I’ve driven a 1989 9000 Turbo hatchback for 14 years and 209,000 of its 220,000 miles, and I just keep falling in love with this car.
PROS: This car does so many things so very well.
First, it’s fast. You can leave most other cars in the dust if you really want to prove the point.
Second, it’s fun to drive, and the worse the weather, the more fun it is. With the right tires, this car is a blast in the snow, and unphased in rain or sleet. You always get the solid, precise, nailed-down handling that Saab is famous for and that inspires confidence in all conditions.
Third, comfort. This car is a dream on long road trips, and you emerge from the spacious cabin and recliner-comfortable front seats fresh after hours on the road.
Fourth, capacity. You can haul five adults comfortably, four very comfortably, or fold down the seats and bring home a washing machine or twenty bags of mulch or other bulky cargo.
Fifth safety. The car helps you avoid collisions with its excellent handling, and is among the very best for surviving a collision if you’re unlucky.
Sixth, economy. It does all this with four cylinders! So you get this performance with mileage more typical of an economy car.
Seventh, style. At 16 years old, while the car is obviously not one of the serpent-eyed current models, its styling is classic, elegant and still looks sleek and modern. The ’89 has enough angularity to embody the classic Saab design elements, avoiding the lozenge-itis that I think afflicts later models, particularly in the tail design.
Eighth, solid construction. My car has spent all 16 of its years out in the elements, and still has no significant body rust. The engine has taken a lot of abuse and still not failed.
Finally, the many intelligent design features that Saab is known for, such as: fuses conveniently located in the glove-box; the little fold-down toolbox in the trunk, the low trunk lip for easy loading, the ergonomic “cockpit” like an airplane. And the cargo shelf makes a great changing table if you’ve got a baby.
CONS: My only major gripe is that Saab prices its parts so high.
This car is NOT the right choice for someone who has no passion for driving and just wants inexpensive maintenance or a cushy ride.
The 9000 chassis is sporty and you feel the road, but by God you’re nailed down to that road. (By contrast, when I drive my father-in-law’s ’95 Mercury Grand Marquis, I feel like I’m sitting in a sofa on a pogo stick!)
Also, it’s not a car for badge-snobs.
BOTTOM LINE: The car takes a toll on my wallet, but it’s a unique and wonderful design, and I just keep on fixing it and rolling on with a big smile on my face!