Our 9-3 SportCombi Aero is a really good car. I'm withholding the word 'great' for now, because it's still not quite on the level of some other cars I like to drive. Engine output is on the excessive side of adequate, but if you can keep the turbo out of boost, it gets really good fuel economy. Set it on cruise and you could see mpg figures in the high 20s.
Get into the throttle hard and you fly down the road to the tune of 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. That's serious power in a car this size, but therein lies a problem. The 9-3 Aero is currently available with front-wheel drive only, and torque-steer at hard throttle has an undeniable presence. Most people won't ever drive hard enough for it to become an issue, but those of us with lead feet need to hang onto the wheel with both hands. On delivery, Saab actually pointed out that the biggest criticism received is the lack of an all-wheel-drive option, and the company is reportedly debating a solution.
The SportCombi's cabin is predictably spacious, especially with the rear seats folded down. I took the car camping and slept comfortably in the back. That night it rained really hard, and the next morning we had to drive across flooded dirt roads to get back onto the pavement. I was worried at first-here I am in my Saab, while my pop and his buddy, Bob, are both driving 4x4 super duty pick-ups. Turns out the big puddles were only modestly muddy and the SportCombi cut through with ease. I would have been much more worried in a rear-wheel-drive car; in this case, front-drive was the better choice. All-wheel-drive would have been better still. -KF