Date: Mon, 01 Sep 2003 23:22:18 -0700
From: Joe Gugliemino <jgoogsnopsamteme.charter.net>
Subject: Re: Starting to shop - Done!


Well, it didn't take as long as I thought it would. About a month after I originally posted I ended up buying a dark blue/tan 2000 9-3 SE. I love the car. It's been a while since I drove a car that had anything remotely resembling balls (my '83 Mustang GT). It's crisp, handles well, and makes my commute more enjoyable. My wife wouldn't go for an older car so we compromised on an off-lease car. Another newsgroup reader (thanks Bob!) referred me to a dealer who specializes as a buyers broker at the monthly car auctions. We talked, and he mailed me upcoming auction inventory. I picked a few, gave him my limit, and waited. I ended up getting my first choice. While high on miles (60k) I saved over $5k compared to used cars on the Saab dealer lots. The plusses: - The most comfortable car I've ever ridden in. I didn't believe all the buzz about their seats, but they are great. My wife loves the leather. And that they're heated. I like the 3-person memory setting. It makes switching between us a snap. - The turbo has minimal lag and delivers power right in the range where I need it. It's great for getting on highways or passing/changing lanes. The rest of the time it idles and doesn't eat into my 30 mpg. I've specifically tried to get into (controlled) torque steer situations and have found it a non-issue. - The ergonomics took a while to get used to, but once I did I think they've done a fine job of locating things. The cruise control is especially unique, and - I think - easier to use than other cars I've driven. The buttons are so dissimilar that there's no getting confused. Other cars we've owned have had their cruise buttons located on the steering wheel but not always doing the same things. "Now is the top button set or resume in this car? No ambiguities with the Saab. - I'm a gadget fiend so I like fooling around with the computer and the weather radio. At some point it'll get old, but not yet. And I really like the night display where everything but the speedometer dims. - Tons of room in the trunk. I wasn't able to fit my bike in the hatch, but everything else I've needed to put in has fit. The minuses: - There is no interior space!!! I have the driver's seat all the way back, so only a small child can sit behind me. Fortunately I have one and he sits there, but it'll be interesting as he grows. There's no place to put all the junk that you normally have in a car. My Palm, cell phone, and sunglasses occupy the small shelf in front of the shift. Under the armrest is useless space. The glove box is small. And having only a single cup holder is amazingly short-sighted. But seeing as this is primarily a commuter car I can live with it. - The driver's side mirror doesn't tilt out far enough for me. I have a blind spot right before my peripheral vision can pick up a passing car. I want a wide-angle mirror for the driver's side. A mechanic I talked to told me I need to order a passenger side mirror for a right-drive (U.K.) car, but the Saab parts web sites I've found don't seem to have it available. For the short term I went to Wal-mart and got one of those stick-on fish-eye mirrors and pasted it to the mirror. It's ugly, but it does the trick. If anybody has a pointer to the real thing, I'd appreciate it. - The shift throw is long and clunky. Sometimes when I'm about to downshift it doesn't seem to want to come out of gear - it takes a little extra nudge. I don't know if it's a quirk of this car and always been that way, or if that's the way all Saabs are, or if I maybe really do have a problem and am living in denial. Usually it's so slight as to be almost unnoticeable, but I wish it were more smooth. - The radio is sub par. I've brought in music that I know well, and parts I expect to hear - like a distinctive guitar rift - don't stand out as well as they should. I've tweaked the treble/bass/fade and made it sound better, but I'd expect a car like this to sound really good. Maybe a stereo upgrade is in my future. Does anybody know if the standard Saab single-disc CD player can handle MP3's? It seems like a gadget car should be able to, but I don't want to experiment. Sorry for the long post. Overall it's a great car. If it holds up as long as I expect it to I'll have gotten more than my money's worth. I had been really blah about looking for a car this time around. I'm really happy to have found a car I like as much as I do this one. -- - Joe (To respond directly, remove the 'deleteme' from my address)

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