What do 161,000 miles look like in a Saab?

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When I tell people the mileage on our SportCombi, I usually get asked the same questions – how does it drive, and how does it look and feel?

The first is easy, it drives beautifully and without fault, everything works superbly, it feels tight, the gear change is reassuringly smooth and it really is a pleasure to drive.

So, how does it look and feel?

161,000 miles isn’t a huge amount for a Saab; the members of the High Mile Club prove this, but generally, all but the best marques have a tendency to show their miles rather unflatteringly. Obviously Saabs aren’t impermeable to wear and tear, however, with a little care, their design and build quality really do hold up superbly.

I treated our 2007 TiD SportCombi to a well deserved interior valet today, and as I stood back and admired my labour, I was seriously impressed with how it’s standing up to the daily family abuse and mileage we throw at it.

I thought I’d share a few photos just to show why I’m impressed. The cream leather of the sports seats is aging well, the drivers seat is worn slightly, (I’ve seen far worse on a car with 16,000), the glove box button is losing its rubber coating, the aluminium gear knob insert is slightly worn, and a small thread is coming loose on the steering wheel stitching.

None of us really know how long a car will last, how long is will remain reliable, but I can’t see any reason why it won’t stay like this for another few hundred thousand miles. If we did change, it would only be replaced with another Saab SpotCombi with a few less miles, so for now, I’ll continue to enjoy watching the miles go by in superb comfort.

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Saab Science

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We’ve been to the Science Museum in London many times, and each time the first thing I head for is the entire wall stacked with beautifully simple, primary coloured cars. I can only really tell you what 2 of the marques are though, one is an early VW Beetle, and the other is a stunningly elegant Saab 93 (not a 96 as I’d mistakenly put – thanks UKSaabs).

I can’t really tell you what the display represents either, but the Saab 93 catches my eye every single time – the pale duck egg blue paintwork, chrome hub covers and original SAAB mud flaps, but above all, I  stand and admire its form, the flowing, curvaceous profile the elegant windows, the grille.

Whatever the Saab is there for, it truly deserves its pride of place on the wall of one of the finest Science Museums in the world, and if you’re ever in the area, pop in and admire it, if only for a few moments, inspiration, Saab style.

Three top marques sitting in a row

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An interesting view in my car park today, a row of three top marques; Saab, BMW and Mercedes, side by side, with nothing to hide, two in a deep carbon grey, and the third in an ice white.

I found it interesting to compare the visual styling and stance of the three cars, and forgetting the age difference, I have to say, the 9-3 just looks exceptionally sharp.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve owned plenty BMW’s & Mercedes, and enjoyed them all, but this is about simple visual appeal, and the Saab wins hands down in my eyes.

SportCombi Design Study

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Cleaning cars may be a thankless task at this time of year, but looking on the bright side, you get to admire the car’s design in detail.

Giving the SportCombi a scrub up over the weekend, I yet again, found myself smiling. No matter how many other estate cars I see on the road, old or new, none have the same individuality or beauty of the Saab 9-3.

The form of the elegant rear lights, the curve of the rear windscreen, the simple, brushed chrome strip, all combine to give the Saab unique style amongst a sea of rather bland alternatives. All this from a design that’s been around for the past 10 years or so. I’m truly hoping that NEVS are able to honour this long standing design uniqueness and give us a Saab SportCombi that, yet again leads the way.

Note the reflection of the photographer, I was being extremely lazy and couldn’t be bothered the move the 900 to get a better shot, saying that, I turned around and caught a glimpse of the 900’s interior, roll on Spring.

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Saab Winterings

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It’s been difficult weather here in the UK, especially for taking photos of Saabs, wind, rain, hail, you name it, we’ve had it. But then came the snow and ice; crisp mornings, where everything looks as though it’s been painted white, so out came the camera.

The car isn’t clean, but I love the contrast between the deep grey and white, and it reminds me just how exceptional the 9-3’s design is.

As the snow falls, I can’t help feeling a little snug that I drive Saabs, they’re great in this kind of weather. My old 9-5 Aero auto, had a very special W button, it had magic powers, press it, and driving in Winter conditions was a real pleasure. The 9-3 is a manual, but I’m always amazed at how well it handles in the snow, and as for the 900 classic, brilliant, it must be the weight of the thing.

And did I mention the other Saab innovation that I just couldn’t live without in Winter, the heated seats, oh and…

The Saab Light Fantastic Part Two

Driving back from London late Sunday night, pouring rain and winds outside, warm, cosy and relaxed inside, I looked in the rear view mirror to see both of my children happily curled up, and suddenly had a flashback to my childhood.

I remember being very contented when I was in the back of my parents car, the worse the weather on the outside, the nicer it was to be inside. It felt warm and safe, I loved watching the rain on the windows, the dappled lights of other cars as they passed by, but most of all, I loved looking through the space between the front seats and staring at the lights warmly glowing from the dashboard. It offers a very different view of the interior, and one we drivers never really get to enjoy in its full glory.

Having driven a myriad of other brands I would put a Saab’s interior illumination up against any. I’ve loved the distinctive and regimented orange glow of BMW, the crisp rich red of Audi, and the powerful white and red of Alfa Romeo, but the past orange and green combination and the current pure green and white of the Saab 9-3 is a thing of beauty.

I’ve found some new dashboard illumination almost irritating, just too much, too many colour variations and no order. This is a huge negative, illumination should be clean, authoritative and highly disciplined in order for it to enhance night driving.

As if reading my mind, my son said “Dad, the lights in the front are really cool, can I have this car instead of the convertible when I’m old enough?”.

Saab’s do have a secret weapon too; the night panel, and driving back home at the weekend in darkness, pouring rain and winds making driving hazardous, I realised it isn’t just an attractive gadget, it really does work.

Pure form and function, very Saab light fantastic.

The Saab Light Fantastic

It’s been a few days since I last managed to add anything, but within that time, Autumn has arrived here in the UK, and the evenings are drawing in fast. By the time I leave work, dusk is already greeting me, it’s not all altogether bad though, I get to admire the 9-3’s exceptional design in a different light.

When nature’s light dims, automotive lights take over, and few are as beautiful as the latest Saab’s. The Saab 9-3 features impeccably designed headlights with a highly individual look, spotting them coming toward me, puts a smile on my face every time.

Distinctive and stylish, the elegant light strip highlights the edge of the Saab’s bonnet, and when darkness really sets in, the perfect circular eyes send powerful beams out into the night.

Occasionally, I’ll be rewarded with a lesser spotted new generation 9-5; they too have the distinctive Saab light fantastic, so next time you see one, look in your rear view mirror as it passes – the beautiful, narrow strip of red light reassures you that Saab really did get it right, in design terms at least.