- The Washington Times - Friday, September 21, 2007

To some it may come as quite a surprise to learn SAAB automobiles have a large following in the US-of-A.

This Swedish manufacture, born from jets, is popular with a special kind of driver. At least that’s what every owner feels.

In many ways they are spot-on. In the past it took a very special person to own and drive a SAAB automobile. That is until about a decade ago when SAAB began to attract more mainstream owners.

Today, the attraction is far reaching yet there is still the air of individuality attached to ownership of any selection of the SAAB stable.

The most popular of all the models is the 9-3 and that popularity is sure to continue as the Swedes introduce the new version of the 9-3 in a number of models.

I spent the better part of this test tossing the 9-3 along country roads, city streets and high-speed highways.

On every road and every situation the 9-3 performed extremely well.

Power comes from different variations of engines starting with a 2.0-liter inline-4 that is turbocharged, which explains the 210 horsepower.

This engine is available with either a five-speed manual or automatic transmissions.

I believe this version will be quite popular because it performs admirably. It offers plenty of performance for most drivers.

The up level power plant is the 2.8-liter V-6 producing 280 horsepower transferred to the road via either a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic.

The power and performance offered here will entice not only the enthusiast but those who want the foremost in performance for merging in traffic or passing other vehicles.

Styling has received a more aggressive stance while retaining all the favorite design features that trueSAAB fans consider a must for any vehicle that carries the Swedish badge. Such design attributes include the clamshell hood even though it no longer opens with the hinge system of earlier models that was an engineering marvel.

The familiar SAAB grille while now blacked out with chrome accents continues to tell the world this vehicle is indeed a Swedish automobile. Dual ports on either side, along with the headlamps, accentuate the wide and aggressive look.

The leather seats are supportive with a comfortable feel. Instruments are easy to read and most switching is accessible, although the cruise control switch located on the turn signal stalk is difficult to read. However, once familiar, an owner will have no problem choosing settings.

As quirky as early SAABs seemed, I have always appreciated the quality and manner with which they approached automobile design and engineering.

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