The 9-3X Factor

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Over Winter, the 9-3X is really put into action, tackling rough country roads and private dirt tracks to take our son to various shooting estates – guns, dogs, wellies and wet clothes. Mountain bikes piled in the back or on the roof, driven to remote forests and used as a temporary pop up restaurant and shelter from stormy skies, it handles it all with ease, and more than a little style.

After all of its hard work, it was about time to give the interior a much need cleansing of Winter wear, as always I was utterly impressed with how fantastic the Saab interior handles the abuse. Not only has it come up beautifully again, but nothing seems to wear, the buttons and fixings, carpets and linings, all perfect. It’s like having a brand new Saab every time I clean it, and on the eve of it’s High Mile Club membership, I never fail to be impressed.

No doubt about it, the 9-3X is a seriously robust piece of kit, but then again, it’s going to be, it’s a Saab.

4 thoughts on “The 9-3X Factor

  1. The post-07 interiors must be better in quality than the button dashes. I’ve sat into numerous 9-3s with the old dash and they all looked pretty bad, especially the buttons and the seats. I sat into (and almost bought) a 2006/7 ‘vert with the new dash and old front (my favourite) which had 96k miles on it and, aside from the need of a vacuum, it looked like new.

    I own an 07’ 9-5 with 90k miles and its interior is perfect. Owning a few other marques at the same time, mostly Volvos, there are a few things re the quality which annoy me. 1) the cheap-o plastic door grab handle is of Fisher-Price quality and squeaks when you pull it. 2) The plastic around the door window, housing the mirror switches is slightly warped. 3) The cupholder is broken and can’t be replaced without removing the dash. 4) Door handle clips regularly fall out leaving exposed screws. Door handles have some ‘slack’ too. 5) Wiper and indicator stalks are of poor quality with far too much play.

    These interior issues are the same on all Dame Edna 9-5s I’ve driven and, aside from those bits, the quality is pretty good. But it kills me that for the sake of probably €2 / car, the user experience could have been vastly improved, esp. re the grab handles.

    Another note is the ridiculous position of the Night Panel, hidden behind the steering wheel. Same with the foglamps. I regularly drive for long periods at night on the motorway and I’ll never get used to the location.

    Nitpicking, but I also think the HVAC controls are mounted too low – especially for a Saab. You do have to take your eyes off the road to adjust them. I used to have an old C70 and much preferred its controls, which could be adjusted through feel alone.

    Finally, I also own a 9-3 OG ‘vert and its quality is fairly good too. The leather on the seats is poor. The Night Panel button is well placed on the old SID unit. However, would you agree that the button HVAC controls are borderline unsafe?! Because I would..! I know you have a similar 9-3 (well, yours is much better) but what’s your opinion of its low placement and array of buttons? I find I have to search for the button I need. Car is at 110k miles now and ‘as new’ aside from the passenger airbag seam coming apart.

    Anyway, the main point is that your car looks in great shape and I suspect a lot of that is to the credit of its owner. Well done and wishing you another 100k more..!

    • Thanks for the comments, always great to get other Saab owner’s feedback and thoughts. Our older 9-3 SportCombi had the new dash and original front end, and agree there, the materials used weren’t as good as the later ones – the gear tunnel was ridiculously thin. Saying that, we’d racked up an impressive 180,000 miles and only sign of real wear was on the rubberised buttons, to more exact, the window switches, they’d chipped, other than that, I really couldn’t fault how well it had worn. When we sold it to its new owner, he commented on how luxurious if felt and it was a real step up for him, it’s now done well over 200,000.

      I do think you can easily get a ‘Friday afternoon’ car though, and I’ve also experienced some of the issues you currently have in your 9-5, I still maintain the older the Saab the better built it will be.

      My OG 9-3 Aero is absolutely spot on, every button, surface and pixel is as it was new, and the leather interior is pretty much perfect too, although I do clean and feed it regularly with Gliptone (now Liquid Leather in the UK)

      One thing I’d have loved to see, is the seating position in Saabs being lower, and that’s across the entire range. Take a Porsche or BMW for example, the seats drop low and give you a spectacular surrounded feel, I believe that would solve the usability issues with button positions you mention 🙂

      Great discussion points, thank you

      • Yes, the 9-3 OG seating position allows me to look eye to eye with some ‘soft roaders’ which is comical. The leather on mine was mistreated by the PO – I did my best to restore it, including filler, dye, cleaner, conditioner from Liquid Leather but despite three attempts, the colour match isn’t correct. I think Saab must have slightly altered it on a yearly basis as my ‘beige’ leather seems to have a more tan / orange hue to it. Still, they don’t look too bad. I might give it another go this summer.

        Your car looks absolutely fantastic. I almost bought an Aero ‘vert 2 years ago and I’m still kicking myself for not doing so. Roof down on a sunny day, couldn’t really ask for anything more…

      • Agree Luke, waiting for the weather to change, then the Aero roof goes down. Just need to add a big intercooler so that the 280+ hp stays when the sun shines.

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