the return of true Saab design and engineering tomorrow.

So welcome the 9-3 TiD, a turbo-diesel powered premium sedan, wagon and cabriolet that makes an appealing alternative to an Audi A4 TDI, while undercutting it (and the superior but much exxier BMW 320d) by a massive amount of dollars.

The engine installation seems a good one, with virtually no mechanical noise coming into the roof-down cabin of the drop-top, let alone the cocooned sedan and SportCombi wagon.

Acceleration is brisk, and gets stronger as the sweet-shifting six-speed manual gearbox or equally suitable six-speed automatic make the most of the TiD’s torque characteristics through the mid-ranges. In fact, for a diesel, this is quite a revvy little unit.

We prefer it to the current range of VW/Audi units.

So while the diesel cannot cure the Convertible’s at-times wobbly ride over Queensland’s patchy southern roads, its impressive overtaking punch and refined drivetrain means that the TiD is the most compelling model in the drop-top range – especially as nobody else in Australia (ever) has had the guts to go diesel in this image-sensitive segment.

Along with the dynamics, Saab also seems to have fiddled with the steering and suspension tune in the MY07 9-3s, because the handling is definitely more linear and involving than the last batch we drove.

To make sure this wasn’t limited to just the TiD models, we also sampled a new petrol-powered 9-3, to come to the same conclusion.

Indeed, while you would not call any 9-3 a driver’s car, the TiD is enjoyable to drive. In SportCombi guise, we believe Saab have a real winner, and a unique proposition in the crowded premium sector, since only the French, Alfa Romeo, VW and soon Volvo are willing to import diesel-engined wagons.

A flurry of other detail changes inside, most noticeable on the dashboard, which further strengthens the 9-3’s case, especially as Saab’s pricing really puts the model in up-spec mainstream Japanese territory.

While it is a GM unit found in a host of Opels and Vauxhalls, diesel and 9-3 are a great fit, and an encouraging first step in Saab’s crucial drive towards its cherished sense of individuality, initiative and independence.

A Swedish Corona, the 9-3 TiD, particularly in wagon and convertible formats, most definitely is not.

Share with your friends

Enquire on or Test Drive a New 9-3

Customer Terms and Conditions – New Car Lead enquires

Agreement

This is an agreement between GoAutoMedia Pty Limited ACN 094 732 457 of PO Box 18, Beach Road, Sandringham, VIC, 3191 (“we/us”), the owner and operator of the GoAuto.com.au website (“the website”) and the person wanting GoAuto.com.au to provide them with a lead for the purchase of a new car (“you”).

By completing a New Car Lead Enquiry, you agree to the terms and conditions and disclaimers and acknowledge the policies set out below.

Terms and Conditions

  • In order for us to effect a lead you must you must complete a New Car Lead Enquiry (“Enquiry”).
  • We will call you as soon as possible after you complete the Enquiry and certainly no later than the next business day. When we call, we will discuss with you your new car requirements.
  • You consent to our passing on the Enquiry and your requirements to an appropriate authorised motor car dealer as a lead.
  • We will contact you again in approximately eight days following your initial enquiry to check on the progress of the Enquiry.
  • While we will provide the dealer with the Enquiry and details of your new car requirements, we take no responsibility for what happens after passing on that material as a lead.
  • You acknowledge that we are a new car information service providing new car editorial information, pictures and prices to our customers as a guide only. Any new car prices published on the website are the manufacturers’ recommended retail prices and do not include delivery charges and on-road costs. Any authorized motor car dealer to which we pass on your Enquiry as a lead will provide you with full details of the price at which the vehicle will be sold to you.
  • You acknowledge that we do not sell motor vehicles. Any sale of a new car to you by a dealer after we have passed on your Enquiry to that dealer as a lead, is a sale by that dealer not by us.

Privacy Policy– New Car Lead Enquires

  • We take privacy very seriously. We understand that you will only complete an Enquiry if you can trust us to protect your personal information and use it appropriately. Our policy is to ensure that the personal information collected when you make an Enquiry is only used for the purposes of connecting you with an authorised motor car dealer.
  • We do not on-sell information collected from you or any other customer.
  • From time to time, we may email you with information or promotions that may be relevant for car buyers. You will continue to receive communications from us unless you tell us that you do not want to receive any advertising or promotional information in the future by unsubscribing from these communications.
close
* Denotes required field
** Australian inquiries only
*** Prices exclude on road costs and dealer delivery fees

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.