We knew it wasn't a good sign, when at 22,000 miles the rear brake pads wore out, and not the front. Apparently this is normal!
All four dealer supplied tyres were terrible, and had worn out before 20,000 miles.
On Christmas day, the water pump failed, and resulted in us having to refill the coolant tank every 10 minutes at the side of the road to get home. Saab Ireland refused to cover this, as it was originally English registered. After we pointed out how ridiculous this was, and after 2 months of phone calls, they said they would do this, but they would knock a year off the 3 year warranty, as it had been exported. They also said they wouldn't do the work until we had paid our local garage to prove what the problem was. €80 down the drain. We questioned their business practices of course. They had to do the timing belt as well, once they took out the water pump.
About two months later, while my mom was on the M50, it lost power steering, lights etc, and almost all power, and went into limp home mode. About every warning message came up, including brake failure. After this happening a number of times over the week, the computer finally displayed battery not charging. Obviously the alternator. We then discovered before we called Saab, that on their previous receipt for the water pump, it said the alternator needed replacing. Their reply was "your last service was three months late, so your warranty on such items is void". It had been off the road with the failed water pump at that time.
We then discovered, when we tried to put a new battery in just to drive it home, that the ECU had failed, as the car wouldn't start, and the ECU light just stayed on.
The interior was so cheap, and fell apart quickly. The plastic around the tailgate fell apart, leaving bare metal. On the exterior, the black plastic went even more blue than my 17 year old BMW, and when washed, it didn't shine as well either. Just cheap all round.
Shortly after we sold it, the new owner admitted to changing the front brake pads, two tyres again, and that the diesel injectors were leaking badly, and all had to be changed.
The car had 27,000 miles when we sold it as a non runner. I didn't think this was possible on a car less than three years old.
It drove great when it worked, although it spent more time off the road, as it was such an ordeal to get it fixed each time.
The suspension was good, and not too stiff and not soft either.
The steering was a little light and numb.
Brakes were very sharp.
Performance wise it was great on the motorway due to the sixth gear, but a bit slow around town because of the very evident turbo lag, which I found a bit annoying.
As for economy, it was mixed. If you were driving around town, it would get about 30-32mpg, but if you stayed below 2000rpm and kept the turbo off, you could get over 60mpg. This is far easier said than done.
On the motorway I found it was ~40mpg +-5mpg, depending on hills at 120km/h, unless you stuck at 100km/h when it would get over 50mpg easily. The economy was quite hard to judge, and obviously the turbo caused this.
The general build quality was just appalling. We've never had so many problems in such short a time period on a new (1 year old when bought) car.
The interior looked nice, but was made from such cheap materials that squeaked and rattled from day 1.
Compared to the other car we had at the time (1993 BMW 316 Touring), the interior had no rattles, the tailgate was still together, and everything but the alternator and timing belt were original in the engine (expected at that age). No comparison whatsoever.
We sold it with the failed alternator and ECU as we didn't have the money to get it fixed. We got less than a third of what we bought it for used 2 years later.