Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Boredom Banished as Saab Enters a New Era

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Boredom Banished as Saab Enters a New Era

Article excerpt

Confession is said to be good for the soul which leads me neatly into the admission that, for years, I found driving Saab cars about as exciting as watching paint dry.

Those solid-built and weighty saloons and hatchbacks of the Saab 900 series of the 80s and early 90s, with the roomy but gloomy interiors, were less than inspiring.

And, while the 900 executive hatches and convertibles of the late 90s still lacked style, the Swedish carmaker failed to tick almost any boxes at all for me until the appearance of the more refined and assured 9-3 range towards the end of the last decade.

Late 2002 saw the emergence of 9-3 Sport Saloon models which represented a complete new dawn for the Saab people in their quest to take on the dominant German carmakers such as BMW and Audi in the compact executive market while adding to the company's appeal to UK roadway users.

The current Saab 9-3 Sport Saloon introduced towards the close of last year, comes with a sextet of engine options, four petrol in the shape of a 1.8i housing 122bhp, 1.8t (150bhp), 2.0t (175bhp) and a 210bhp 2.0T powering the range-topping Aero model, plus a brace of 1.9 diesels boasting 120 and 150bhp.

For the kit-conscious motorist, standard equipment is generous on all models, opening up with the 1.8i entry level, running through the Linear, Linear Sport, Vector and Vector Sport to the flagship Aero model.

As with all Saab 9-3 models, the driver's environment in the Aero test car proved an extremely comfortable, yet highly practical place to be.

For, after parting with your hard-earned, you get the luxurious feel of hugely supportive leather seating and, with bags of adjustment `twixt tiller and driver's seat, the driving position is excellent. You sit facing quite an ergonomic masterpiece in a dashboard which has obviously been the result of much thought, with dials easy on the eye complementing a businesslike centre console which is button-pusher friendly.

Standard kit level on the Aero is hugely generous with individual settings on the Automatic Climate Control for both driver and passenger, four-speaker Premium 70 Sound system and CD with steering wheel controls, electric windows all round, powered and heated door mirrors, cruise control and trip computer all neatly set-off by eye-catching metallic trim. …

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