Saab 9-3 Sportcombi 2.8 V6 Turbo Aero XWD Review

Story by Jeremy R. Chua, pictures by Azfar Hashim
6 Jun 2009

If you want an estate, and a safe one at that, you're probably thinking of a Volvo. Read on...and think again!

Saab 9-3 SportCombi

A Saab is a curious sort of car.

The brand itself can't be considered "mainstream". And you have to admit - considering the way their cars look - Saabs don't usually attract the attention of a typical continental car buyer, especially those who are only interested in status symbols.

In fact, most drivers would probably consider Saab to be "that other Swedish brand".

So are Saabs black sheep? Well, not exactly. A Saab is like that unusual kid you went to school with - he or she was the shy, soft-spoken one sitting in the back of the classroom, the one you didn't really pay much attention to. Perhaps his or her clothes didn't fit too well. Maybe that student's sense of style didn't sit well with the "regular" crowd.

Either way, the student in question had very few friends.

But unbeknownst to all (but that small circle of friends), that student was not only smart, but studious too - he or she was the one who garnered academic awards. And beneath the ill-fitting clothes and strange glasses was someone who could actually be quite good-looking. Yes, beneath the eccentric look was a person of substance. Appearances, as they say, can be quite deceiving.


This second-generation 9-3 was launched way back in late 2002. To keep the model up-to-date, Saab ensured it underwent several facelifts over the years, the most recent nip and tuck procedure having taken place only last year.

One of the car's most striking and distinct features is that clamshell bonnet - bright trim surrounds the front grille and borders the area wherein the fog lamps are set. The head lamps, with their clear lenses, look positively swoopy.

The front facade is very "aircraft-inspired". Check out the shape of those grilles and how the design flows outwards towards the end of each head lamp - it's reminiscent of an airplane's wing. Frankly, we expect no less from a company whose roots lie in the aerospace industry.

At the rear, you'll find a subtle roof spoiler, beneath which sits the frosted tail lamps with black trimmings. The "frosting" is a fitting reminder of the snowy Scandinavian environment that this car was born in - but while they might not be everyone's cup of tea, we certainly feel they suit the car's character.

Being the range-topping 9-3 variant, our test car came with 6-spoke 18-inch alloys with Pirelli P Zeros wrapped around them.

At 4,670mm long, the SportCombi is only 23mm longer than its sedan sibling - both sedan and estate have the same 2,675mm wheelbase.

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