Saab 9-3 2.0t Anniversary. A winter dream?

The wind is driving thick snowflakes over the A3. It's cold and uncomfortable when I set off in the Saab 9000 for a test drive with a 9-3 Anniversary. Actually, the conditions are not right on this dull day. But a promise is a promise ...

Saab's last hatchback…

The story begins the weekend before. It's Saturday afternoon, I'm on my way to a friend when a reader's mail arrives. He is looking for a Saab and is interested in an 2002 9-3 Anniversary, which is offered in my area.

A pearl at the used car dealer?

I know the ad, the car has been on sale since October, and I would certainly have looked at the Saab if I had room for another car somewhere. And because the blogger wants to see readers happy, I take a minimal detour to the dealer - without too much expectations. Because the 15-year-old Swede with its 150.000 kilometers is offered in an area where you usually only come across consumption cars. Which is not entirely correct, because the regional Audi center is in the neighborhood.

I'm there 15 minutes later. The Saab parks in the second row, the dealer pushes the key into my hand. Immediately afterwards, waving the maintenance booklet, which is kept amazingly complete. First at the authorized Saab partner, then annually at an independent workshop that is known for good work on vehicles from Trollhättan. Can I find a pearl exactly where you least expect it?

The good, first impression continues. The Saab seems well maintained. Some minor quirks and dents, a small abrasion on the plastic of the bumper. The rear door on the passenger side could have been repainted at some point. But the interior seems like new, all fluids are maintained, the tires have a good profile. I can't find any rust in the usual places quickly. I have to test drive the car. If only because the 150 hp soft turbo has an automatic transmission. I was told that it should develop the temperament of a shifting dune. And that's exactly what I want to try ...

Test drive on snow and ice

A few days later I'm back at the dealer's in the yard. Thick snowflakes, but the streets are free of snow. I ask for a test drive and first of all get skeptical looks. Yes the snow and the summer tires. Someone is worried about their car. Only when I swear not to go into the Hochspessart and to avoid areas with snow do I get the green light.

And off it goes. The Saab starts without any problems even after months of standstill. The heater and the electrically heated seats transform the interior into a comfort zone, and I rush through the winter in the Saab 9-3. In a parking lot, I calmly take a closer look at the problem areas of the anniversary, which is second-hand. And where is the rust? The wheel arches are not found. Everything seems fine behind the wheel arches too. Likewise behind the bulkhead. There is nothing to be found. Then I make a mistake. I forget to check the recess for the spare wheel, you should also look there.

On the other hand, the quirks on the beautiful Alu 36 rims stand out negligently, the driver's belt no longer rolls up, the antenna rod is bent, and there are dents and scratches on the passenger side fender. But apart from that, this Saab makes a damn good impression of substance.

Automatic is slow. Or so.

And so he goes too. Much better than expected, everything is taut and by no means 15 years old. As soon as he was warm, I stepped on the gas. The automatic switches back, soft as butter, the 9-3 is agile. Wanderdüne is different. If you then press the sports button, it really greedily hung on the gas, goes even faster and better. That makes me a little helpless.

Because he does not feel lame at all. And not to 150 PS. More like 180 or 190. Why it is like that? Not clear. Either this 9-3 is a particularly good, upwardly scattering copy. Or he was provided with a Hirsch Leistungskur. Or an 185 PS controller. It can not be clarified after 15 years. At least not with a short test drive.

One thing is certain: The substance seems good, the Saab is delicious. Despite or even with automatic. Because he is consistently well maintained, the care condition is right, he has the rare Anniversary features and a sunroof.

A bargain. And still to have.

One thing is also certain: There is a Saab 9-3, which with a little commitment could become a piece of cake. If you were to fix the manageable defects, you would have a very nice car. The price: First offered for just under € 5.000,00, then to less than € 4.000,00 and finally reduced to € 3.700,00 in an oral hearing.

A bargain? Probably. Because without defects it would be worth around € 6 or € 7.000,00 with the good basic substance. The story goes on and it comes to an end last Saturday that I never expected.

The interested reader travels over several 100 km by train. Inspect the Saab, see its strengths and weaknesses - which it would have accepted. But he can't handle the anniversary seats. He simply does not find a comfortable seating position for himself, no matter how often he adjusts the steering wheel, headrests and seats.

Which brings us to the surprising end of this story. The Saab is still available. He is in Aschaffenburg for sale, he has been waiting in the past years at AZW, Where you can certainly ask for the history if interested.

31 thoughts on "Saab 9-3 2.0t Anniversary. A winter dream?"

  • Drive yourself a well-received 9-3 Anniversary with automatic and I've already wondered if it was probably deceived by the previous owner. Anyway, I can fully confirm Tom's impression. Feels like 180 PS actually. Incidentally, the automatic works perfectly. I would always prefer a switch.

  • I read along here and took this comment as an opportunity to see a 900 II next week!

  • Oh well, but I have my 93 3 gang already! (Limo as Viggen, Aero as Coupe, 2.3i as convertible and this 2.3i with his 150PS is the Wanderdüne, which runs really very limp, for the Viggen is simply mercilessly good)
    the 93er I are the Saab for me. There are currently so many good examples here in the CH, often with significantly under 150000km and treated carefully. There is only one thing; to buy!

  • Have checked: is more direction Bamberg, but was waited for many years in Saabzentrum Frankfurt. Unfortunately, the equipment is very poor! Not even a leather steering wheel was ordered ..

  • Thank you! I got one from near Frankfurt from 2001. Allegedly stainless!

  • Not really. I would make sure during purchase that the recommended by Saab anti-rust treatments / checks in the service booklet are noted. That would be a good starting position. And then I would rather buy a vehicle, which was traveling in little road salt conspicuous parts of the Republic. So rather Hamburg than Berchtesgaden

    With all good advice: I have even bought a 9000er Anni who was traveling in the Fichtelgebirge. Highest stray salt alarm!
    Why? Because I just wanted the car because of its color combination. So a lot in rust removal / preparedness invested and never looked back.

  • Is there a construction recommendation regarding the susceptibility to rust? Are there years of construction that are better?

  • He does not have. No turbo display, everything looks like a normal 150 PS LPT.

  • It could actually be an anniversary with 185 PS. Does the car have an APC display? There was a sports package for the Anni with Alu36 and 185 PS. But then it would have to be in the vehicle registration.

  • I have the impression that the 902 gets so slow a lobby. After all, good copies are no longer given away, as they used to be. It's about time too. Because many did not survive.

  • She is really timeless! One wonders why the 902 has no lobby .. really a pity! What has been commented here sounds really good!

  • Yes, coupe and 5-door are the same size. The 5-Türer are more prone to rust on the rear wheel arches than the coupés, which unfortunately is by design.

  • the 902 is one of the most timeless bodies ever. The lines of the 9-31 have been watered down a bit, but the overall concept is still the same. We had a 902 from 1994 and one from 1996. In the two years something had already happened with the further development. the 2.0i was quieter in 1996 with balancer shafts and had 3Ps less, the steering wheel was more valuable in 1994. I am still always thrilled when I see one of the series, ... but a 5th SAAB is more than a luxury! 😉

  • Hello, thank you for your extensive and interesting message! I like the look of the 902 very much! And if he's really good in the late BJ 's - the better! I can hardly understand why he then has so few fans! I recently discovered a post in the Saabforum where a 2.0 ran over 400 ′ km. However, I don't feel like rusting because I'm not a screwdriver myself. Is the coupé actually as long as the limo or is the interior identical except for the missing doors?

  • “Driven by an elderly lady”… yes, that seems to have been the case with many SAABs when I think back to my sales talks. It wasn't any different with my first one 😉 But so be it, the interior looks really great. And from the outside it looks a lot too ... if I didn't already have one, then I could get weak.

  • You can not compare an 3er with an 9-3I. At least that's my opinion.

  • Hello Steffen,
    Unfortunately, that is exactly the problem with many Saab with large tailgates, which are more suitable for everyday use than most modern cars and are therefore often completely run down as cheap used cars. A look into the trunk and the spare wheel well reveals the “Transporter” quickly.
    My children both drive 9-3 I, I 9000 and 902. A later 902 (1997) is comparable in quality to an 9000, even if it is a vehicle class lower located. The rust prevention is known to be very good at the 902. The 9-3 I has been saved in many places and also cheaper materials installed. The best example is the Lautspecher 9 3 from Malaysia, which are mostly gone. At the 902 they are still from Clarion from Japan and hold.
    I also like the seats in the 902 better. There are often little things.
    The 9-3 I is of course further developed and offers a larger engine selection.
    Is ultimately a matter of taste.

  • The 9-3 I is the evolution of the 902. In comparison, I find the 9-3 I to be more modern and more comfortable to use. But you have to "experience" yourself. You can still find good, well-kept 902s, often always maintained by Saab partners. And I would always prefer the later vintages as the 902 has been continuously improved.

  • What about the predecessor, the 900 II?

  • The 9-3 I is sturdy, the technology keeps you working and the variability is great. Especially with the huge trunk. Suitable for everyday use? Definitely!
    Check as described in the article (and the comments here) and of course the usual things like any other older car too.

  • Oh, I did not expect that!
    What should one do for precaution? And there are places that should be checked at sightseeing necessarily?
    Is such a 9-31 still suitable as a “daily driver” or is it just a case for specialists and collectors?

  • Were they not, a prospective buyer might do. The seating position is higher, the seats at least two generations on and with active headrests. I got along well with that and immediately found the right attitude.

  • How tall was the prospective / driver, who could not find the right seating position?

  • I can easily understand the fact that the seating position is not quite right with the 9-3: The seats are mounted higher than the 902. Have the strut necks been checked for rust? A weak point that is increasingly evident in the 9-3. The price: a little over 3k is OK, because comparable BMW 3 Series cost about the same ...

  • Absolutely depends on how he was cared for and where he was in action. There are both really inconspicuous vehicles, as well as those that are beyond saving. I always see myself visiting various workshops. I already see a certain susceptibility to neglect.

  • Is the rust problem of the 9-3 1 so huge?

  • Even if many Saab fans do not like these Schräkeck 9-3'er (or 900 II) - I always liked them very much and I still think the car is good today!

    Nice car, nice report!

  • Good 9-3 1s have become rare ... Rust is probably the main enemy, neglect comes on top of that. I have already visited a number of grottos for many more notes. We keep our fingers crossed that this beautiful specimen will be in good hands and that the new owner will invest in long-term rust prevention!

  • very nice car, the parking aid also not impractical. I would like, but unfortunately the effort to bring the vehicle to Austria, (Nova) and the cost is a bit too high.

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