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Stylish, Swedish 9-3 so Saab

PUBLISHED: 18:18 05 March 2011

Saab 9-3 saloon makes a solid used buy.

Saab 9-3 saloon makes a solid used buy.

PA

Iain Dooley checks out Saab's 9-3, an alternative choice for buyers on a budget seeking a compact premium saloon.

Engines – Over the years the 9-3 has been kitted out with a wide variety of both petrol and diesel engines. Recent years have seen a slimming down of that range, with the best options being medium-power four-cylinder motors. The diesels are great for long distances while the more refined petrol units are better suited for less intensive workouts.

Exterior – The 9-3 you see today has been around for a while and there’s no mistaking its svelte looks. Its clean lines and understated appearance are highly regarded attributes in Saab circles.

Interior – Like its exterior, the 9-3’s cabin is a departure from the norm. Impressive ergonomics and supportive seats are just two standout features. It might lack the flashy gadgets of newer cars, but all the basics are covered well.

Driving – Despite its racy-looking profile the 9-3 is more of an all-rounder than an all-out performance saloon. With easy-to-use controls, supportive seats and plenty of refinement, you’re more likely to appreciate the car’s abilities after a long, dull motorway journey.

Ownership – An easy car to drive and own, Saab’s 9-3 offers buyers sensible running costs and a level of versatility and competence that easily matches that of more expensive cars in its sector.

What to look for – With its proven mechanicals and an extensive supporting cast of official dealers and knowledgeable independent garages, buying and running a 9-3 shouldn’t prove problematic. It’s important that more recent cars come with a detailed service history, while everything should work flawlessly on the test-drive. Signs of damage, no matter how minor, should have you looking elsewhere – there’s no shortage of choice.

Model history – 2002, Saab introduces latest version of its popular compact executive 9-3 model. Engine choice focused on efficient four-cylinder petrol and diesel units, plus higher-performance six-cylinder petrol variants. Generous equipment levels and regular minor improvements help keep the car fresh over the course of the decade.

Reasons to buy – Competent alternative to mainstream options, image, good value.

Reasons to beware – Won’t impress keen drivers, cabin lacks the polish of some rivals.

Pick of the range – Saab 9-3 1.8t Vector.

What to pay – 2003 03 £4,150; 2004 04 £4,975; 2005 05 £5,875; 2006 06 £6,775; 2007 07 £7,775; 2008 57 £8,650. Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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