What's the used Saab 9-3 estate like?
The Saab 9-3 Sport Wagon is Saab's take on the small executive lifestyle estate and 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.
Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Saab 9-3 estate?
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.
What are the most common problems with a used Saab 9-3 estate?
Is a used Saab 9-3 estate reliable?
What used Saab 9-3 estate will I get for my budget?
How much does it cost to run a Saab 9-3 estate?
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.
Which used Saab 9-3 estate should I buy?
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.
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