Used Saab 9-3 Saloon 2002 - 2012 review

Category: Executive car

The Saab 9-3 is a great place to sit, but keen drivers should look away now

Saab 9-3 Saloon (02 - 12)
  • Saab 9-3 Saloon (02 - 12)
  • Saab 9-3 Saloon (02 - 12)
Used Saab 9-3 Saloon 2002 - 2012 review
Star rating

What's the used Saab 9-3 saloon like?

Where it's good, it's very good. The Saab 9-3 has extremely comfortable seats, a sound driving position with a wide range of adjustment, a no-nonsense layout for the controls and the clearest instruments you're likely to find.

In the front, there's good headroom and adequate legroom. There's decent space in the back, too, although shoulders will rub with three rear passengers. The boot is large, and you can fold down the split back seat for extra space.


The Saab 9-3 is a great place to sit, but keen drivers should look away now

  • The 9-3 is superbly comfortable and has well laid out controls and decent space in the rear
  • Poor body control, soggy handling
  • dull steering and an unsettled ride mar the drive

There are some good engines in a largely turbocharged line-up. Most are quiet on a cruise, and the 9-3 does a reasonable job of shutting out unwanted noise from outside.

The trouble is, there's bad news as well. The 9-3 is based on the Vectra platform, but you'd never tell from its soggy handling and the way it thumps over bumps. The steering, too, is about as communicative as a corpse. If you're after finesse, fun or flair, this is not your car.

Ownership cost

What used Saab 9-3 saloon will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Saab 9-3 saloon?

A used 9-3 will be cheaper to buy than an equivalent Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

Steer clear of the 2.8T turbo, and you should get more than 30mpg in normal driving. In fact, most of the petrols are good for mid-30s, and you can bump that up to low-40s for the 150bhp 1.9 TiD, and potentially more than 50mpg for the 120bhp version.

Our recommendations

Which used Saab 9-3 saloon should I buy?

There are just two non-turbocharged engines - a flexible 122bhp 1.8 petrol and, on a few early cars, a decent 150bhp 2.3 petrol. At the other end of the scale sit the turbocharged 247bhp 2.8T and 210bhp 2.0T. Both are fast, but can overwhelm the chassis and steering.

The punchy 2.0t puts out 175bhp, but our favourite petrol is the 150bhp 1.8t, which actually has a 2.0-litre engine.

Overall, though, none of the petrols are a match for the strong 1.9 TiD turbodiesel, which comes with 120bhp or 150bhp. We'd go for the 150bhp, given the money, but either is better than the earlier 115bhp 2.2 TiD.

You'll get plenty of kit whichever you buy. Expect four electric windows, remote central locking, alloy wheels, air-con and plenty of safety devices. More powerful versions have leather seats and climate control, while range-topping Aero trim means firmer suspension, extra body kit and sports seats.

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