Following a trip to the local dealer which failed to cure the problem, a visit to Saab UK saw the fuel injectors replaced and this seems to have done the job. And to ensure the miscreant parts had been finally hunted down and caught, I volunteered to take the car on holiday for a two-week 1,200 mile round trip.
It seemed a perfectly sensible idea at the time but in retrospect it could have gone horribly wrong if the fault had recurred and I was trapped in deepest Cornwall with a grumbling engine and an even more grumbly girlfriend.
Fortunately there was not a squeak of protest from the shiny new injectors.
However, not all went smoothly. The car was parked for a week at an airport and on returning from the flight at three in the morning, I found the remote locking system totally dead.
For any Saab drivers stuck in the same spot, if you pull the plastic plug-cum-key apart, there is a metal key.
Under a plastic cap on the passenger side door handle, there is a manual lock which gives you access to the car, with a resulting multi-decibel alarm. Thereafter, I had no trouble with the locking system.
I've said before how much I like the look of the 9-3 inside and out, and nothing has changed my opinion. It is also comfortable in the front, helped by the heated leather seats.
In Vector trim they come with electronic memory which remembers four different drivers' positions, which is handy because electrically-adjustable seats turn all drivers into inveterate fiddlers.
After a number of weeks driving the 9-3, I have also come to appreciate the fantastic grip from the 17-inch Pirelli P Zero Rosso tyres in the wet or dry, which give you plenty of confidence and do not struggle with the low-down grunt of a diesel engine as some tyres tend to. I'm still not convinced about the engine though, which after a stint in our BMW 320d felt like stepping back into the dark ages of diesel motoring.
The Saab's engine sounds and feels rough and is not even quiet at cruising speeds. The sooner it gets a new common rail unit, the better.
But if I was in the market for car in this sector, the Vector specification with a petrol engine would have to be worth a look as a refreshing, handsome and eclectic choice.
Company car tax bill 2003/04 (40% taxpayer): £153 per month