Decision day, or: How Swede it is to be driving you, Saab 9-3

Sections: Chassis

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Frank Cruz and his 2008 Saab 9-3 sedan

Our man in State College, PA, Frank Cruz stands next to his soon-to-be daily driver, a 2008 Saab 9-3 Aero. (Frank Cruz photo)

Editor’s note: This is the most recent in a series where our Frank Cruz is looking for his next daily driver after his Chevrolet Cobalt SS was totaled in an unfortunate crash. Enjoy!

After a lot of researching, negotiating, driving, and hair pulling, I made my decision.

About a month ago I lost my ’07 Cobalt 2.0 Supercharged SS coupe. Tomorrow, I move on to a 2008 Saab 9-3 Aero 2.8 Turbocharged sedan.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to seal the deal on the Saab 9-3 after the first visit, but after feeling how smoothly it performed, I decided to make it mine. This car met a lot of the criteria I had in mind for my new car, and that was the selling point.

I will still be able to use my HP Tuners with the Saab 9-3, as well as the extra set of wheels I had for the Cobalt. I will be able to use Aero Force scan gauges, if I choose to stay that route. And thanks to the large trunk, I can put the subs I have to good use.

Since I got the Saab 9-3 for a great price, I can address the two issues it has — the first being some blemishes in the paint. With the price I paid, I can afford to have the car painted. This really allows me to make the car my own, and I already have a color in mind. The second issue would be the gummy, stiff gear box. I’m fairly certain the bushings/springs are shot, so I plan to install a TWM short-throw shifter for nice, solid shifts. I read both good and bad opinions on the product, but all good product reviews. Soon I’ll upgrade the clutch and trans mounts, which should further improve shifting and traction during the occasional launch at Numidia Raceway.

The car’s traction was great, and compared to all the previous front wheel-drive cars I’ve driven, the 9-3 Aero is definitely my favorite in regards to handling. Stiff, responsive, yet still very smooth over bumps. The low-end response isn’t the best, but the top end is quite impressive for a stock, sleek sedan.

More to come, including more in-depth discussion about my future plans for the Saab. Stay tuned.

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