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Road Test

Saab 9-3 TTiD Aero

by Stephen Walker

17th November, 2008

Saab 9-3 Aero TTiD 
Location: Benalla, Victoria 
Click on the copyright image for a larger view

The increased volume of sales for diesel engined cars is good news for the environment. The fact that diesel engines use less fuel than petrol engines is well known. But diesels pollute our atmosphere less than petrol engines, too. So driving a diesel is a great way to save the planet. One of the newer diesel players in the prestige market is Saab, the Swedish brand owned by General Motors.

Saab's newest diesel model is the 9-3 Aero TTiD. It's an upmarket mid-size sedan (or convertible or wagon) powered by a 1.9 litre 4 cylinder engine with two-stage turbo charging, coupled to either a six speed manual or an optional six speed automatic transmission.

Power is rated at 132 kW and the torque is a very handy 370 Nm. Further details about the new diesel engine is reported in our news story here. But briefly, the 'charger' works at low revs with a small turbocharger and with a larger turbocharger at higher revs. At mid-range revs, exhaust gas is fed to both chargers. Hence quite an effective surge is available when directed by the accelerator pedal. The only time I noticed any delay in acceleration was at quite low revs with the pedal floored promptly (rather than controlled) whilst changing lanes in near standstill traffic conditions.

One particularly strong advantage of the Saab diesel is the fuel economy. Saab indicates 6.8 litres per 100 kms is the 'rated' fuel consumption on the combined cycle and 5.1 litres per 100 kilometres for the extra-urban cycle. Our consumption figures went close to these controlled test figures. Our average was 6.0 litres per 100 kms during our road test which covered 2,605 kms. Although at one time, before we encountered Sydney traffic conditions on the return trip, we managed just 5.5 litres per 100 kms! How's that for good driving? The driving style was in the traditional manner. That is, at the speed limit where safe and always demonstrating courtesy to fellow motorists who were sharing the road. Obviously, fuel consumption is a key component when considering the Saab 9.3 TTiD's attributes.

Stephen Walker with the Saab 9-3 Aero TTiD 

Click on the copyright image for a larger view

Emission levels are excellent. The automatic Aero TTiD sedan emits just 179 grammes of CO2 per kilometre (as per Saab's emission disclosure). This is quite a low figure, indicating very clearly the distinct advantage of an efficient European turbo diesel to our shared environment.

On this occasion, our drive programme commenced in Sydney and covered a return trip to Melbourne, via the Hume Highway.

Such a drive provided plenty of opportunity to appreciate Saab's new car for the prestige market. The interior is superbly presented. The leather trim looks better than you would normally expect at the Saab's price point. Be assured that the comfort level is non-compromising. Whilst the two-tone effect for the seat surfaces is quite attractive. In fact, interior presentation has become a Saab strong point. The Saab 9-3 Aero TTiD interior admirably demonstrates this aspect. Our drive car was fitted with a "Parchment" interior which featured dark accents and the exterior was "Snow Silver" (a unique and attractive shade of silver).

On the road this new Saab 9-3 feels good. There is plenty of comfort and the driving dynamics are quite satisfying. Although the suspension was a bit awkward on rough surfaces whilst steering around a corner. And the driver's footrest is somewhat softer than usual. The test car was fitted with big tyres, 18" Continental ContiSport Contact 3.

Like other mid-size prestige sedans, the Saab 9-3 has just enough room for two adult passengers in the rear. But the attractive trim and the vehicle's comfort will keep them satisfied.

Boot space is quite effective, offering plenty of opportunity to travel 'heavy'.

Standard equipment includes (but isn't limited to): Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Reach and rake adjustable steering wheel, Heated front seats, Electrically adjustable front seats, Saab Infotainment CD changer (Bose Surround), Automatic Climate Control, Body coloured bumper skirts and sport side skirts plus Dual sports exhaust pipes amongst other features.

Saab 9-3 Aero TTiD 
Location: Brooklyn, NSW 
Click on the copyright image for a larger view

Being a Saab, the new 9-3 Aero TTiD features the usual 'Saabisms'. Such as the ignition key in the console (which is a good idea) and the reverse direction headlamp switch (which is easy to accept).

Prices for the new Saab 9-3 Aero TTiD manual sports sedan begin at $62,600 (RRP). The test car was fitted with optional automatic transmission ($2,500), metallic paint ($1,300) and "Hot Pack" ($4,500) which includes electric sunroof, 18" alloy wheels (4) and bi-xenon head lamps. Therefore, the total price for the very nice Saab 9-3 Aero TTiD automatic, as tested, was $70,900 (RRP). At this price, the Saab holds its automotive head high.

The quality interior, the highly regarded safety aspects (which we expect of Saab), the driveability and the exceptional fuel economy make quite a compelling case for the Saab 9-3 Aero TTiD sports sedan. There are lessons for its 'peers' to learn here. That's because Saab's new diesel, in the guise of a mid-size prestige sports sedan (which has a compact 'footprint'), is a superb presentation!

Click on an image for a larger view

Other Saab content: here.

Other General Motors content: here.

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