An automotive labrador, but you need a friendly vet
Petrol pump replaced (was full of dirt from previous owner - a farmer with own pump)
Fuel Injection problems traced to dealer setting idle jet too low.
Rear hatch would come loose if carrying anything heavy or bulky that would rub against the rear door - may be due to a nasty nearside rear shunt it had when young. Nearside rear door needed a teeny bit more elbow to shut properly.
On-going electrical problems - things cutting out, indicators dim etc - not the alternator as dealer said, but bad earth, which "bloke in shed" found. Solved by welding earth to body.
Engine flood at start cured by above bloke in shed, but if it happens: pop the hood, remove the petrol pump fuse, start the car, stop the car, replace fuse, start car. Works every time.
Running really hot - got worse over time. Almost lead to overheating (put heater on full, fans on full, open windows and experience the Saab Sauna). Dealer tried thermostat, tried flushing system, tried skimming heads (very very expensive), but still overheating - as I did too. Bloke in shed tried putting a new radiator in - it never overheated again.
Fan-belt went at 120k. Carry a spare.
Central locking went after an attempted break-in.
Electric window switches (front) died at 130k - swapped wiring with rear switches, which worked well.
Tyres lasted 8k, and I needed new front pads, but I do enjoy driving a great deal.
The Saab 900 is, on the face of it, pure sensibleness. Sensible, yes - but that needn't discount fun or pleasure.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but Saabs do have a sort of "middle aged ex-debutant" feel about them which is hard to feel irritated or offended by. Its distinct panavision windscreen and long snout gives it enough pose to sit next to a Citroen DS and not blush. The 3-door with spoiler is a classic shape. The 5-door tends to carry a size 12-14 feel - Alison Moyet rather than Marilyn Munroe.
Inside, it's very narrow! Changing gear can lead to unintended knee gropes. It is VERY long - longer than a Volvo estate, so watch out in car parks.
The boot is legendary. I have carried all sorts of stuff - beds, a garden, a tandem bike (well, a LWB recumbent), an oversized aquarium... it all gets swallowed up in this huge portable black hole. There is a really annoying lip, though - none of the Volvoeque "slide it in", you have to hump it over the bump.
Comfort is superb. Everyone comments on how comfortable it is, how solid it feels, how there are no rattles and squeaks - though they are there. Wierd perception thing. Honestly, if you haven't done a long drive in a Saab 900 (old), you won't appreciate the depth of the comfort achieved. Unless you have a Volvo. :-)
Bodywork has lasted well, but its not impervious to rust. Mudflaps have helped in this respect, dispite grinding on every road bump you find.
Performance is NOT great in the 'i' model. It will NOT burn rubber or perform magic feats of accelleration. But it does reward smooth and brisk driving combined with good choice of gear and throttle by giving predictable handling and a lot of feedback. It's nice to drive a car that gives you warning when things approach its limits, and it's an ego boost to drive better than the car.
If you want sheer competence, get an Impreza or something - you will never know how good it is. Auntie Saab will go to the edge and say "I doubt if I can do this better".
Well, it keeps you out of hedges.
Saabs are now reaching the age and category exemplified by the 1970s sports car: You'd better be good at repairs or have plenty of money and a DEEP distrust of dealers. Get yourself a bloke in a shed lined up before you own one.
Saab 900s ARE reliable if they are looked after and if you are aware that after 100k, bits will wear out and require more than their gestalt value to replace. Talk to vintage Porsche owners - do you see their point of view? Remember that every time you authorise a £1k bill, you are buying a brand new used Saab that will last you 24 months. If you owned a new car of the same ilk, you'd spend 4 times that in depreciation each year (maybe), plus you paid half your salary for it in the first place.
On the other hand, the newer Saabs do not excite me one iota. I've heard 9000s are good - very good, in fact. After 14 years with Saabs, I wanted a change. But there was a stone in my heart when I handed over the keys.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 5th August, 2002