Work­ing 9-3 to keep pace with its ri­vals

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - FEATURES -

Ger­man. Spooky re­li­a­bil­ity and dash­boards mod­elled on your side­board stood them in good stead for a long time but more re­cently, big horse­power fig­ures and sharky styling have been re­lied upon to draw the cus­tomers in. The 9-3 TTiD 180bhp model cov­ered here is a vari­a­tion on this theme, blessed with a twin-tur­bocharged diesel pow­er­plant and a front end that’s more ag­gres­sive than a bas­ket of honey badgers. 180bhp is a use­ful amount to squeeze from a 1.9-litre diesel en­gine. Get­ting big power from a com­par­a­tively small ca­pac­ity en­gine has helped Saab re­tain a strong fuel econ­omy show­ing and keep weight down. This is weight over the front axle too, right where it could have high­lighted the short­com­ings of a pow­er­ful front-wheeldrive car. Saab mod­els of the past of­ten had trou­ble de­ploy­ing their hefty bhp out­puts ef­fec­tively. As the tur­bocharger got into its stride and the wave of torque hit, the front wheels would strug­gle for grip. To­day’s front-wheeldrive 9-3 mod­els ef­fec­tively over­come these prob­lems with a care­fully-honed chas­sis achiev­ing su­pe­rior grip and the smooth power de­liv­ery of the TTiD unit.

The en­gine uses a pair of tur­bocharg­ers work­ing in se­quence. A smaller blower spools up quickly to boost pulling power at low revs while the big hit­ter comes on stream once the en­gine’s into its stride. It all helps make this 9-3 TTiD an ami­able com­pan­ion for ev­ery­day driv­ing.

The lat­est im­proved 9-3 in­her­ited its dra­matic frontal styling from the Aero X con­cept car that caused quite a stir at the 2006 Geneva mo­tor­show. It’s def­i­nitely not short of ag­gres­sion and the 9-3’s malev­o­lent front end seems sure to have the de­sired ef­fect on out­side lane dawdlers when it looms up in their rear view mir­rors. The 9-3 has been cam­paign­ing since 2002 and it’s no longer feel­ing as fresh as it once did in com­par­i­son to the big guns in the com­pact ex­ec­u­tive sec­tor. The in­te­rior is not with­out its mer­its, how­ever, with ex­cel­lent seats and sim­ple con­trols.

With a con­vert­ible, a sa­loon and a Sport­Wagon es­tate, the 9-3 cov­ers a fair bit of ground. Saab are only ask­ing a premium of around £500 over the 160bhp model but even, pric­ing in the £23,000-£28,000 bracket puts this car di­rectly up against some very stiff com­pe­ti­tion. Which is why the low run­ning costs are so im­por­tant.

The 9-3 is show­ing its age in some key ar­eas when com­pared to its long­stand­ing Ger­man ad­ver­saries but the re­freshed styling and the car’s core strengths mean it still has some­thing to of­fer.

Av­er­age fuel econ­omy of nearly 63mpg and an 8sec­ond 0-60mph sprint are not to be sniffed at.

AG­GRES­SIVE EDGE: Saab’s lat­est 9-3 boasts a 180bhp TTiD en­gine and new styling.

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