1999 Saab 9-3 consumer reviews

$25,900–$37,750 MSRP range
side view of 1999 9-3 Saab
94% of drivers recommend this car
Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.2
  • Interior design 4.1
  • Performance 4.4
  • Value for the money 4.1
  • Exterior styling 4.2
  • Reliability 3.9
Explore the 1999 Saab 9-3

The Best Car I've Owned

The '99 Saab 9-3 is an all-around great car. With a turbocharged 4cylinder engine, Saab achieved the perfect balance of performance and fuel economy. Not to mention its rugged reliability. It'll do 0-60mph in less than 7 seconds, and if driven conservatively, will get 30+ mpg on the highway. The bottom line though is this car is just too much fun. The suspension is a tighter suspension than most cars (a little sloppy in my opinion, could be even tighter), yet still it manages to handle quite nicely. Sharp turns with the turbo boosting makes for a heck of a ride. As far as interior design, the 1999 9-3, being the earliest 9-3, is equipped with features GM later phased out. The hatch makes for superb storage and little gadgets like Weather Band radio come in handy more often that you'd think. The best part about owning this car though is the Saab community. The car is pretty easy to work on and there are many websites where other Saab owners post DIY repairs, which can really save you $$$ compared to the otherwise ridiculously high dealership prices. If maintained properly, the 9-3 should last for 300K miles. Overall, the 1999 9-3 has turned out to be the best car I've ever owned. I bought it having no knowledge about Saabs and have been very impressed with how well it's held up. I've owned Hondas (equal in reliability to Saab) and the Toyota Camry, which are all still very good cars, but none have been as fun to drive as a Saab. The 1999 9-3 was my first Saab, and I guarantee it's not going to be my last.


Great -but not for everyone.

This is my 3rd Saab (my wife and I still have a '91 900 convertible as a summer car). I would say that the 9-3 is a bit more refined than the 900, but does lose some of its charector with the beginnings of GM influence. So, here's the deal with Saabs: Don't own one if you rely on a dishonest or incompetant mechanic. Before you get even a simple maintenance repair done, do your own research on-line. These cars don't go bad nearly as often as you'd think from some of these other reviews -but I've had well meaning mechanics whom I've known, still give me bad (and expensive) advice when the problem was cheap and simple to repair...or no problem at all. Now the good stuff: Very few cars offer the blend of performance (buy a radar detector), comfort, utility, and economy. The turbo with a manual transmission is a bit tricky at first, but great fun after getting used to it. Mid-range accelleration and passing is fabulous. Saab seats are unbeatably comfortable on a long trip. Drive it nice and you can break 30mpg on the hiway. We live in Northern Minnesota and the Saab 9-3 is a great winter car -but get the snow tires.


Great Driving Experience

This is my first Saab and it is the most fun I've had driving a car, especially with the top down, the feeling of freedom is like nothing I've ever experienced before. This is not a cheap car and the maintenance can be high, but the good looks and the stability on the road is unsurpassed. If you're thinking of becoming a Saab owner, I highly encourage you to do so.


Fun to drive when something's not broken

Overall, this is a car that is different from your average family sedan or sporty car. The exterior has a pretty cool shape and design and the interior has a lot of features such as leather seats, CD player, power seats, sun/moonroof, NightPanel and the SID (Saab Information Display) which tells you if there is a malfunction in the car. For this particular year, the car is fickle, unlike it's previous model. Because this is the first transition from the 900 to the 9-3 and GM had already begun it's changes. Which thus creates many problems. The engine and transmission are reliable but every little nit-picky electronic, power, luxury etc. item goes awry and parts are not only expensive, but difficult to locate. Normal acceleration is a bit sluggish, but the car has a turbo and an equal sport mode to give it more juice, and has an opposing winter mode which is great for the snow and ice. It takes curves very well, has an incredible turning radius and is kind of small to fit in compact parking spaces. Average mpg is around 22-25. But not comfortable for long trips. This is an all around fun car to drive when the "acronym" for SAAB {Something Almost Always Broken} doesn't apply. If you can afford and keep up with the maintenance, then this is a good auto.


I love My Saab, But its expensive to fix

I have owned my two door 1999 9-3 Hatchback for 5 years. I bought it used in fall 2002. I love the way this car drives and looks. Its fast and chic! Although it does get worse gas mileage than you would think, because of the turbo. It averages about 20 mpg overall. Now it has just over 106,000 miles and the little things have started to go wrong. The door locks are seizing up and the LCD display doesnt work on the stereo anymore. What I dislike the most about this is that all the parts are outrageously expensive! About what BMW or Mercedes parts cost. its also hard to find place that will work on Saabs. I would have gotten a four door, could I do it over, but I still would have bought this car. It is really fun to drive and I still get complements on how good it looks!


The is the Worst Car I have had!!!11

Every 2 months i have to take my 9-3 saab to the dealer to get fixed. it is a pile of junk!!! I think you should buy another car.


Something to learn

I think this is an overlooked car, not everybody is familiarized with this brand and are usually not willing to pay a lot for it, but let me guarantee you that the performance is going to be better than most average car including those popular Japanese cars. My only bad comment is that the general design is nothing to brag about.


reliability, speed and style

I have owned this car for approximately one year. When I first purchased it, my immediate speculation and concern was directed towards the reliability of the car and its winter driving (because of the convertible top). To my own surprise the convertible top has had little to no effect for winter driving. It is as if you are driving any hard top. However, once the good weather roles around and the top comes down it as an experience like no other. Convertible tops are NOT overrated! In terms of reliability, I have had no mechanical problems with this car at all ( knock on wood). There has been only a few petty things that have worn out that aren?t even worth mentioning. The reason I rated this car so highly is because it continues to be stylish and quick with little to no maintenance. (can you ask for more?)