The reference to the 9-3 being a Vauxhall is irrelevant.
It is like comparing the Volvo S40 that you mentioned, to a Mazda 3 or a Ford Focus. Or a Passat or Golf, to some random Skoda or even Audi A4/A3.
Basic architecture for cars is shared across many brands, and yet they still manage their own style and feel.
A 9-3 does not drive anything like a Vectra.
Furthermore you mention the styling and interior, as dated in comparison to the competition. Whilst I agree that the Mercedes C-class (post 04) does have a nicer interior, the 04 Passats look ancient and boring in 2010, whereas the 9-3 still looks somewhat cool. Furthermore, the Passat interiors are bland and generic.
Perhaps where you live this is not a problem, but the Australian harsh sun can be a problem for cars. While Volkswagen is always complimented on its "great plastics" they simply cannot withstand the sun or wear and tear! Volkswagens as young as 2 years have terribly discoloured dashboard plastics and the coatings scratch and chip really easily.
In summary, Volkswagens are common peoples cars. After all, it is the "Peoples Car". Whereas Saab's are quirky and interesting and therefore appeal to a different set of people.
And when you say that Saab's are not as technologically advanced as the competitors, I suggest you haven't actually driven one, or are comparing an 04 model 9-3 with an 09 model competitor. The customisable options, features and design intelligence of the 04 9-3's are unparalleled for a broad scope of competition.
07:46 As a Saab owner, I must agree that Saabs are competitive with other upmarket brands such as BMW & Audi. I recently had to opportunity to driver a 9-3 AWD, and it was an amazing little car.
I currently own a 9-3 convertible and it is probably the most enjoyable vehicle I've ever had the pleasure of owning. I must take issue with one thing you stated however, I do not agree that Volkswagens are as inferior to other brands as you seem to suggest. Yes, there seems to be a serious problem with reliability these days, but I have owned some outstanding VW's over the years. In fact I still miss my last VW - a 1993 Cabriolet that I sold back in 2006.
Just wait my fellow Saab owner... I hate to burst your bubble. We own a 2003 9.3 2T and LOVED it when we got it. The performance on the highway was amazing. Just an overall pleasure to drive, for 2 years. We bought it in 2010, and now we have a list of expensive things that have to be done. The list was small a couple of years ago and manageable. But, it just keeps getting worse and worse. The car is currently sitting in our front yard collecting sap. We are currently waiting for a part from Sweden... We just found out we have an Opel engine making "our beast" even more original... :(