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2008 Saab 9-3 Review

Note: This review was created when the 2008 Saab 9-3 was new.

The 9-3 has a polished exterior and a sporty feel, but it doesn't quite match the performance others in its class.

8.2

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.5
Performance: 8.3
Interior: 7.2
Safety: 9.6
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Comfortable front seats
  • More engine power for 2008
  • Soon to be available with all wheel drive
  • Cramped rear seating
  • Cheaper interior finish than expected for an upscale sedan

2008 Saab 9-3 Overview

The 2008 Saab 9-3 continues to standout from other upscale small cars by offering competent performance and unorthodox styling. Several auto writers praise Saab's ability to successfully sustain its Swedish identity though it is now a GM product. AutoWeek says, "As Saab relished is individuality -- hell, let's call a herring a herring: its quirkiness -- the preferred transport of global iconoclasts has never stood alongside other European contenders. Now it can sit at the big table with everyone else."

The 9-3 is currently available in two trims -- the base 2.0T and the Aero model. An all-wheel drive system, called cross wheel drive, is now available for the Aero trim. The 2008 9-3 is also available as a two-door convertible and a wagon, the Saab 9-3 SportCombi. For 2008, the 9-3 underwent an extensive refresh that includes a new exterior design and the introduction all-wheel drive. But the 2008 9-3 still gets reviewers' attention as one of the pricier entry-level luxury sedans. If you're in the market for an upscale small car, consider the value of a Volkswagen GTI. If you like the idea of an upscale compact with all-wheel drive, also consider the Audi A3.

  • "Buy the 9-3 Sedan if you want a quick and nimble European sedan with just enough quirkiness to set it apart from the pack. Keep looking if you want larger and/or sportier vehicle." -- Forbes
  • "Saab claims to have made 2157 changes to its 2008 line of 9-3 vehicles. While it's impossible to verify each one, the major improvements are easy to see." -- Motor Trend
  • "The revamped 9-3 takes up back to some of Saab's roots with crisp handling, manageable power, and a striking new look that includes snake-eye headlamps, piercing fog lights, a looming grille, and a clamshell hood that will be evocative for Saab fans of a certain age. Go back any farther and you'll need to break out the tie-dye and patchouli oil." -- Boston Globe
  • "A new face, new shoes, and a new dress are always good places to start when it comes to history-rich sports sedans trying to get their groove back, there are a lot of slick rides in the 9-3's market segment." -- Car and Driver
  • "Saab, as a company, has always marched to a different drummer, and it seeks customers who do, too. You'll like the beat, if not the price." -- Orlando Sentinel
  • "This new car is attractive, efficient, comfortable and sporty." -- AutoWeek
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