This, my first car, is a uniques, beautiful, and classy auto; and it is a pleasure to drive and own
The car is 12 years old, so none of the following is unexpected:
The air conditioner does not work. I'm not sure what the exact problem is, because I have not brought it to the attention of my dealer or a mechanic. I live in a climate where A/C is seldom practical.
The heated seats do not work. Again, this is a luxury I can live without, so I haven't bothered to have them fixed.
The cruise control will not set. Again, it's something I haven't fixed, because I'm a student on a budget, and I can definitely live without.
The leather of the rear headrests looks very aged. I am the third owner, of the vehicle, and I think that very little conditioning was done to this part of the car, just because it's easy to forget. They are exposed to lots of U.V. though the hatchback glass, though.
The trunk light is out -- even after replacing the bulb and the fuse. It is apparently an internal wiring problem.
There are some subtle rattles and squeaks, though they are quiet and intermittent enough not to be embarrassing while I accommodate passengers.
The wiper-blade for the right headlight-wipers is gone. I doubt it fell off, and I think it was merely vandalism.
The handle for the passenger seat folding-mechanism has broken off. I still have it, and it stays in place; but one must be careful to use it successfully.
The right-turn indicator wand will not lock into place. I have to hold it up in position until I complete the turn. It is probably an easy thing to fix, but it is an easier thing to live with.
The front hood badge is mostly illegible. The enamel has cracked off, and I notice a little more missing after each carwash. This is a $24 part from SAAB, though, so it will be one of the first things I fix.
This car is so wonderful! I'm a 21-year-old senior in college, and it's my first car. It was paid for in cash, registered, and insured -- all in my name. It's a proud accomplishment for me, and the SAAB is kind of a trophy of my own young adult autonomy.
But enough about me. You want to hear about the car! Well, you've already read all of my gripes. This car is in pristine condition. It's 12 years old. I think the 10 problems listed above are peanuts compare to what a less-reliable car could look like after such a long life! But she was definitely pampered. Her two previous owners were both women and both Californians. I wish they ALL could be California girls: they take such good care of their cars (regular washes, detailings, and constant garaging.)
The pristine condition of the car is illustrated perfectly, even while she is parked. Her paint is as glossy as if it was brand new!!! And so smooth to the touch.
And aside from the rear headrests (mentioned above,) the leather is luxurious! Clean, soft, and scuff-free. There's not a crumb or a fragment of grit in any of the seams. the leather is impressive, and most people think it's been re-upholstered.
The quirky ignition-key position (between the seats, behind the shift-knob) is a constant reminder that this is no American or Japanese clone of a car. Just remember to keep the fob simple, and don't jumble it with other keys, or you'll end up with a scuffed console.
I also have a personal liking for the analog clock. It's a simple detail that sets the SAAB aside from most autos with their green LCD clocks.
Another attention-getting quality about this car is its forward-opening hood. Access to the engine compartment is still easy enough, but with a splash of style that makes everyone stop to stare as you check your oil.
Incidentally, checking your oil in this car is a practically useless habit. In its 12 years of life, no oil has ever been added between its 3000-mile changes! It just doesn't burn any!
Cargo space in enormous. Even with all seats in position, the hatchback provides ample room for most anything. Fold those rear seats forward, though? WOW! You can sleep two adults in back without bending your knees! It's downright INFINITE!
You're probably wanting to hear how it drives, though...
Acceleration is unimpressive. Don't try to race in it, because it's just not built for that. SAAB calls the 900S a "sport touring vehicle." I agree. It makes long journeys feel short and enjoyable.
City gas-mileage is 20.8mpg on average. With 18 gallons in the tank, one can expect 370 city miles. Highway mileage is slightly more, though I haven't done enough of it to calculate a good average.
What's lost in acceleration is saved for top-speed. Be patient with her, and she'll shuttle you along to comfortable highway speeds. On a straightaway, though, I have found that the needle will wiggle just atop the 105mph mark. There may be a bit more left, but I'm not experienced enough to sustain it safely for further experimentation.
As for safety, SAAB was one of the first automakers to include an airbag -- driver's-side only. Crash tests show "Acceptable" (the highest of the three grades) safety in staggered head-on collisions. There have been reports of a soft spot which may risk injury to the driver's left leg in an accident, but the car was rated very safe in 1993, and I would argue that it is safe today.
Incidentally, my whole family was in a side-impact collision in a 1993 SAAB 900 Turbo Commemorative Edition many years ago... well, in 1993. We all maintain that that car saved our lives. Its structure held up incredibly well, even as we were struck at 50mph by a heavy pickup truck! I was the only one injured with a minor concussion from striking my head against the rear window.
Our good experience with that car (and first-hand understanding of its safety) is the main thing that lead me to search for the same automobile years later. And I haven't regretted it yet.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 16th September, 2004