Acura TSX Forum banner

1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
, Administrator Emeritus
Joined
·
2,496 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Some interior features retain brand's quirks
May 6, 2004

BY MARK PHELAN
FREE PRESS COLUMNIST

The 2004 Saab 9-3 is an unexpected Swedish delight, a quick, nimble, practical and affordable car.

The 9-3 Linear I tested is an exceptional value among European sport sedans. Its $26,090 base price includes a wide range of safety features, a sprightly 2.0-liter engine and comfortable leather-trimmed seats. Optional steel gray paint, heated seats and the OnStar communications system added $1,799 to the 9-3's price.

While the 9-3's 90 cubic feet of interior space makes it a compact by government standards, the passenger compartment's practical layout makes the car perfectly capable of carrying four adults, although the back seat's minimal legroom argues for short trips with tall friends.
The Saab 9-3's combination of value, practicality and driving enjoyment won me over quickly.

The 4-cylinder engine develops 175 horsepower thanks to a seamlessly integrated turbocharger that increases power at all engine speeds without the disconcerting kick-in-the-pants acceleration and torque steer that mar some of Saab's more powerful models.

The engine delivered plenty of power for confident passing and fast highway cruising, but it could have used more low-end torque for zipping around town.

The torque curve rises quickly, and the smooth-revving engine provides plenty of acceleration above 2,000 r.p.m.

The torque was particularly weak around 1,200 r.p.m. An eager driver could avoid that dead spot through judicious use of the smooth five-speed manual transmission. The clutch has a very pleasant feel.

While the engine's power band -- the range of engine speeds at which it produces the most useful power -- is much narrower than the Acura TSX's, I found the 9-3's handling to be superior.

The handling is smooth and confident, navigating twisty roads with ease and absorbing bumps smoothly.

At highway speeds, there was noticeable wind noise coming from the A-pillar, the place where the windshield meets the door, but the 9-3 otherwise allowed in very little wind or road noise.

The 9-3's upright seats and high roofline contribute to the interior's spacious feel, and the front seats had plenty of side supports and a wide range of manual adjustments.

The attractive interior was marred by a couple of poorly fitted pieces of trim, however.

For years, Saab was known -- with exasperation or affection, depending on whether you owned one -- as quirky, and that tradition continues in at least three interior features. First, and most welcome, is the traditional placement of the ignition between the front seats near the shifter.

Two newer quirks haven't been around long enough to become endearing, so the thinking behind them baffles me.

The 9-3 uses its low-beam headlights for daytime running lights. All the instrument panel lights come on with them, except for the lights for the heated seats and climate controls. Those lights only illuminate when the headlight switch is turned to on. This effectively means that some of the controls aren't always visible, unless you remember to turn the headlight switch on at dusk, even though the switch has no effect on the headlights.

The other oddity is a volume limiter that reduces the stereo's volume whenever you restart the car.

You can defeat this feature so your radio actually plays at the volume you desire, but the procedure to do it is probably logical only to an engineer descended from the pranksters who named the temperate and inviting island Iceland and the rocky pile of glacier-bait Greenland.

Idiosyncrasies like that are part of Saab's charm. It's just a shame that oddball ethos doesn't extend to the 9-3's exterior styling.

The car's body is pleasant but bland. The grille and hood stamp it as a Saab, but the 9-3 looks too much like the 9-5. A company that builds only two models really should work harder at visual variety.

Those shortcomings notwithstanding, the 9-3 is an enjoyable sport sedan at an admirable price that makes it a pleasant surprise compared to usually more pricey European sports sedans.




Contact MARK PHELAN at 313-222-6731 or [email protected].
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
332 Posts
I throughly tested the 9-3 when shopping for the TSX. I would disagree with this reviewer on both power and handling comments. The light pressure turbo on the Saab gives it better low-end punch, and the handling on the TSX is marginally better. Also, who the hell dickers around 1,200 rpm when they need power?

I like how he qualifies exceptional value among European sedans. Although I still think he's off-base. In Canada, a 9-3 similarly equipped to the TSX is about $41k (premium + sport packages). That's way above S40 and on-par with A4 1.8T Quattro. Not to mention that's TL and G35 territory, either of which would destroy the Saavrolet.
 

·
, Moderator Emeritus
Joined
·
10,086 Posts
He doesn't mention at all what I think are the 2 main bugaboos about the 9-3:

-- Questionable reliability.
-- Not that many places to buy them and to have them serviced.

Those are the things that kept me from seriously considering a Saab (the 9-5 is probably the one I would have looked at). As for "quirky," I could deal with quirky features quite fine, as long as there wasn't also quirky reliability. It seems that Saab's reliability has been coming up in the last few years and that now it's probably at least average, maybe above. But the past track record still haunts the brand, big time.
 
M

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
I was actually going to get a 9-3, wasnt happy with it at all. A Kia Sophia drove better. I then drove a 9-5 and liked it, that was until I drove the tsx and made a deal on it that day.

The 9-3 is a joke, sorry. It looks hot, but drives like doo doo
 

·
, Moderator Emeritus
Joined
·
10,086 Posts
mrdogleg said:
I was actually going to get a 9-3, wasnt happy with it at all. A Kia Sophia drove better. I then drove a 9-5 and liked it, that was until I drove the tsx and made a deal on it that day.

The 9-3 is a joke, sorry. It looks hot, but drives like doo doo
Huh, surprised to hear that. I think it "drives" fine but the RIDE isn't that good. Maybe it's just "semantics."

If there were no TSX (or TL), the 9-5 is probably what I'd most consider.
 
M

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
You're right there, it was the ride was horrible. It was so bad I just wanted to go back to the dealership from the test and leave. Other than the exterior of the 9-3 which i absolutely love, I gave the car a "no freakin way". I was upset because I went there expecting to buy one. Driving it made me so upset I just gave the entire car a fail. I should of been more accurate on what stunk about it. In my opinion though, compared to the tsx, I never even considered it after the drive.

I liked the 9-5. There definately is a huge difference between the 3 and the 5. They had one at the dealership with 300 miles on it, and it was actually the same price as the tsx. So as far as blue book value, the saab was way better. I drove the tsx afterwards and just said 'I want it'. I didnt even consider the 9-5 even though it was a better blue book value after the tsx test drive. I've enjoyed ownership in the tsx more than any car I've ever owned. It's perfect in all aspects of my needs. Fuel efficent, has power, drives excellent, great looking, interior is amazing.
 

·
The Voice of Reason
Joined
·
1,481 Posts
I've had 2 Saabs, my first one made it to nearly 300,000 miles and was the best car I ever had. My second (same model, same color) was ... well, I bought a Volvo next.

I really like the current 9-3 "Sports Sedan". I think it's a much crisper design than the TSX. Two things that put me off were 1.) The Saturn engine (Yes, I know it's not the Saab that has the Saturn engine, it's the Saturn that has the Saab engine. Or they both have a generic GM engine. Or something.) and 2.) that the guy in the next office is going through a Lemon-Law buyback with his, which has more demons in it's electrical system than appeared in the movie Ghostbusters. GM gets A+ for the design, D- for the execution.

I'll probably go back to a Volvo, a V50T5 or V50R, if the TSX seats don't kill me first.

Sad that even with all it's management resources and cost accounting, GM can't profitably build Saabs in Sweden!
 

·
, Moderator Emeritus
Joined
·
10,086 Posts
bob shiftright said:
.....The Saturn engine (Yes, I know it's not the Saab that has the Saturn engine, it's the Saturn that has the Saab engine. Or they both have a generic GM engine. Or something.).....
:rofl: :rofl:
 

·
Guitar and Amp Junkie
Joined
·
465 Posts
bob shiftright said:
I'll probably go back to a Volvo, a V50T5 or V50R, if the TSX seats don't kill me first.

Hey Bob, I get the impression you don't much care for the TSX experience at this time. What is it that's bothering you?

Or am I just totally off base with my impression? I may very well just be a little bit :jeffy:


Ferg
 

·
, Moderator Emeritus
Joined
·
10,086 Posts
Ferg said:
Hey Bob, I get the impression you don't much care for the TSX experience at this time. What is it that's bothering you?

Or am I just totally off base with my impression? I may very well just be a little bit :jeffy:


Ferg
Bob's OK with the TSX, he's just a neo-eclectic or something. :D
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top