The 2009 Saab 9-3 is a first cousin to the Chevy Malibu, Opel Vectra and Fiat Croma, but you would have a hard time telling that by just looking. Saab prides itself on engineering, and their engineers have given this car a look, inside and out, that is uniquely its own. You can get it in a sports sedan, convertible or SUV (called the SportCombi). It may be a compact, but it delivers in a big way.
The motor for the 9-3 is an I4 dual overhead cam 2.0 liter cranking out 210 horsepower at 5500 rpms. The base transmission is a six speed manual with overdrive, but you can also get a five speed automatic. This much power naturally pulls down fuel efficiency, but not as much as you might expect. The 9-3 is rated 19 miles per gallon in the city and 29 miles per gallon on the highway.
Inside the 9-3 is a host of gadgets you expect on a modern luxury car, even if it is a small one. Eight way power adjustable driver seat with lumbar support, 60/40 split folding rear bench seat with pass through, leather covered steering wheel and leather front and back seats are all standard. So are a temperature controlled glovebox, cargo area tie-down hooks, steering wheel mounted audio controls, trip computer and voice activated Bluetooth.
The sound system includes speed sensitive volume, and this barely scratches the surface. If you're in the mood to upgrade you can get leather on the instrument panel, three memory adjustments for the driver's seat and a high pressure headlight washer.
When it comes to safety, Saab takes a back seat to no one and the 9-3 is no exception. Airbags everywhere, side guard door beams, automatic locking retractors, inside release trunk, child safety looks on rear doors, keyless entry, remote trunk opener - again, all standard. If you like, you can add a rear electronic parking aid.
To keep all this safe, Saab offers OnStar stolen vehicle tracking, Theftlock radio anti-theft, an engine immobilizer, an alarm and a five year, 100,000 mile warranty. Yes, again, they are all standard.
The 9-3 comes in five trim levels. These include the base model, which is the 2.0T, the Sentronic, which additionally comes in four-wheel drive, and all wheel drive models and the upscale Aero.
this European engineering does not come cheap, of course. The base sticker price for the Saab 2.0Tis $28,835. For the Aero, the base sticker price is $41,885. But there is something to the old saying, "you get what you pay for." If you're willing to pay for top grade European engineering in a compact car, the 2009 Saab G-3 is a good way to go.