Fleet News

Saab 9-3 2.2 TiD Vector - 8,313 miles

Review

IT has been a pretty quiet month for the Saab in September after its round Britain exertions in August.

A problem that surfaced last month with the central locking system has reared its head again on a couple of occasions. The car will not unlock by remote, which means you have to use the key in the passenger side door, setting off the alarm in the process.

As alarms go, this one does have a rather funky samba beat to it, and as the car is going back soon there isn't time to take it to our local dealer for a look.

Earlier in its time with us, the 9-3 had an intermittent problem with its fuel injectors, and would default to a go-slow mode from time to time and eventually resulted in the car being declared undriveable by its tester at the time.

It was sent back to Saab UK's headquarters and after some head-scratching from engineers, it received a new set of fuel injectors. Since then it hasn't missed a beat and the problem is a distant memory.

And it has to be said that despite the problems, the 9-3 has been a popular car.

I love the way it looks and plenty of occupants have commented on its interior, which retains the individualistic Saab feel without being ergonomically awkward.

Some of the plastics aren't up to scratch, but the 9-3 is a nice place to be and having done thousands of miles in it, I've found it comfortable and well-appointed.

However, despite covering so many miles I still instinctively try to start the car by pushing the key towards the right of the steering wheel before remembering that the ignition is located between the front seats behind the handbrake.

I guess this is something that can only be overcome by long-term ownership rather than a six-month loan.

The electric memory seats have proved very useful.

I'm setting 'one' and my girlfriend is setting 'two' out of a possible four, and as we are diametrically opposed when it comes to seating arrangements it saves any unnecessary fiddling about.

Just a quick push of the button and the seat glides into place.

In its time with us, the 9-3 has done about 5,000 miles and had more than its fair share of troubles. It has also failed to match its maker's claimed fuel economy figure, managing an average of just 36.7mpg against the official 42.8mpg figure.

The diesel engine's noise at idle also intrudes greatly into the cabin, although things settle down once on the move.

But if we had another model in, and particularly one of the more refined petrol-engined versions, I'm sure there would be plenty of people queuing up to take the keys.

Despite its faults, Saab now has a car that can rival the German marques in the prestige sector.

Company car tax bill 2003/04 (40% tax-payer): £132 per month

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