2001 SAAB 9-3 Aero Convertible 2.0 High Output Turbo

Summary:

Aero. Dynamic.

Faults:

5th bow roof microswitch failed.

Serpentine belt snapped (incorrectly fitted by garage; fixed free of charge).

Door speakers vibrate.

General Comments:

I picked up my 9-3 Aero convertible at way below market value, because of the faulty roof switch noted above, and some obvious paint peel/crazing (it had a poor quality respray after being hail damaged in 2010), and still can't believe the bargain I got. Almost full dealer history and a sheaf of invoices for past repairs, indicated a well cared-for car. Despite its low 135000km, I had the sump dropped and the sump and oil pickup strainer cleaned as a precaution against the dreaded B205/B235 engine sludging. Happily, there were virtually no sludge deposits present at all; a tribute to the diligent servicing of the two previous owners.

The Aero comes with excellent heated & electrically controlled leather seats (lifted from the Viggen), traction control, and a very good climate control system. It also unfortunately comes with a crappy GM stereo that you will want to ditch as soon as you can.

This is my tenth Saab turbo, and my first of the GM-era. It drives very well, and mid-range pickup doesn't disappoint. Still, when I first purchased it, I felt it had a bit more to give... so I had the ECU remapped to MapTun stage 1, and now it is properly quick; putting my foot down in second gear feels more like activating a hyperdrive. Here in Australia, V8s rule the road (or at least, their drivers think they do), and there are quite a few V8 boys in and around Perth nursing bruised egos at how my four cylinder 'hairdresser's car' obliterated them quite so comprehensively.

One of the nicer things about a Saab is its quiet class and refinement; they aren't shouty cars like BMWs, or nouvelle riche like Audis. You can park a 9-3 convertible outside the best hotel in town or the local IGA, and it looks at home in either place. The real benefit of this quiet class is that the local morons are less likely to key or steal your Saab.

Body flex is an issue with the 9-3 convertible, and this is something you can either live with or you can't. Western Australia is ultimate convertible country, so I live with it; it's a small price to pay. But rough roads are not fun to drive along.

Expect very good fuel economy (no matter how I drive mine, it never uses more than 7.7 litres per 100km in mixed conditions, according to the display at least), but factor in having to use premium unleaded. Boot space is surprisingly good for a ragtop, and the rear seats are actually usable; again, unusual for a convertible.

In short, this is the perfect car for anyone who wants class, performance, reliability, safety, fun, and plenty of individuality. If you've got a life, this is the car to put it in.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 10th September, 2013

2000 SAAB 9-3 Type S 2.0 turbo

Summary:

Don't buy it, don't touch it - run away from this miserable junk!!!

Faults:

Heater hose burst on the highway at night 140 km away from civilization.

TDC sensor broke down, resulting in intermittent and sudden engine cuts - was hard to diagnose - again, at night, in the middle of nowhere. Took me 8 hours to drive 120 km as the car was stalling every 10 minutes.

Three (3) tailgate lock solenoids changed in one year, they just kept failing, locking the boot no matter what you do. Very inconvenient at any time, especially when shopping.

Ignition lock was changed 4 weeks before I bought the car (have paperwork, cost of $190) and the new one started to play up after only a few months.

Computer screen is of atrocious quality - 80% of the pixels are missing; you have to be a Sudoku expert to figure out what it says, and what you see also depends on the temperature.

Original SAAB rear speakers sounded like a Chinese-made tin garden shed on a windy day. Replaced with an aftermarket Pioneer.

Factory stereo sometimes went mute for days, no matter what I did, there was no sound. Than suddenly sound would come back by itself, for any time it wanted - 5 minutes or 5 weeks, only to disappear into thin air again.

Bonnet struts not holding (OK, normal wear and tear).

Engine finally gave up the ghost - failed to start at the end of my 14-hour hospital night shift, leaving me wondering after a sleepless night: "Why NOW? Thank you, SAAB! What a marvel of human engineering!" To make things more interesting, it happened after the car was sold and the buyer was on his way to pick up that pile of misery.

I tried to use "Start Ya Bastard" Instant Engine Starter, produced and marketed by Nulon, (who, obviously, do not have a problem using the word "b*****d" within the Australian public, as our site moderators do), but it did not work.

I know that female owners usually "humanise" their cars, thinking of them as of "living creatures", and we, males, don't normally do that. But I honestly think that b*****d had his own evil soul - otherwise, why he would do such things?

The most impressive part was that when engine failed, the NRMA guy was driving the Saab around town on the back of his truck all day long, because NO MECHANIC WOULD TOUCH IT. Finally he brought it back to me, saying "sorry, nobody wants to do anything with the SAAB" (and I live in Australia, not Papua New Guinea).

General Comments:

Total and entire rubbish. Will I ever learn??? I've had a total of 7 Saabs in my life - EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM BROKE DOWN MISERABLY due to electronic faults, and was too expensive and awkward to repair.

Every time I promised to myself that I will never touch one of those freaks again, and every time I bought another one!

And even I only bought a "low mileage, well looked after, one owner, meticulously maintained" examples - they still broke down on me, even though I maintained them even better than the original owners.

I used to be a Volvo truck mechanic for years in NZ, but... oh boy... I give up. To hell with them. As much as their trucks and buses are good, their cars are a total nuisance.

To be fair, Volvo people are clever enough to use some reliable (made in Japan) electronics, not that horrible, unspeakable VDO cr*p, created by a sick brain (if any!), that will fail if not every week, then every second week (SAAB ignition cartridges, anyone wants to put a good word for them?).

I came from a family of construction designers/engineers. When I look at Saab design, I want to cry. Saab engineers! You went to Uni, right??? Why not use the knowledge and skills to create something DECENT???

Those of you, Swedish Bricks enthusiasts, keen to "keep them rolling" - it is about time you wake up to reality and stop pouring your money and time into that black hole that is called "Quality European cars". "Quality" is not anywhere near them. I don't want to be a part of this insanity anymore. The more money and care you put in that b*****d, the more it wants, and it betrays you at the most unsuitable time.

NO MORE!!!

P.S. NO WONDER, THEY WENT BANKRUPT.

ROT IN HELL, SAAB!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 6th June, 2013

7th Jun 2013, 05:34

Ummm, a Volvo isn't a Saab! They may both be Swedish, but not the same! You should know that, especially if you were a Volvo mechanic! Volvo's do tend to outlast Saabs generally.

7th Jun 2013, 06:13

Actually, they didn't go bankrupt because of reliability problems. So sad to hear an ex-Volvo mechanic couldn't sort out a car with only 102K mileage.