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To bring you this inclusive review on the 2009 Saab 9-3, editors scoured the Web for input and insight from reviewers and combined them with their own firsthand driving impressions, so you can feel confident that you have all the information.
- Base turbo engine is both strong and fuel-efficient
- Crisp steering and great handling
- Nice interior design
- Pricey, even compared against luxury competitors
- Too-firm ride in Aero and Turbo X
- Cut-rate GM switchgear is obvious in a few cases
The Saab 9-3 is a roomy compact model that borders on mid-size, despite the fact that it's now the smallest model in Saab's lineup. The 9-3 comes in sedan and versatile wagon (SportCombi) body styles, as well as a convertible.
The 2009 Saab 9-3 comes in two models: base and Aero. A 210-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine propels the base model, while the high-performance Aero model gets a 280-hp, 2.8-liter turbocharged V-6 engine (the figures represent a new boost in horsepower for 2009). At the top of the range is the Turbo X model, which brings a stronger, 280-hp version of the turbo V-6 and an all-wheel-drive system. 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. For 2009, Saab's XWD all-wheel-drive system is optional on 2.0T models.
Saab's electronic limited-slip differential manages power from side to side to help maintain grip and poise in very enthusiastic on-the-road driving. For 2009, it's standard on the Aero V-6 XWD, as well as the Turbo X.
A lowered sport-tuned suspension is added to the 2009 Saab 9-3 Aero models 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.