My first Saab - Quirky but loveable. Bit like the missus, really
Added: 27th of January 2019
Bought this second hand just over a year ago as a stop-gap, usually drive a Disco as it always felt safer in a bigger car. With 156000 on the clock, I Inherited a number of problems with it but nothing overly challenging, so was able to take care of them myself. As can be reasonably expected due to its age, other issues cropped up...power steering pipes rotten and sprung a leak, replaced them, along with oil cooler pipework. This car is legendary for sludge in the sump, oil pickup screen blockage resulting in major repair bills. Word of advice to anyone buying this model, unless the service history clearly states that it's had the sump pan dropped and the sump internals (especially the pickup screen) properly cleaned out, then be prepared to do it ASAP - it was on my to do list but didn't get round to it quickly enough, and the crankshaft died a miserable, oil-free death. Engine had to be replaced, more economical in the long run. Prudent also at this kind of mileage, are timing and balance chain replacements, unless you know that they've recently been done. Spare parts aren't as difficult to get as some folks think, as far as the uk is concerned, and overall they can be relatively modestly cost-wise. Price isn't everything though, as there are some cheaper suppliers but who have frankly appaling after sales service so it pays to shop around. Likewise, there's one or two very good breakers around for just about everything from trim components to replacement engines, which is just as well, given this particular year / model is well out of production. Again, there are dealers/ saab specialists and then there are dealers/ saab specialists and Central Scotland is fortunate enough to have at least one that I know of who break the mould. Obviously wouldn't be right to name them but as with other sources above, you just need to shop around. Having said all that, and having given my saab the TLC that they cry out for especially at that age, I've really grown to love my quirky, at times frustrating car. She's a real pleasure to drive, holds the road well and is reasonably economical to run. Saab were years ahead of their time in terms of technology, and even now, my 2002 model can hold its own pretty well against some of the latest cars. Ok, it doesn't have parking sensors but if you can competently park a car, then that shouldn't be an issue. On that subject, I'd have to say that rear view could be better for reverse parking etc, but it's something that with a bit of patience and practice, it becomes less of an issue. Bodywork issues aren't as bad as bad as some folks make out, providing that the car has been well looked after in the past. One area that a convertible of this age does tend to have issues with is corrosion around A-post and windscreen surround, which if it is obvious to the buyer, can be fairly expensive to repair as it's hot a bonded windscreen that might need to be removed in order to address the corrosion properly (best quote I've had for doing it was around £80 to remove and refit it), but if you're in the market for a convertible, then you're eventually going to have to bite that bullet as pretty much every convertible will succumb to this issue as there's an inevitable degree of structural flexibility allowing seal leakage and water ingress, whether it's a saab, an Audi or a Merc soft top. As far as Comfort is concerned, I'd have to say that even my 9-3 SE borders on luxurious. Well made seating, despite its age, my own car still looks great. The interior is extremely well laid ergonomics-wise, with instrument / switch layout clearly visible and accessible. It's rumoured to have been based on Saab's legendary aviation background, and I would tend to agree on that being the case. Instrument display-wise, it has to be said that display pixels do tend to have an inherent failure problem, especially as the car ages, but it's not at all expensive to replace the display, and is pretty straightforward to do, requiring minimal tools and skill. Again, Central Scotland is well served by local suppliers courtesy of the Internet. There are a wide range of repair tasks well within the grasp of reasonably spanner-savvy diy owners, and there's a huge culture and resources available via the internet, and vast amount of help and advice on saab owner forums populated by extremely helpful enthusiasts, so prospective buyers needn't be daunted at the prospect of expensive garage bills. Fuel economy could be better, but much of it depends on how this car is driven. Despite its age, my car is still giving me 33 mpg at 56 mph on the likes of the A82 and A96, which in my book is more like mixed rather than highway driving, with stop-go traffic, braking and gear changing - that's pretty much in line with the original spec for this car. So overall, I feel that it deserves 4 out of 5 stars. Performance wise, it's not a Ferrari, but it's got plenty of grunt - and it's not had any fancy remapping at all, it's just the default factory mapping, and I'm very happy with how she runs.(hence I give it 5 out of 5 stars) In terms of space practicality, it's surprisingly spacious, leg room in the back seats is really good, according to my 16 year old, 6 foot 2 inch, shoe size 14 son so I don't think that could be argued with. Boot space is excellent, even with the soft top storage compartment (which can be raised giving even more room), so I feel it deserves the 5 out of 5 stars I've given it. If you need more space, then maybe a convertible isn't for you. Reliability, Ive found to be excellent overall, but that's because I love my wee saab and give her that all important TLC. You do need yo go by the book in terms of the exact recommended spark plugs, likewise with oil...when it says Fully Synthetic, that's what it means. This car can be very unforgiving towards economy brands / supermarket deals, so don't be tempted to go down that road. The bottom line is that Saab knew what they were doing when the laid out their specs for this car and if you look after her, she'll look after you. As with every car, there are pros and cons, and saab is no exception to that rule. But for me, the pros far outweigh the cons, and despite all the wee quirks, this is a car that has still got bags of style and plenty of character that make it an absolute pleasure to own and drive. If you get the chance to pick up one of these cars, then you should jump at the chance - I did, and can honestly say that I'm glad I did.