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Headline:FastSaloons.com Saab 9-3 1.9 TiD RoadtestDate:07/08/2006
Source:FastSaloons.com   (Click Here for more details).OurRoadTests
   
Review:FastSaloons.com Saab 9-3 1.9 TiD Roadtest  
 
 

FastSaloons.com
Review

 

Saab 9-3 1.9TiD



Our Thoughts
After the disappointment of the 9-3 Aero we look forward to reviewing its diesel sibling. The preconceptions
are all reset and our minds our open.
 
   
 

Background



Exterior Styling



 


Successful Styling gives car road presence.
The 9-3 is an attractive car, at least in my eyes. It is distinct enough to stand out, yet not too different as to look weird, something the new 9-5 sadly achieves.

Good proportions and modern take on Saab styling are key to the cars success. The car looks just right as a sport saloon.

 

Interior Styling

  I Really like cabin itís a while since Iíve been in a Saab and it hits me what a pleasant place it is to sit in the driving seat. The front cabin is definitely aimed at satisfying the driver and boasts a whole host of goodies.

 

Great place to be. Driver focused interior.
Again the dash impresses with high resolution dials which are very simple, very clear and visually neat. Contrary to other cars we might mention Saab still has lots of buttons and makes you feel that you are in a well specíd car. Other neat features are the handbrake that folds flat down into the center console to form a symmetrical edge; and the now iconic cup holder, that ejects out of the dash then open out like some advanced origami.

The car I tested is in the Vector trim which is the top one available, barring the Aero. And the car is certainly well specified including: Two-tone electric, heated driver and front passenger seats; Satellite navagation, Bluetooth phone, onboard computer, aircon, cruise control and multi-CD stereo.

Driving the 9-3 is as pleasant as sitting in it. The Steering wheel is quite thin, but feels right in your hands so to it the gearstick which has a pretty short throw. It is however a little notchy if we are going to be critical.

One of my pet features that I think is essential on all cars is better washer jets. Cars like my own Grand Espace have nozzles that spread the spray into almost a mist. The mist then covers the whole windscreen rather than the old style jets which focused the water into a narrow stream. Saabís approach is predictably different they have chosen to use 6 jets coming from three units across the bonnet.

I learnt something more about the Night vision system. If you select night vision all the dials except the speedo go off and all the display screens go off too. In effect only the speedo and buttons remain lit. The effect is to minimise the glare from the cars interior and focus your attention on the road. I had remarked on this on previous cars, but missed the fact that it switches on and off different lights dependant on what the driver needs. For example if you start revving the car a little higher, then the revometer dial lights back up. If you drop the revs back down the light goes off again. A similar behaviour occurs if you use the radio etc.

Another simple but effective feature is that when you set the alarm: A red light in the centre of dash lights up and stays on for a number of seconds, before it starts to flash. Itís a great way of confirming that you have set it.

 
 

Ride, Handling & Steering

 
 


Good balance of ride and handling.
The car has a good ride offering a good compromise between not being too firm and still handling well. I felt the car was quite similar to the Mazda 6 we recently drove in that the car stays neat regardless of what you throw at it. On rough roads things donít get too choppy and the bumps are absorbed well. This is exactly the sort of thing that we decided the Aero did not do. The Aero was too harsh and banged about. This car is far more placid, you are aware of bumps but not unduely, all four wheels stay connected and the car gets on with it.

I also found that the traction control (ESP) was not intrusive. It ensures the car stays in line, but never feels like it is interfering. If you do turn it off you will find that the car will naturally run wide (under steer). I tested this on a large deserted roundabout and could happily carry lots of speed around it with ESP on, however found myself leaving at the first exit with it off. For this reason and the fact that during hard braking without ESP, you get lots of lateral movement, I would thoroughly recommend leaving the system on. Perhaps the only time I felt the system restricted things was under hard acceleration in the wet where it did interfere a little more than I wanted. But that is hardly normal driving.

 

Engine, Gearbox and Performance

  Saab has replaced its 2.2-litre diesel model with the new euro 4 compliant 1.9 (1910cc) model that we are testing. This benefits both performance and economy.

 


150bhp Euro iv compliant 1.9-litre turbo diesel.
With the 1.9TiD you feel the power come in from 2k rpm, exactly where the engineís peak torque (236lb ft) is. From there the engine pulls weel and has a good distribution of power. In fact the engine always seems to pull well whichever gear you are in. This makes for enjoyable driving without needing to wring the engine (just as well as itís a diesel). The engine actually revs up to c. 5k rpm. Peak power (150bhp) arrives at 4k rpm.

There is no denying the car is a diesel at startup nor at idle. However it sounds well when you rev it and sounds fine at low revs on the move. In all its not the smoothest sounding diesel engine but certainly not that harshest either.

 

 

Practicality

  As we noted when we tested the Aero the ĎFront and Rear space is good; boot space is 425 litres and so pretty much spot on for its peers.í

 

Space and style.
Economy is a obviously one of the top priorities when buying a diesel and the 1.9 Tid returns some decent official figures 39.2 mpg urban, 60.1 mpg extra urban and a combined figure of 48.7 mpg. To put this into some perspective, the car we tested had covered 15.5k miles and was showing a returned 35.4 mpg for an average speed 22mph. Given this is a press car, which will have undoubtedly been driven harder than your average car, apart from perhaps a company one, you should expect numbers c. 40mpg.

Emissions wise the Saab has a figure of 157g/km, putting it firmly near the top of our league table.

 

Conclusion

  The manual box and torqey engine make for a perfect partnership, making this 9-3 a definite winner in our book. Our diaappointment with the Aero that it looked so good but failed to deliver certainly doesnít apply to the TiD.

The Saab range starts with the base 122bhp petrol 1.8i model (£16,995). Above that you can buy the Linear which comes in the 120bhp 1.9TiD (£19,460), the 150bhp 1.9TiD (£20,480), the 122bhp petrol 1.8i (£18,585), the 150bhp petrol 1.8t (£20,020) and the 175bhp petrol 2.0t (£21,120). Next comes the Linear Sport which carries a £1,000 premium of the like-engined Linear. Vector comes next with the same engines and an £850 premium over the Linear Sport. The Vector sport increases spec levels further and carries a £650 premium. Finally you get the Aero models with there own engines the 210bhp 2.0T (£24,995) and the 250bhp V6 (£27,295).



 
Neil
 
 
Related Links:         



Our review of the Saab 9-3 2.0t sentronic




Our review of the Saab 9-5 2.3 HOT Aero



Full Set of Photos taken during the test


Saab's UK website

Quick Section Links:         
1. Background
2. Exterior Styling
3. Interior Styling
4. Ride, Handling and Steering
5. Engine, Gearbox and Performance
6. Practicality
7. Conclusion









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