I wasn’t actually complaining when I owned up to my ignorance in not knowing where to put the ignition key on my first outing in the car – as everyone but me probably knows, the Saab spot is actually between the front seats – but when I went on to suggest that some designers were siting the key haphazardly just for the sake of it, Saab took exception, even if my comments had been somewhat tongue-in-cheek.
A Saab spokesman pointed out that the ignition position is a safety feature designed to save the driver’s legs from injury in a crash and, now I know that, I am heartily grateful for their forethought.
The UK is apparently now Saab’s biggest market in the world, with fleet sales for the 9-3 and 9-5 up 121% in March. Saab has always been known as the kind of car which can’t be categorised by the people who drive them, so I was concerned to hear the firm’s UK managing director Jonathan Nash wanting to ‘promote Saab as a more interesting brand’ (FNN, April 28).
If that means it wants to pigeonhole itself into some sort of ‘brand’, I think it will cease to attract the sort of folk like me who despise label-junkies and prefer their badge to be as anonymous as possible – and by ‘anonymous’ I don’t mean bland.
Now I’ve handed over the Saab keys to a colleague and taken on a petrol estate car, I’m really missing the 9-3’s fuel economy. Trips to the petrol station were few and far between with the Saab, as on several occasions I nearly reached its combined fuel consumption of 47.9mpg.
One thing the change has brought to my notice, is that the Saab isn’t particularly quiet at speed – wind noise meant the radio had to be turned right up for comfortable listening.
But even so, I will miss it – and its so-called anonymity.
Model: Saab 9-3 Vector 1.9 TiD 150
Price (OTR): £21,845
CO2 emissions (g/km): 159
Company car tax bill (2005/6) 40% tax-payer: £130 per month
Insurance group: 11
Combined mpg: 47.9
Test mpg: 40.2
CAP Monitor residual value: £7,950/37%
HSBC contract hire rate: £373
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three years/60,000 miles