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Used car focus: Saab 9-3 saloon – 2002 onwards

The Saab 9-3’s appeal is in its image. Less flash than a BMW and less brash than a Mercedes-Benz, it’s the subtle choice for the buyer looking for a powerful engine and a comfortable, but sporty, drive with understated style and distinction.


The 9-3 comes in Linear, Arc and Vector standard trims, and a high-performance Aero spec. Linear models get 15in alloys, CD/radio, headlamp washers, and leather steering wheel. Arc adds 16in wheels, leather upholstery, front fog lamps, cruise control, on-board computer and climate control. Range-topping Vector models gain a metal-look interior trim, colour-coded body mouldings, 17in alloy wheels, leather/textile sports seats, sports steering wheel and gearknob. Sport Aero models have the same basic specification as Vector, but with 17in five-spoke alloy wheels, a sports kit and rear spoiler.


Like previous Saabs, the 9-3 is based on a Vauxhall – this time the Vectra. But it’s far better to drive and the firm’s engineers have given it a ‘Saab feel’. The ride is smooth without being wallowy. Cornering is light, with direct steering.


Outstanding adjustable seats with a multi-adjustable steering wheel. Front passengers get loads of legroom. It’s classy in the three-seat rear too.


The 2.2 diesel combines torquey urge with good economy - unsurprisingly, it’s been a strong seller. 2004 saw the launch of a new 120bhp 1.9D and a 1.9 TiD with 150bhp. Petrol engines are refined and lively. The 1.8 and 2.0t are fast and able motorway cruisers. The 2.0T turbo provides vivid acceleration.


This car has a five-star Euro NCAP rating. The all-new body is tough and all models come with driver, passenger and side airbags, ABS and EBD, strong deadlocks, unique-fit stereo and advanced alarm/immobiliser.

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