2008 Saab 9-3 Review

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2017
The Car Connection
2017
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director

Although the 2008 Saab 9-3 isn’t as stylish and recognizable, it is a unique and stealthy alternative to more frequently seen small sport sedans.

To compile this review regarding the Saab 9-3 sedan, the experts at TheCarConnection.com looked to some of the Web’s most respected review sources. And to make the review especially useful and informative, they incorporated their own experience driving the 9-3.

With the discontinuation of the 9-2X, the 2008 Saab 9-3 is the smallest model in Saab’s lineup. Actually a roomy model that borders on mid-size, the 9-3 comes in sedan and versatile wagon (SportCombi) body styles, as well as a convertible. The wagon and convertible are covered under separate reviews.

The 2008 Saab 9-3 comes in two models: base and Aero. A 210-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine powers the base model, while the high-performance Aero model gets a 255-horsepower, 2.8-liter turbocharged V-6 engine. Both models come with a six-speed manual transmission, with an automatic transmission optional on each—five-speed for the base, six-speed for the Aero. At the top of the range is the Turbo X model, which brings a more powerful, 280-horsepower version of the turbo V-6 and an all-wheel-drive system.

The 2008 Saab 9-3 Aero models get a lowered sport-tuned suspension to take advantage of the added power, and the Turbo X gets an even more aggressive setup, along with upgraded brakes, Y-rated tires, and rear body leveling. Inside, it also garners carbon-fiber trim and a different steering-wheel design, and it's available in only Jet Black Metallic.

The 2008 Saab 9-3 Turbo X model’s electronic limited-slip differential manages power from side to side to help maintain grip and poise in very enthusiastic on-the-road driving.

Base 9-3 models offer plenty of performance from their 210-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which is remarkably refined and composed, and it works well with the automatic transmission.

The base model of the 2008 Saab 9-3 has a firm ride that’s absorbent enough for driving on rough, urban highways, but the Aero models have a stiffer tuning that’s less comfortable and transmits some coarser surfaces as road noise. Handling is a strong suit; the 9-3 has better steering than most front-wheel-drive sport sedans, with good road feel, and the 9-3 feels more agile and tossable than most cars its size.

Inside, the 2008 Saab 9-3 models have Saab’s traditionally stark appearance, which was spiced up a bit with an interior redesign for 2007. Nice, well-bolstered seats bring an upright driving position with a good view outward, but the backseat is very cramped and lacks the legroom to be acceptable for adults. The trunk, however, is quite spacious.

Even base 9-3 models come equipped as luxury cars, with most commonly expected conveniences standard. Aero models add upgraded leather sport seats, xenon cornering headlamps, a moonroof, fog lamps, and a Bose Centerpoint surround-sound system. The options list on the 2008 Saab 9-3 is quite short but includes a navigation system and a Cold Weather Package of headlamp washers and heated seats.

Electronic stability control is standard on all 2008 Saab 9-3 models, as are active head restraints, front side airbags and side-curtain bags for outboard passengers. The 9-3 achieved only middle-of-the-road four-star results for frontal and side impact in the federal government’s tests. It was, however, rated "good" in all of the insurance-affiliated IIHS tests.

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August 22, 2015
2008 Saab 9-3 4-Door Wagon SportCombi Aero

This was my first Saab and I now own 3 of them due to falling in love with Saab engineering; 1st Class.

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A car that does everything right and nothing wrong. This car is a true 4 season car. Great road car too and has been on several multi state outings. Always plenty of room for our bags and things acquired. Yes... + More »
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July 23, 2015
2008 Saab 9-3 4-Door Sedan

Excellent Car for the long haul

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This is my 3rd Saab 9-3 in a row and the engineers did nice job making the improvements needed for a solid built car. My car has only experienced one issue in over 80000 miles and that being a power-steering... + More »
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August 22, 2016
2007 Saab 9-3 5-Door Wagon Automatic

Little Red Wagon

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We bought this car with the Saab overseas purchase program and have enjoyed over 170,000 miles since. I liked it enough to buy a 9-3 convertible used It is a great car I'm mad at GM for killing it
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