What's New For 2009? The 2009 Saab 9-3 sedan gets the XWD all-wheel drive system from last year's 2008 Saab 9-3 Turbo X sport sedan and wagon. The Turbo X model is dropped, and the Aero models get that car's 280-horsepower turbocharged V-6 engine, as well as its carbon-fiber look interior trim.
Should I Buy This Car? No. The Saab 9-3 doesn't live up to its billing, or its price, as a sport sedan. Even within GM's own stable there are better values.
Why is the ignition between the seats? Originally it was an anti-theft device that forced the driver to put the car into reverse before removing the key. Now it's retained as a contrived Saab "quirk."
What else should I consider? The BMW 128i offers just as much power, rear-seat room and panache as a base 9-3, for about the same money. Same goes for the 2009 Acura TSX. On the other end of the spectrum, a Cadillac CTS with direct injection offers tons more refinement and driving pleasure for less than a 9-3 Aero Sport Sedan
Quick Look: 2009 Saab 9-3
The 2009 Saab 9-3 sedan is the entry-level Saab and the smallest car in the manufacturer's lineup. In addition to the Sport Sedan here, it's available in convertible and wagon body styles, the latter referred to as the SportCombi. As a subsidiary of General Motors, the Saab 9-3 shares its underpinnings with the Pontiac G6 and Saturn Aura, among others. Two important features make the 9-3 sedan stand out from its brethren: unique turbocharged engines and available all-wheel drive.
The base model 2009 Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan costs $29,610 and is powered by a 210-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, mated either to a six-speed manual, a five-speed automatic in front-wheel drive models, or a six-speed automatic in all-wheel drive models. Opt for the $42,660 Aero and you get a 2.8-liter turbocharged V-6 producing a respectable 280 hp driving all four wheels through a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. All prices include a $775 destination charge.
While the 2009 Saab 9-3 has the goods on paper, overall it lacks in key areas. As a sport sedan, it's missing the power and precision we expect, although the all-wheel drive is a welcome addition and definitely a worthwhile upgrade. The second is in refinement. While many of the materials used inside are quite nice, the overall assembly isn't quite to the level of Volvo, Cadillac, Audi and other competitors. Unless you really love the 9-3's looks, you might want to keep shopping.
By Keith Buglewicz
Photo credit: Saab