9-3 Sport Sedan 2.0 T Aero XWD MY09 Review
Away from the crowd

Story & pictures by Azfar Hashim
4 Sep 2009

There's more than meets the eye with this 9-3

Saab 9-3 Aero XWD

I've a good friend, Kevin, who has seen three Saabs - three versions of the 9-5, one after the other. His reason? "I don't like blending into the crowd, and besides, there's too much 5 Series and E-Class in my office car park". And I just couldn't agree more. Now, if there are more like-minded car buyers like him, I'm sure our roads will be much interesting...

Ok, so maybe you're just like Kevin and after all that toiling at work, can finally jump and upgrade from a family sedan to an executive sedan. At the same time, you want one that packs quite a punch and will be an awesome car to drive long-distance.

So you have the usual suspects in your list - the BMW 323i, Mercedes-Benz C230 and the Audi A4. Let us see - the 323i retails for $164k, but only has 177bhp. Pricey? You bet. Then the C230 - asking price is $178,888 and it produces 204bhp. Worth considering, but it is expensive. KIV then. The last candidate, the A4 - its 3.2-litre V6 lump whips out a credible 265bhp and for the sole benefit of better handling, comes with Quattro all wheel drive. But the price tag is a tad on the high side at $188k, plus the engine capacity is - for no other word - big. Which means big everything.

But it doesn't end there.

Remember a Scandinavian brand that belongs to a certain American automaker? Well, they have a credible executive sedan as well. It comes with a 2.0-litre force-fed engine and comes with all-wheel drive. Kinda sound like a C230 with the A4's drivetrain, doesn't it?


S-A-A-B. Such a forgotten name. Which is a pity, really, as this Scandinavian brand has quite a line-up locally. And to be more modest, the cars are not that bad looking either.

Especially this 9-3 you're looking at here. Compared to the more common, say, 3 Series or C-Class, it looks more athletic (you know, like that bloke who wears a fancy tailored suit to work but underneath all that, has his running gears on). So yes, the 9-3 has that right mix of athleticism and sleekness to it, and the fact that it's properly proportioned sums it all up.

At 4,635mm long, 1,762mm wide and 1,463mm tall, the 9-3 is considerably a large-looking executive sedan. Putting it next to the four competitors mentioned at the earlier part of this story, the 9-3 is the tallest in the group.

Figures aside, let us talk about the car's aesthetics now. The front maintains the traditional Saab facade, with the three-piece grill and wrap-around headlamps. There are additional aluminium bits surrounding the grill and front foglamp as well, giving off an air of sophistication if you were to ask me. From the sides, the 9-3 looks plain with only a subtle bodykit and 17-inch alloys wrapped in 225/50 R-17 Michelin rubbers to spruce things up.

At the rear, the 9-3 doesn't feature any angular lines. Check out those frosted tail-lamps - they're bloody cool, aren't they? Then to give a sporty touch, it gets a pair of exhaust pipes protruding from the rear diffuser. Something to warn tail-gaters...

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