1997 SAAB 900 Talladega XS 2.3 from UK and Ireland


If you like quirky, you'll like the 900


Engine coolant hose split.

Rear brake bulb failed.

Dash rheostat switch failed.

Driver's door kickplate cover came loose.

Cd autochanger would periodically jump track for no reason.

General Comments:

Mine was a black one with 16" alloys and fully colour coded, I really like the shape of these old Saabs, it's a very classic shape and seems to be a lot more timeless than stuff like Mondeos and Vectras from the same era.

Plus points first -- Very torquey engine, nice and quiet at a cruise with very little wind noise, good kickdown response in sport mode from the auto box.

Handling is reasonable and grip good from the 205 width tyres I had, brakes are fantastic and very reassuring.

Mine had a really good info display that came in very handy when it informed me of a "low coolant level" warning and made a loud bonging noise that frightened me half to death! If it hadn't been for this I probably wouldn't have realised and possibly overheated the engine.

The trip computer was also very accurate with the mpg readout, I don't always trust these things, especially on older cars, but this was about as spot on as you'd need, for the record I averaged anywhere from 28-30mpg on average, which I think is OK.

The cruise control was very easy to use and a lot better laid out than on some other cars I've owned.

Final big plus point for me was a really big boot with a low loading sill, with plenty of space for my 35 kilo boxer dog!

Number one negative I think had to be the steering feel and the fact the steering wheel had reach but not rake adjustment, I sit low and always felt like the steering wheel was too high, I'd far rather have tilt adjust than reach adjust and can't understand why so many manufacturers fitted only reach on this era of car, of course, now they've all got reach and rake.

The steering is very lacking in feel and it's hard to tell what the front wheels are up to sometimes.

The ride was a bit too firm for my liking and it did struggle on bumpy country roads sometimes, not surprising really bearing in mind it's a Cavalier based chassis. My dads got an 02-reg 9-3 and they improved the ride quite a lot when they changed to the 9-3 in '98.

Another niggly point was that in economy mode the auto could be a bit too reluctant to change down a gear, and it was necessary to use sport mode more than I would've liked to in everyday driving.

Packaging wise, although the boot is big, rear seat legroom leaves a bit to be desired and the cabin's definitely too narrow, another hang up from its Cavalier underpinnings I guess.

Overall though I've got fond memories of this car, it felt like it'd go on forever and I'd happily have another, or a 9-3, maybe a Turbo next time!

Replaced by an X-reg Omega, which I've got to say, mainly feels lightyears ahead on most counts, although I do miss that Saab-ness!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 29th November, 2008

1997 SAAB 900 S 2.3L from North America


Complete trash! Stay away!!!


Let me list what did NOT go wrong... engine and transmission.

Disposable message centre units, faulty radioS, noisy/leaky exhaust, temperamental electricals, noisy suspension, most switches went out on me... total CRAP!

This car was the worst lemon I have ever owned. I upgraded to a Honda Civic after this... what a relief. To me reliability is most important. After 3 years of ownership the service manager recognized my voice on the phone. In the first year alone the total value of the warranty repairs was $20K!!! I paid $18K for the darned thing.

It rarely started when it was really cold (wasn't this thing made in Sweden!!!) so I had to boost it repeatedly with my 18 year old Oldsmobile... how embarrassing. It idled like a lawnmower from day 1.

I drove to the dealer more than once with 1 or more window down because it would not go back up.

General Comments:

DO NOT BUY A SAAB! The service manager admitted that my experience was not far off from the norm... NONE of the mechanics at this dealer (largest in the area) drive Saabs!!! It speaks volumes about these cars.

The ONLY positive marks are stellar braking, impressive handling and remarkable versatility.

I had read bad reviews about this car when I bought it, but mine had the extended warranty (thank God! I would have gone bankrupt keeping it on the road!!). At the time I thought "it could not be THAT bad!"... guess what, it CAN and it IS!

Stay away... you've been warned. In case you still buy one... "I told you so"...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 7th March, 2008

12th Nov 2008, 21:45

I also had a 1998 Saab that always had problems. Will never buy another Saab again.

28th Feb 2009, 12:42

I have a 1997 SAAB 900s with 105,000 miles and it is a very fun to drive and reliable car. Your reviews would scare me off if I didn't currently own one, but I'm glad I bought one first.

18th Apr 2011, 10:53

From original poster: I was wasting time and looked up my review to see comments. To the last poster: my gripes had nothing to do with $$. The troubles never cost me a penny because it was on full warranty, so it wasn't an affordability issue. The car was very low mileage and meticulously maintained... it just sucked! Read the details of the review next time; if necessary perhaps you could ask someone else to explain the meaning of the words. And ALL cars are built for longevity: the only variable is the number of repairs it will need.

13th Jul 2015, 07:50

Hi, your Saab was actually made by GM to GM standards... these models are a far cry from older proper Swede Saabs. The same happened to Mercedes and Volvo from the mid-90s. All made by US style car manufacturing, which favours $$ over quality.

Sad really.