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Original MSRP: $27,495 - $33,700
MPG: 22 City / 30 Hwy
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2007 Saab 9-3 Wagon Performance

This performance review was written when the 2007 Saab 9-3 Wagon was new.

The 9-3 SportCombi is described as a "quite pleasant" driving experience by the Detroit News and others, thanks to a strong powertrain and nimble handling. However, several reviewers are disappointed at the absence of all-wheel drive.

Acceleration and Power

Most describe the 2007 Saab 9-3 SportCombi's 2.0T's engine, a turbocharged four-cylinder with 210 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque, as an adequate performer. However, the general consensus prefers the Aero's 2.8-liter, six-cylinder engine with 250 horsepower.

Forbes says the SportCombi base engine "generates acceptable acceleration" while Consumer Guide  finds the 2.0T SportCombi engine "fairly quick." However, Consumer Guide later recalls "passing response dulled by brief turbo lag," summing up the opinions of those disappointed with the 2.0T's power.

Road and Track calls the Aero's V6 "terrifically smooth and quiet," while Edmunds praises its punch. "While horsepower numbers impress your friends, torque is what you feel in the seat of your pants, and the V6 has lots of it. The engine pumps out 258 lb-ft from 2,000 to 4,500 rpm, which make it a member of the flat torque curve club. Most amazing, however, is that the SportCombi puts that power to the pavement without any torque steer."

Reviewers note your engine preference is a trade-off of power and money. Car and Driver finds the Aero has the power the 2.0T lacks, enough "to twirl the speedo needle to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds." The Los Angeles Times achieves similar numbers when driving the Aero with a six-speed manual transmission. "Stick the car in the long-legged sixth gear and it will motor effortlessly from Malmo to Stockholm," its writer jokes. Meanwhile, other writers explain the 2.0T is a good choice for the budget conscious. "Were I buying a 9-3, I'd much prefer the four-cylinder engine -- a 2.0 liter turbo that puts out just 40 fewer horsepower than the V6 -- with the 6-speed manual...while it's no speed demon, it's much more willing to put the power to the ground than the V6 automatic, plus it's much more economical," About.com notes.

With an automatic transmission, the Environmental Protection Agency rates the 2.0T SportCombi at 18 miles per gallon in the city, 27 miles per gallon on highways. The Aero SportCombi with an automatic transmission receives a rating of 15 miles per gallon in the city, 26 on highways. With a manual transmission, the 2.0T 9-3 SportCombi receives an EPA rating of 19 miles per gallon in the city, 28 mpg on highways, while the Aero rates at 16 miles per gallon in the city, 26 mpg on highways.

Both of the 2007 Saab 9-3 SportCombi's trims come standard with a six-speed manual transmission that several reviewers call imprecise. The Detroit Free Press reports the shifter is "a bit notchy," while AutoWeek chooses the word "rubbery." However, "opting for the rubbery manual makes for a slightly quirkier ride, which is probably what real Saabophiles want," the reviewer concludes. Drivers also have an option for an automatic transmission -- a five-speed or six-speed Sentronic for the 2.0T and Aero, respectively.

Handling and Braking

The 2007 Saab 9-3 SportCombi is generally regarded as a smooth handler with just enough sportiness to live up to its name. Consumer Guide categorizes the wagon as "firm, poised" and "nimble," while USA TODAY claims "steering, braking and cornering all were crisp and sporty without imposing harshness or hair-trigger reactions."

Road and Track's reviewer is just one to highlight the SportCombi's MacPherson-strut front suspension with an independent four-link rear, especially as it includes Saab's Re-Axs passive rear-wheel steering system, "tuned to please both Mrs. Smith when she's carting the kids around and Mr. Smith when he wants to crank the pace up a notch." Edmunds also likes Re-Axs, saying it works "transparently to give the SportCombi a glued-to-the-ground feel in high-speed sweepers...it allows the rear wheels to turn slightly when the car is thrown into a corner at high speed, increasing lateral grip and stability."

Re-Axs complements a power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system that's described as precise but a little light overall. However Newsday notices the light steering only at high speeds, and Automotive.com concedes the 9-3 SportCombi's light feel is "not enough to detract from the fun-to-drive factor."

The Saab 9-3 SportCombi's four-wheel disc, power-assisted anti-lock brakes "inspired" Edmunds, who notes the pedal is "firm yet progressive, nose dive is minimal, and we didn't detect any ABS vibration or brake fade over several repeated hard stops." AutoWeek specifically tested the SportCombi's stopping distance. "Stopping from 60 mph, the Saab turned in a respectable 121-foot performance," its writer reports. The 9-3 SportCombis also come with a traction control system and electronic stability control, appreciated by USA TODAY for being present but not as overzealous as competitors' systems. "Some wheelspin helps you keep going in sand or deep snow, and spinning the tires can just be plain fun."

However, writers disapprove of all-wheel drive omission. "The SportCombi doesn't have all-wheel drive like competitors Volvo V50 and Audi A4 Avant. Nor does it have rear-wheel drive like the BMW 330xi, so at the theoretical handling limits the car suffers by comparison," the Los Angeles Times explains. The Sacramento Bee also chides Saab, writing that "long-time buyers of upscale European cars have come to expect" all-wheel drive.

Review Last Updated: 5/2/08

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