Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 09:43:40 -0600
From: Gavin Haslett <>
Subject: Re: 9-3 not a performance car?

Well... actually you'll tend to find that Saab enthusiasts ARE driving enthusiasts too... they're often the same people who were going to buy a BMW from across the road but wanted to look a little different on the road. I don't know much about the 9-3... I've never even driven one (except a test-drive in a Viggen... WOOOHOOO!!!), but my 1996 900SEt is definitely a driving enthusiast's car. The suspension is taut enough for spirited handling, but gives enough to give you a good ride... I think you'll find the tires are the cause of your issues rather than the suspension. I seem to recall finding the ride mushy when I had Michelins on... then I got some Falkens I hated and recently got some Z-rated Fulda's which I find give me a perfect balance of handling and ride. I love nothing more on the weekends than packing up my family into my Saab with maybe a picnic lunch in the trunk, then cruising down the twisties in the boonies of Illinois and Missouri with the windows open and the sunroof cranked open, throwing the car into corners and accelerating down straightaways with a manic grin on my face. Of course, whether my family appreciates it as much as me is a matter of some debate ;) I personally came down to a toss-up between a BMW 325i and a 900SE Turbo... both the same model year and similarly equipped. While I agree at first the turbo lag was a little disappointing in the 900, I found that once it spooled up I got the feeling that the Saab could accelerate forever. The BMW like most normally aspirated cars began to feel breathless at 40 or 50mph... not really out of performance but starting to feel the pinch of not being able to get enough air. Handling was a coin-toss between the two despite the crappy Michelins on the 900. When test-driving both cars I made sure I told the dealership I would be gone for at least an hour... and that I was going to take it on a test drive on roads I knew well. If they disagree... well there's enough competition in both markets in St. Louis that I could go to another dealership and told them as much. On driving both cars I found that the 325i was a capable car... good around town and very nice handling. However, it wasn't without its problems. Despite many people claiming BMW are the perfect drivers cars... there was something about it I really didn't warm to. There was also the fact that during the test drive I remember seeing a BMW at every corner and every stop-light. Coming from a Subaru SVX to that made me feel odd because you NEVER see another SVX unless it's someone you know! Anyway, I still seriously considered it. The 900 was actually harder to warm up to at first... mostly because the first 6 miles from the dealership were town-road miles. While the engine felt good (and you gotta LOVE that deep exhaust note), it paled in off-the-line performance next to the 325 I'd driven just the previous day. Actually it paled next to my SVX too. Handling-wise though it was at least as good as the BMW. I also found the seats to be a LOT more comfortable in the Saab... more supportive on my back (which I do have problems with), and easy to get comfortable in. Getting out on the highway though was a revelation! I floored it on an up-hill on-ramp and found myself launching into orbit. That's what it felt like anyway. Constant and unflappable acceleration all the way up to 85... which I only slowed down because I realized I was actually on a 60mph stretch of highway! ;) Anyway, I found passing power to be excellent and I've yet to feel as if my Saab was "out of breath"... except maybe on initial launch before the turbo spools. I have to say that as both a Saab and a driving enthusiast... the Saab changed me a little in what I looked for in a car. It definitely sold me on the merits of forced induction... and thus my latest vehicle in addition to the Saab is a Pontiac Grand Prix GTP... supercharged V6. Not half the car the Saab is... and definitely not as comfortable seats... but still a damned fine car in its own right... and much cheaper to fix than either the Saab or a BMW!!! Sorry for the long rant... just wanted to get my point across. The Saab IS an enthusiast's car... never doubt it. -- Gavin Haslett "Ahhhh... Mountain Dew... nectar of the geeks!"

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