New cars: What the critics say
Toronto Globe and Mail
Saab claims it’s made 2,157 changes from last year’s model, but “this is basically a cosmetic makeover.” Stylistically, the new 9-3 looks “more aggressive” than its predecessor but maintains the unmistakable quirky identity “that Saab owners have long appreciated.” They’ll be pleased to know that the ignition cylinder is still in the center console between the front seats.
The Boston Globe
Both the six-speed manual 9-3 and the automatic come with a turbocharged optional 280-hp, 2.8-liter V6. The fully automatic, all-wheel drive XWD system is “not just a weather beater but also a high performance tool.” Stylistic improvements include snake-eye headlamps, “piercing fog lights,” an intimidating grille, and a clamshell hood that will have older Saab aficionados reaching for the patchouli oil.
The newly refreshed 9-3 is “the most Saablike Saab” since 1994, when the 900 was retired. Supportive seats and cruise-oriented suspension allow for “a low-stress journey,” though the manual gearbox can feel rubbery on twisting roads. The optional XWD can vary power between the back wheels to deliver wonderful handling with not even a hint of torque steer.