Why Saab 9-3?

Notes, analysis, buying tips/selling points and discourse on the Saab 9-3 and Saab in general from a new owner

Introducing my new car

Introducing my new car

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

One month report......

OK, I've had my car Stateside for a little more than a month (or one month of driving, netting out some business travel), and can now say with complete certainty:

it's flipping AWESOME!

I've found myself making excuses for more driving, just for more cockpit time. The new Saab has been an absolute thrill, exceeding my expectations in every category. I'll be posting shortly a running list of things I love about this car. Here's my first 3 entries, in no particular order:

1. Profiler/driver's information at my finger tips. I really enjoy cycling thru all of the little factoids that the car computer tracks, from outside temperature to fuel mileage. (So much so that I've made some attempts at hypermiling.

(My hypermiling has been generally ineffective, as most of my trips are of only ~5 miles at a time. It's hard to make a difference when the mileage so fundamentally stinks on those sorts of trips. It does make a difference, though, such as when coasting down from the Blue Ridge Mountains on I-64.)

Not only is the information provided by the trip computer interesting (I had no such info on my last car), but incredibly convenient, with the info button underneath my left thumb on the steering wheel.

2. Easy up/down convertible roof. Saab truly makes the best convertibles. This is in contrast to sophisticated cars that still require manual effort (Chrysler Crossfire, I'm talking to you), or cars with less elegant top-down processes (such as Ford Mustang - more difficult, and at the end of the process, no tonneau cover.)

There isn't an easier, more beautiful up/down process than the Saab: press one button, even when driving (up to 20mph).

This simplicity makes a difference this time of year, as the simpler the top up/down, the more frequently I (or anyone else) would take advantage of topless driving in debateably warm enough temps. (like the current daily average of ~50F.

3. Systems integration. My 9-3 is incredibly well thought-thru. I'm impressed by the small things, like the A/C automatically turning off when you put the top down, or the "night panel" mode shutting down all visual distractions. It's thoughts like these that I generally find lacking in American cars.

More thoughts to come......

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

First view of '08 9-3 convertible

Spy shots are emerging, and the online world is quite excited about the new look derived from the Aero-X concept. My early opinion: not bad, but not exactly overwhelming.

One thing I am excited about: the LED daytime running lights. This foreshadows widespread adoption of LEDs in all lighting applications in future models, which will allow for dramatically different front ends, as LEDs take up a fraction of the space as incandescents. Presumably, they weigh less, and would therefore facilitate improved performance.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


My new car arrived at the dealership 6 weeks and 6 days after drop-off (within the 5-7 week range suggested by SAAB), though it was definitely tough waiting, especially during several weekends where the winter temperatures were conducive to driving with the top down.

So, what's the verdict after having the car in the US for 2 weeks and 1,500 miles? It's spectacular - everything I hoped for, and more.

I've found myself inventing reasons to drive the car and taking the long route whenever possible.

I'll post more specific praise in coming posts, but for now, at the risk of jinxing myself, I'll focus on quality.

While car manufacturers report defects per new car, with the best at ~ .9 per car, the industry average around 1.2, and SAAB averaging 1.63, I've had absolutely no problems with the car, which I gladly reported to JDPower via a survey mailed to me. Perhaps the great quality that I've experienced is due to the 9-3 convertible coming from the top ranked plant in Europe (Magna Steyr in Austria) which clocked an amazing defect rate of .42. I also think that ordering thru the European delivery program might have helped, as I had at least one extra set of eyes inspecting the car in Trollhattan versus a typical US delivery.

Keep up the good work, SAAB!

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Saab European Delivery Program: first class experience

Part of my enthusiasm for my new Saab is driven by my buying experience and pick-up experience in Europe. Yes, I picked my car up in Europe and toured for almost a week. What could be more fun than being able to unleash your new car across Europe and especially on the German Autobahn.

According to the rep at Saab, European Delivery happens something like 1,100 times a year (about 500 Americans). The kicker is that this method of acquisition - in addition to being the most fun - is also the most economical. I'll leave it to the European delivery program page at Saab for discount details, but I suspect that I beat any other possible deal by thousands.

I didn't get to schedule the trip in the warm part of the year since I'm immediately replacing my old, very dead Mustang convertible, but instead was able to experience European Christmas. (I was also nervous about touring someplace where the sun was out from only ~8:30 to 3:45, but it wasn't a problem. I'd hate to live with that for months, though.)

Irregardless of the time of the year, you can be sure of an absolutely first class experience courtesy of Saab, as our experience shows, beginning with our arrival at the Gothenburg airport, through our stay at Ronnum Manor, and the pick-up experience at Saab.

I kept a running blog of my experiences at Saab and touring both Sweden and Germany. You can find the posts here:

The Ultimate Souvenir: pick your car up in Europe
Ferry from Sweden to Germany
Greetings from Hannover
Hannover to Wurzburg
Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Frankfurt (wrap-up)

I'm now 3 weeks and 2 days post-trip. Delivery is estimated at 5-7 weeks, and I can't wait. In the meantime, check out my trip pictures here.

Monday, December 18, 2006

9-3 convertible trivia to pass the time

It'll be another 6+ weeks before my car arrives here in the US from Europe, so in the meantime, I've got to satisfy myself with whatever Saab-convert-centric content that I can find. Luckily, Trollhattan Saab has just the thing - a list of Saab-convertible-related trivia (click link above)

20+ years of engineering and learning in today's convert

One of the things that attracted me to the 9-3 convertible was what I would consider the industry-leading convertible roof.

My last car was a Mustang convertible, which I owned for 10 years, so between that experience and comparisons to other models over the last decade, I have a lot of informal analysis to back this up.

Saab didn't pioneer the convertible, but they do have the longest current experience with engineering convertibles, which is apparent with one examination of the 'vert package. I could expound for hours on this, but I'd say that the Saab convertible expertise and experience is most manifest in the following areas:

1-complete and well-engineered access: just watch the choreography of hydraulics that open and close the roof, and you'll be impressed. The Saab roof is quick, and be put up or down while moving (up to ~20mph). Anyone who has owned a convertible and hoped to do a change at traffic light will appreciate this. Finally, in the US, the Saab offers something I believe to be unique: remote top up/down. Again, anyone who owns a convertible has a greater appreciation of this, either dealing with a sudden change in weather, closing the top at the end of the day when you've already changed for be, or simply airing a hot car out before getting in.

2-superior storage. The fine engineering of the Saab top results in a flexible trunk space providing an obscene amount of trunk storage space (for a convertible) (something like >7 cubic feet, vs the Audi A4's >5, and Pontiac G5 hard top<2 (I can't find exact figures online.)) In contrast, many convertibles - such as the Mustang have fixed trunks, with the roof storage above the trunk. This works fine, but limits the amount of storage space.

The upshot of the Saab features is that a convertible can fit into your life,rather than vice versa. The Saab convertible also will not put the top down if it detects that the top will crush the storage area. (I believe this is becoming standard, but my Mustang sure didn't offer this.) Side note: hard tops sound great in theory, but I haven't found one with anything but neglible top-down storage.

3-fit and finish: in addition to excellent, tight engineering resulting in relatively low wind noise, I'm impressed by the insulation provided by the triple-lined roof.

4-little things: Saab has thought it all out. The radio volume is speed sensitive (very helpful in a convertible) and the air conditioning system is tied to the convertible roof. (When the roof lowers, the automatic A/C converts to manual.)

The linked article outlines how and why Saab has accumulated the experience that today produces the best convertible in the industry.

World's coolest cupholder

World's coolest cupholder