1996 SAAB 900 SE 2.0 from North America


Fast, sexy, practical, high maintenance indulgence


Turbo at 142k.

Transmission at 150k.

Timing chain at 150k.

Struts at 160k.

Shifter cable at 170k.

Motor mount bracket at 170k.

Transmission mount at 170k.

Idler pulley & belt at 170k.

Blower motor connector at 175k.

Water pump at 172k.

Axle at 180k.

Radiator, fan hoses and temp sensor at 194k.

Radiator fan resistor at 210k.

General Comments:

Love it. Took a lot of TLC, but the performance, looks and hauling capacity are unparalleled. I hauled a 400cc motorcycle in the hatch, and with some mild mods I was pushing 220hp and blowing the paint off of Beemers and the like. Its distinctive style always made it stand out.

Handled like a dream. But again it did require constant attention. I wouldn't call it unreliable, considering the miles and the abuse of NYC streets and my lead foot. But I did almost all the work myself, otherwise it would have been bankrupted me. So if you can do the work yourself, go for it, otherwise I would stay away.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th February, 2013

1996 SAAB 900 2.3 NA from Australia and New Zealand


Reliable, but boring, bland rubbish


- Heater control knob broke. On inspection of the back of the knob, where it mounts to the car, it is made of cheap plastic and would obviously never last.

- One of the rear windows won't wind down.

General Comments:

This is my girlfriends car, and I have been driving it for about a month now whilst I am doing some upgrades to my 1991 SAAB 900 Aero.

To list the few good things about the car:

- It has had few things go wrong with it since we have owned it. There have been no serious mechanical problems.

- Has moderate fuel economy (Maybe around 10L/100km).

- Electric windows all round.

- Huge boot space, typical of SAABS.

But now to list the negatives... where do I start... Having owned an earlier SAAB, it is just sad to see what the marque became, and I feel the need to tell others with an automotive passion to avoid these cars. Don't let the badge trick you, SAAB cars post 1993 are not SAAB's. They are products of General Motors, and have none of the qualities you'd expect from a real SAAB. The car has had all the recommended services etc. so there is no excuse for its many issues.

- Interior components are just borrowed from other cars. The side mirror adjusters are identical to those used in Holden Commodores from the late 80's and early 90's, the gear selector is identical to some older Vectra's, and don't even seem to fit properly.

- Gear shifts when you're giving the car a bit of spirited driving are terrible. They are accompanied by a big jolt from the transmission, and are nowhere near as smooth as a car should be for this age. When trying to put the car into park, your knuckles run straight into the centre console/dash area.

- The cars handling is pretty poor. Body roll is worse than that of a Toyota Camry of similar age that I have driven, although some of its bad characteristics may be tyre related. Not sure of the quality of the tyres fitted. Steering is vague, and the steering wheel is made of plastic, and is big and chunky.

- Everything about the car just has a noticeable air of cheapness. The transmission selector feels cheap, the aforementioned steering wheel feels cheap, the stereo looks ridiculously spread out and dull, pixels have died in the display (which coincidentally does nothing but tell me I have a brake light failure, which I don't) - The list of let-downs as far as quality is concerned goes on.

- The engine lacks power. If you accelerate at full throttle from a stand still, it is just sad. The engine note is just a pointless drawl, and revs climb painfully slowly. The engine does however top out at a respectable redline of around 7000 rpm. Mid range acceleration is OK, but nothing you wouldn't find in a Camry or Civic of the same era.

- The styling of the car can only be described as embarrassing. It looks like the ugly cousin of the original 900, which was actually designed and made by SAAB, unlike this vehicle. The original 900 looked quirky and cool, whereas this looks bulbous and stupid. It really is just like someone at GM sat down and styled this car with the goal of removing any character or interesting feature the original 900 had. It is shameful when I see a real 900 whilst driving this thing. I used to love driving my 91 900 Aero, and would literally look forward to every drive. I now dread being seen in this car, and driving for fun is impossible.

Why anyone would have bought this car new as opposed to something cheaper, more fun, and better quality from Japan is beyond me. Seems like GM just bought SAAB to make a quick buck out of people before the poor customer realised SAAB wasn't SAAB anymore, at the expense of the marque. Let's face it, SAAB probably won't survive much longer given the turmoil they are in. It is widely accepted that this model spelt the end for SAAB as an innovative and quality auto maker.

I cannot wait to get my real SAAB back up and running. Sat in it again the other day, and couldn't help but smile my face off. If you want a SAAB, good on you! But DO NOT buy one of the "NG" models made by GM. They are nothing but rubbish.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 23rd September, 2011

24th Sep 2011, 21:20

I'm the original commenter and forgot to mention a couple of things:

- The ignition where you put the key into this car feels much more solid than in my 1991 Aero, which has worn badly.

- The indicator lever feels TERRIBLE. It makes awful crunching noises if the wheel isn't perfectly straight when you put the indicator on, has developed excessive play, and automatically cancels at the slightest movement of the wheel. Dangerous and infuriating.

- The boot release is on the door, and I have accidentally hit it before. Looks to me like GM's stupid attempt at making the car exhibit some classic Saab quirkiness. Fail.

30th Sep 2011, 01:58

The luggage compartment release on the door is not a GM invention - this is also found on the larger 9000 models, which were designed and built before GM came along.

Also, many complain about GM debasing a once glorious brand, but if GM had not intervened as it had in 1990, Saab would have been history then.

I am not pro-GM, as I do think that sharing components that may be seen and touched by the owner with lesser GM models is a cardinal sin, and should have been avoided.

29th Apr 2013, 05:34

I just bought one. Pleasurable, very classy looking, nice to drive, and wouldn't part with it for the world!