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!
Fri, May 23, 2003
The LACar Editorial Staff
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
dont 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 wasnt looking to acquire another set of
wheels isnt 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
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 cant 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!