Saab 9-3 Sportwagon
Finding something which sets a car apart from others nowadays is much more difficult than it used to be.
Standards are universally considerably higher than they used to be and many manufacturers are offering an awful lot of car for the money.
Some offer a slight edge with performance, others with luxury while many use technology and gadgetry to catch our eye, but what is it that makes any car attractive?
In my own mind, a good car can either impress from the outset or 'grow on you'; whereas a not-so-good car might have all the selling points under the sun and yet never inspire. A few days in the company of the Saab 9-3 SportWagon taught me that when a design is right it will impress, regardless of any sales gimmickry.
The Saab is understated, modest, even demure - yet within a couple of minutes of driving I felt so comfortably at home behind the wheel that it felt as though I'd owned it for months. The leather seats were very comfy, the driving position was just about 'perfect' and the instrument panel, even though it's still reminiscent of much earlier Saab models was wonderfully intuitive and user-friendly. No degrees in computer science required to change radio channels in this one!
Saab made a bit of a name for themselves in the 70s and 80s with the 'Saab Turbo' - an impressive and desirable car which even then had a certain stature and polish. Nowadays, the performance is still top-notch, but the refinements in power, economy and handling have made it a really mature and sophisticated option. What has most impressed me about it though, is the price. With the SE model costing the same as a Vauxhall Astra 2.0 CDTi auto or a CitroĆ«n Grand C4 Picasso MPV 1.6 e-HDi it offers a hell of a lot of car for a truly reasonable sum.
Now you may have some sort of preconception that this gargantuan Scandinavian 'ogre' of a car is going to have a thirst like Lawrence of Arabia, but you'd be wrong. For a car that offers sub-10 second figures on a 0-62mph figure and belts out 160 horsepower, it is still able to return an incredible Combined Fuel Economy of 62.8 MPG!
The most impressive thing about the Saab 9-3 SportWagon is that it doesn't set out to impress. It has the air of a comfortable pair of slippers, but a pair in which you could conquer the earth.
Model Driven: Saab 9-3 SportWagon SE 1.9TTiD
Cost OTR £24,120