In-depth Reviews

Saab 9-3 Sportwagon estate (2005-2011)

“Revised styling, good economy and plenty of kit make the practical Saab 9-3 estate a decent mid-range load carrier.”

Carbuyer Rating

2.4 out of 5

Pros

  • Frugal, efficient engines
  • Spacious cabin with lots of kit
  • Decent-sized and flexible boot

Cons

  • Styling revamp can't hide 9-3's age
  • Soft suspension dulls handling
  • Saab badge isn't as prestigious as BMW or Audi

The Saab 9-3 SportWagon shares its twin-turbo engine line-up with the Saab 9-3 saloon, the SportWagon estate offers up to 180bhp, yet boasts impressive economy and emissions as low as 135g/km. The three units on offer are powerful, smooth and quiet, which gives this ageing car a strong selling point in a crowded market. Elsewhere, the revised 9-3 estate features a flexible, decent-sized boot and comes with plenty of kit, such as a Bluetooth phone connection, sat-nav and a Night Panel dashboard, which turns off all of the dashboard displays apart from the speedometer. The suspension is soft, which makes the 9-3 comfortable on long journeys. It may be SportWagon in name, but sporty to drive it is not.

MPG, running costs & CO2

Impressive for its class

This is an area where the Saab 9-3 estate scores highly. With economy of 44.1mpg and emissions of 135g/km from the 1.9-litre TTiD manual, you won't have to fork out as much in fuel bills or road tax as you would for thirstier rivals. Insurance, servicing and repairs also cost less than for the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

Engines, drive & performance

Good power, poor handling

First, the bad news: the Saab 9-3 SportWagon is simply not a rival for the Audi A4 Avant or BMW 3-Series Touring when it comes to driving dynamics. The suspension is too soft for high-speed corners and the manual gearbox is notchy, although the Saab is comfortable over bumps and a smooth auto option is available. The good news is that the 1.9 or 2.0-litre TTiD engines are strong, and twin-turbo performance means they pull strongly through all six gears in manual form.

Interior & comfort

Soft suspension suits motorway, but not enough space for rear passengers

Over long distances the comfortable seats and soft suspension are a most welcome feature - as a result the 9-3 SportWagon is well suited to motorway driving. However, elsewhere in the cabin the dashboard feels flimsy and looks rather dated. Interior space is also lacking compared to rivals from VW and Ford, leaving rear passengers cramped and in need of regular stops.

Practicality & boot space

Flexible boot, if not the biggest

The Saab 9-3 estate's boot is a decent 477 litres and, although it's not as spacious as the Audi A4 Avant, it's wide, has a low load sill for easy access and features a hinged floor which can be folded up to hold shopping in place.

Reliability & safety

Chassis is ageing but solid

Overall, the 9-3 range is showing its age, but Saab did not alter the chassis at the car's last update, because it already boasts a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating. The car also has safety features such as Night Panel, which dims all dashboard readouts bar the speedometer, bi-xenon cornering headlights and Active Head Restraints.

Price, value for money & options

A lot of kit for your money

The Saab undercuts the likes of Audi and BMW, but it may struggle to tempt mid-range buyers away from the Volkswagen Passat. All cars bar the entry-level model are well equipped, although you do get what you pay for – leather seats and features such as Bluetooth, sat-nav and the Night Panel cannot disguise the fact that the Saab's interior isn't as luxurious as the class leaders' cabins.

Most Popular

Best new car deals 2021
Volvo V60
Deals
17 Sep 2021

Best new car deals 2021

New 2022 Toyota RAV4 Adventure revealed
Toyota RAV4 Adventure
Toyota RAV4
14 Sep 2021

New 2022 Toyota RAV4 Adventure revealed

PCP deals explained – what is PCP finance?
Car dealer and customer talking
Car finance
8 Sep 2021

PCP deals explained – what is PCP finance?

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
10 Aug 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
3 Jun 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
15 Jun 2021

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2021
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2021

Top 10 best electric cars 2021
Volkswagen ID.3
Best cars
12 Aug 2021

Top 10 best electric cars 2021

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2021
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Mercedes AMG A45 - rear
Hot hatches
25 Jun 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks