We use cookies on whatcar.com to improve your browsing experience and to provide you with relevant content and advertising, by continuing to use our site you agree to this. Please see our privacy policy for more details. Continue

What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For Looks live up to the Sport Wagon name; it's quick, too

Against Chassis can't cope with more powerful engines

Verdict Looks the part, but the rest doesn't come up to scratch

Go for… 1.9 TiD 150 Linear

Avoid… 2.8 Aero

Saab 9-3 Sport Wagon
  • 1. Watch for uneven tyre wear, which could indicate misaligned suspension
  • 2. Leather trim, sat-nav and a good stereo system will make the car easier to sell
  • 3. It has extremely comfortable seats and a sound driving position with a wide range of adjustment
  • 4. If you have to carry large loads, the 9-3 may not be up to the job
  • 5. Go for the 150bhp version of the 1.9-litre TiD turbodiesel - it's the best engine for this car
advertisement

Saab 9-3 Sport Wagon full review with expert trade views

Saab’s take on the small executive lifestyle estate is aimed directly at the BMW 3-Series Touring and Audi A4 Avant. The Swedes have even come up with their own name, Sport Wagon. It’s intended to convey the 9-3 estate’s essential message, and the car certainly has the looks to live up to the promise.

However, the drive is not nearly as appealing as the Sport Wagon’s styling. It suffers from the same fidgety ride and below-par handling as the saloon, and, while its most powerful engine should be a joy to drive, the chassis can’t handle the power. Hopefully, Saab will find a worthy home for the turbocharged 2.8 V6 petrol.

It works reasonably well as an estate, and the cargo bay of the 9-3 has a low load sill, wide load bed and decent space. The rear seats fold almost completely flat and are easy to operate, too, but there are plenty of more spacious estates for less money.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Good looks and supported by decent engines. Still feels a little GM

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

Saab’s 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine is a fine unit with 120bhp, but it’s even better with 150bhp. It gives the Sport Wagon greater performance and lugging power when it’s being used to its full as an estate, and both versions are smooth and quiet, and have loads of mid-rev pull.

The 2.8 V6 turbo is a superb engine with masses of power, but it’s too much for the 9-3 to deal with, so petrol fans are better off looking to the 1.8-litre turbo that comes with 120, 150 and 175bhp. Each has decent performance, but the 1.9 diesel is still the better bet overall.

There are three main trims for the 9-3: Linear, Vector and Aero. Aero is reserved for the two most powerful petrol engines, while Linear and Vector can both be had with a Sport option. All but the most basic entry-level model are well equipped.

Trade view

John Owen

Essentially an upmarket Vectra - but remarkably good to drive. Load space a bit tight

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Go for the 1.9 150bhp turbodiesel and you can expect fuel economy of 47.9mpg. The less powerful diesel is even more frugal, but it trades performance for this economy. The 2.8 V6 Turbo guzzles too much fuel for our liking, but the other turbo petrols are easy on fuel.

Running a Saab 9-3 Sport Wagon is not likely to hurt your bank balance unless you opt for the 2.8 Turbo Aero model, as its insurance and service costs undercut those of rivals from Audi, BMW and Mercedes. You could save even more cash by using one of the dedicated Saab specialists for servicing, although Saab’s franchised dealers are notably cheaper than its German counterparts.

According to Warranty Direct, Saabs are also cheaper to repair than the 9-3’s rivals, so a parking bump or scrape will set you back less cash too.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Good looks and supported by decent engines. Still feels a little GM

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

Above all, make sure it fits in with your lifestyle. If you have to carry large loads, the 9-3 could leave you wanting. But, if you need only a bit of extra capacity over the saloon, read on.

There are no great concerns with reliability as far as the 9-3 is concerned, so long as its 18,000-mile service intervals have been kept to. Some of the interior trim is not quite as robust as you may expect of a Saab, but the Sport Wagon generally ranks very well.

Owners also find very little to moan about - the 9-3 scores well in the JD Power satisfaction survey, and it performs better than the company's other models for reliability.

Trade view

John Owen

Essentially an upmarket Vectra - but remarkably good to drive. Load space a bit tight

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford
Haymarket Logo What Car? is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media
What Car? is part of Haymarket Motoring
© Haymarket Media Group 2014