Last year I was inspired to seek a test drive in a 2007 Saab 9-3 2.0t model at a local dealership. This inspiration came from daily reads of a blog that I have come to highly respect. This is TrollhattanSaab.net, a highly regarded Saab marque enthusiast’s blog penned by Steve Wade (aka Swade) out of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. I started reading this guy’s blog (a little over a year ago) after researching that a Saab would be an appropriate (step-up) replacement for my fading 2000 Nissan Maxima SE.
Anyway, back on topic. This test drive was a fun time and a learning experience. I was impressed by 3 things:
– the initial turbo rush (I was a turbo virgin – blush…)
– the enthusiasm of the Saab dealership sales manager (she wanted me to push it, not carefully pussyfoot it, saying that it wasn’t necessary to take it easy at the start of a Saab ownership relationship)
– and, I found a fun, twisty, 2 mile loop to enthusiastically drive on that was less than 10 minutes from my house (& I’ve been back since).
I e-mailed my test drive impressions to Swade. A couple of days later I was surprised to read that he posted this:
This will be an interesting series of entries to keep an eye on.
Dan S currently owns a Nissan Maxima and I get the impression that he’s been pretty happy with it. Dan’s interested in a 2008 Saab 9-3, but as there’s been some pretty big offers on the 2007 model – and because it’ll be good to compare with the 2008 anyway – Dan lined up a 2007 test drive with his local Saab dealer last week.
Here’s his thoughts:
I was most impressed with my test drive of what I thought would be a humble MY07 2.0T 6-spd this evening. It compared very favorably to my currently Nissan Maxima 3.0L V6 rated @ 200HP. It was so smooth & tight & WOW, that comfy seat.
The drive was about 15 minutes long, but my salesperson (the Saab sales Manager) was very good, & allowed me to dip into the turbo more than I would have thought allowable for a test drive. Another bonus – she showed me a wonderful, curvy & hilly 2+ mile countryside loop road I hadn’t yet discovered, only 5 minutes from my house! I’m going to have to check out that drive to learn it better….
I can now better appreciate what the road test auto journalists are writing about when they rave about the smooth driveability of a Saab. I loved the oozing power of the turbo, so COOL! It seems to come from nowhere & gets you up to steam with no effort.
Having 1 extra gear to play with seemed a bit redundant – I guess 6th is best for the drawn out highway runs… I thought this 2007 model was fine in the quiet department, therefore the 2008’s should be even better than what is good already.
Toward the end of the test drive, doing a turn around she said, “Go for it!” and there was hardly any tire spin/chirping going around that corner. FUN with control! Can’t imagine how much more controlled it will be with 280HP and XWD!
And in relation to his Maxima, Dan offered the following in a subsequent email:
My daily driver is a 2000 Nissan Maxima, 3.0L, 5-spd factory rated at 200HP, with about 86,000 miles on it – its tired, but still willing. Last year the replacement of the standard air filter with a same sized K&N filter made it feel better than 200HP, like more torque. But the 2007 Saab 9-3 2.0L turbo just felt better.
Last night, I remembered one of the statements you made that rang true. This Saab, even with the smaller motor would have me looking for excuses to drive out of the way detours again!
That’s what it’s all about. They joy of driving. And that 2.0T engine is an absolute cracker. You might think of it as a humble base engine, but remember it was the Aero engine just a couple of years ago. It’s got zing, baby!
Allow me to quote Olav, a 9-5 owner from Norway, and the signature on his emails:
From Olav, who always takes the long way home.
Dan, we’ll be looking forward to your local dealer getting some 2008 models in stock. Thanks for telling us your impressions and keep us posted!
I was pleased to be “published” on the web for the first time! But, what does this have to do with this blog? When you are wanting to do a test drive of a vehicle that really interests you, cultivate your relationship with a dealership. Let them know you are both serious and knowledgeable about the car you are seeking out. I had already talked, visited and established a professional relationship with this Saab sales manager for a couple of months before doing this test drive.
To date I have not yet acted upon this Saab consideration, but I know I would give a strong recommendation to anyone considering a Saab, Cadillac, Hummer purchase at this Batchelor dealership. Ask for Carilyn!
This has inspired me to test drive some other smaller, more autocross appropriate cars soon – but now I’ve to get Racing Ready for my event visit at Harris Hill Road tomorrow. Should be good, & you can be assured I’ll be posting about it!