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9-3, 24-7

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Fri, May 23, 2003

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

9-3, 24-7

By JOHN GRAFMAN I never thought I would say these words. But just a few short weeks ago I found myself speaking with our Managing Editor, Bill, telling him specifically no more cars. As my responsibilities have increased lately, a situation has unfolded whereby it is becoming readily apparent that more and more of my free time was being devoted to writing car reviews. The last thing I needed was one more car to put on that list. So of course what does he do? He brought me another car!

It's not that I don't like cars. I really love ‘em. As a matter of fact I don’t know how I would survive without one. But really how many cars does any one person need? I like most people, need a 99% car. A car that will suit my needs 99 percent of the time. As it so happened that's what are managing editor brought me, the new Saab 9-3 sedan. Being thrust at an editor who wasn’t looking to acquire another set of wheels isn’t the best way to start a relationship. So there it sat, four doors and not a hatchback to be seen anywhere on it, unlike its predecessor. Well at least Saab retained the odd location for the ignition switch between the seats. So for the next several days my dolphin gray colored friend and me were now joined at the hip. The Saab was like my new shadow. Wherever I went, it was sure to follow. But a funny thing happened along the way. Sort of like the odd couple, we developed a symbiotic relationship. I began to respect the Saab for what it was. This was a tight, little, sporty sedan. Overall the 9-3 came fairly well appointed. The styling was unique without being all together quirky. The handling was sufficient as well as the drivetrain, although I don't think anyone will confuse this with a rally car, but who really cares. I'm not on a rally and for that matter I can’t remember the last time we had ice and snow on the streets of LA either. For everyday running around town, the set up works well.

The Saab did have a few things that I thought were in need of a rethink. In particular the additional screen up on the top of the instrument panel nearest the defroster vents seemed redundant. It seemed more distracting than informative. Most if not all the information on that screen was available elsewhere on the vehicle. It also seemed to clutter up the rather clean form of the interior. It became apparent that the material being used on the door panel next to the armrest seemed too squishy. I think they made this from recycled sponges. But I do have to give Saab credit in developing a fairly sophisticated automobile with many interesting systems to it, and still keeping the price within the means of most people. All in all, the Saab represents good value for the dollar. My neighbors all thought the base price was somewhat more than what it was. After days driving around town I began to realize just how sound and well put together this vehicle was. No squeaks, no rattles just an anemic stereo system that, as I understand, was only due to it being a preproduction vehicle. I'm not really sure if all that reverse psychological, mumbo jumbo stuff really works, but I'm willing to give it a try again. Bill, please, no more cars!

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