2003 SAAB 9-3 Vector 2.0 turbo from North America
I just topped 25 thousand miles on my Vector. I pick up my new 6cyl Aero tomorrow. I’m cycling this one thru to my friend’s daughter, who turns 16 next month.
When I discovered this Saab in 2003, the local Ford dealer in Durango Colorado had just started selling them. Yes, you heard right, the Ford Dealer. They also sell Toyota, but in these small mountain communities, you need to wear many hats to be successful. The ticket up here is to buy local. You don’t want to drive to Denver or Albuquerque for service.
I initially stopped by to look/sit in one. I left two hours later as the new owner. I’m a big guy. 260 lbs, 6’4”. I’ve never experienced comfort in any car that comes close to this scrappy little sports sedan. Plenty of room! The controls are all easily accessible, the stereo functions on the steering wheel are especially convenient! Plenty of hip and leg room even when I need to pull my seat forward for the occasional rear passenger. The info system is a bit confusing, but the feature I especially find endearing is it doesn’t talk back to me! It doesn’t lock my door or yell at me if I don’t put on my seat belt!
Performance was indeed surprising; especially at altitude. The turbo negates altitude. This car runs as great at 12,000’ as it does at sea level. I was stunned by the economy. On a high speed tour of the Colorado Rockies, topping numerous 10,000’ passes with invigorating, pedal down attitude, I experienced almost 31 MPG! A touch of wheel hop going thru hair pin turns is present, but that’s inherent to any front wheel drive sport sedan.
Driving this car in the southern California freeway system, which contrary to popular belief, is not all stop & go, but high speed, lane changing, on your toes fun, I still realize over 25 MPG, and I rarely see less than 80MPH! The brakes are excellent, steering firm, but not too stiff. The automatic transmission is smooth. There is a little turbo lag coming off the line, but once the turbo winds up….hold on because she jumps right into the program offering no resistance when you ask for the good stuff.
I’ve been back to the dealer a couple of times, but they were computer issues, nothing mechanical. I have gone thru tires, but that’s pretty typical of the way I drive, even rotating every 7500 miles I’m almost ready for my third set.
The doors and body fit remind me of my old Porsche’s. The doors close with a beautiful, smooth, solid easy click. No slamming necessary here! The paint is way above average too, providing a high quality shine.
The window sticker proclaimed that this car’s engine was built in Germany, the transmission was built in Japan and the whole thing was put together in Austria. I like that declaration!
I highly recommend this car to anyone seeking a fun, affordable, good looking sport sedan.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 21st October, 2005