I bought this car because I had admired its looks for a number of years. I was lucky to find a 2007 in mid-2010 with only 13,000 miles on it. I think the 2007 is the best model year for this car. Prio...
I bought this car because I had admired its looks for a number of years. I was lucky to find a 2007 in mid-2010 with only 13,000 miles on it. I think the 2007 is the best model year for this car. Prior model years had a confusing dash layout and some technical problems that were ironed out by 2007, while later models were the victim of some unfortunate changes to the exterior. The more angular headlights and grille on the 2008 and later models look rather desperate to my eye, while the clamshell hood gives the car a droopy profile. Finally, the 2007 sixtieth anniversary edition that I purchased has a number of desirable features, such as topstiched seats, gorgeous 17" wheels (the car looks better proportioned with the larger wheels), fog lamps, and XM radio. My 9-3 also has a 6-speed manual transmission, sunroof, cold weather package, power seats, and some other things I'm forgetting. The 9-3 comes in some great exterior colors; even the silvers and grays look unique. My own "smoke beige" exterior is a misnomer, however, as it is a beautiful deep tobacco color with olive and blue undertones. I've seen only three other 9-3s in this color since I got it.
This car is beautiful, fast, quiet, and handles fantastically. The clutch is excellent, although the transmission shifting is sloppy. (A Car&Driver reviewer accurately wrote a few years ago that it feels like the gearshift lever is connected to the transmission with ropes.) But the 6 forward speeds are otherwise a blast to drive. Gas mileage is better than my last car, an underpowered VW Jetta. I agree with other reviewers who complain about too much hard plastic in the interior--my Jetta's dash and doors were nicer--but the Saab's front seats are excellent. Had I been cross-shopping the Saab with a BMW or Lexus, I might have been disappointed in the interior, but those cars do not have the personality, looks, and uniqueness of the 9-3, and they cost a lot more. And the unlike those cars, the 9-3 is just the right size--not too small, not too big.
I've had no problems in the ten months I've owned the car, except for having to replace the original tires (due to cupping) and rear brake pads at only 23,000 miles. (The new Michelin Pilot Sport Z-rated tires are quieter than the original Continentals, handle beautifully, and are rated for 45,000 miles.) As for the rear brake pad issue, which others have complained about, it turns out that the 9-3's braking system is rear-biased to minimize nose-dive during normal breaking; the front brakes kick in more strongly under aggressive braking. That means that drivers like me who are usually gentle on the brakes will find the rear pads wearing out before the front pads. Not something to complain about, IMO.
Annoyances: Unnecessarily complex and flimsy cup holder. No auto-up on the power windows, which makes pulling away from toll booths complicated with a manual transmission. The power windows can be closed after turning off the ignition, but the sunroof cannot. The front windows occasionally shudder on the way down. Dashboard accent trim is brushed aluminum, but the equivalent pieces on the doors are walnut. The rear shelf is tan while the rest of the interior is black. The back seat is small (although better than my Jetta). The key location is fine with me, except that area of the console seems designed to attract crumbs and dust. The stereo is underwhelming, especially for 300 watts.
None of these things matter when you're driving the most beautiful car in town. No regrets at all.