Below you will find
links to other sections of this web. This is basically a collection of
info I've collected over the years (I'm a bit of a data pack-rat). A
little technical data, a little do-it-yourself stuff, a little bragging.
Road Trip Review
On my first road trip a couple of months after we made our
acquaintance, I wrote some observations down...
Well, here it is. Just
some general observations & experiences I had in no particular order. Sorry
it took so long. I want to put some pictures up too, but I gotta get home
Options that might be relevant: Arc with Auto tranny, ES2 stereo system, 16"
-The State of Independence (SOI) song was especially fun to play going down
a highway with no traffic. It reinforces the "independence" theme, and sets
the mind to a more serene mood than already achieved just by driving a Saab.
-Recirc works well. When driving past a burning textile mill less than 10'
from the road, no smell entered the cabin. Lucky I turned in on well before
I got there.
-Turbo lag shows it's ugliest face when trying to go aggressively through
stoplights. When the power went out & all the traffics lights were SUPPOSED
to be treated like 4-way stops, many folks scoffed. They just plowed through
unheedingly. So when I chanced it, it took a couple of seconds for the turbo
to kick in & get up to a speed I could get through the intersection with. I
gotta learn how to drive with 2 feet.
-Just about the best feeling in the world is that little place where the
RPMs stop going up, but the car smoothly flies forward as the turbo takes
over, firmly planting you in the comfy seats. It's not whiplash-grade
acceleration, but the feeling brings a smile to my face every single time.
-High speed driving: All the cool characteristics you see at 55 mph (smooth
passing, acceleration, weaving & lane switching with little roll) are still
there at 100 mph. You still feel in control, and the car admirably does what
you ask it to.
-When the rear dome light comes on, it is shielded so it doesn't blind the
driver in the rearview mirror at night. A driver's car.
-Mrs. Viscouse is the coolest copilot/wife ever. She graciously took notes
for 5 days. What a sport. I'm surprised we actually got anywhere with the
"No no no! Turn here! I know it's the perfect stretch but we
have to turn here!" And "Yes dear, I
can't think of anything else cooler than torqueing up a hill", "Yes, we can
stop to take a picture...again."
-When traveling through metric Canada, the ability to turn on the kph scale
at night is pretty cool. The ability to customize data shown is pretty neat.
-With the 80-odd controls, it's nice that the less used ones are out of the
way. This could be viewed as a hindrance, I choose to look at it as a
feature. I'm talking about the ones that are covered by the steering wheel
(ESP, Nightpanel, the "-" ejector seat button, etc).
-As I'm driving along, after a 5 hr stretch, I stop for some gas. I was a
little insulted, and confused by how bugs, and the insect world in general
have absolutely no regard for where they're going, and choose to defile my
car by splattering themselves very prominently all over the windscreen,
bumper & headlamps. I mean come on, that's just plain rude.
-Driving at night down the freeway, now I wish I had gotten the bi-xenons.
I'm not sure how they compare in the distance they light the road up, but
sometimes I felt the throw of the beams could be longer at highway .
-If the stereo is off, wouldn't it be cool if it turned on when you inserted
a disc? Speaking of off, I am really starting to miss a Pause/Mute button on
the steering wheel. Listening to a CD/radio, but we talked too. It gets
laborious to turn the whole system off, then to turn it on again & wait the
3 seconds to boot up. If there wasn't any, uh, boot time, it'd be great. A
feature I DO think is cool, is that the stereo remembers where the CD left
off & starts back up there. Something else: when you turn the stereo off,
then back on, the volume reverts back to the preset volume (which is soft at
highway speeds, even when set to max (20)). That also is a pain to have to
turn back up to where it was every time you flip it off.
-Louvered vents are cool. They totally blow the air exactly where you want
them to. If the sun is beating down on 1 leg, just aim a vent in that
direction. They move smoothly & fluidly too. This sounds obscure, but
they're actually FUN to move. Not a chore, like all my other cars.
-The suspension travel seems a little short? Or maybe it's just me. I had
the misfortune to hit 2 potholes (at 5-10mph). There was a significant
jarring bump, but it didn't feel like the chassis hitting the ground, it
felt like the suspension reaching full travel & jarring. Is it supposed to
do that? There's no last-resort rubber bumper or something?
-So in Ithaca, and that part of NY, Saabs were almost, dare I say, common?
Tons of 900s, a few 9000s, and a smattering of 9-5s & 9-3s. I saw a few 2003
9-3s on the road in my travels. No one waved back though. Heck 90% of all
the Saab drivers didn't even look out their side window to see me. Is it
that Saabs are such an intense ride you completely forget about your
surroundings? Hmmmm. Where's the love?
-The Arrival Time calculations come in handy on long trips where you have
exact mileage. For instance, driving from Detroit to Niagara using Mapquest.
Dial in distance, and it will work on your arrival time. It gets more
accurate the closer you get, but is still a darn good estimation if you're
doing steady highway driving. I forget how it calculates arrival time
(running average of speed? Or speed since it was set?) Also distance vs DTE
is handy too.
-Lots of hills & stuff in Western NY. I noticed when starting from a stop
(or in 1st or 2nd gear) to go up a hill, it torques up the hill fine. When
doing so starting in gears 3-5 (like going 40mph on your way up the next
hill), it stubbornly remains in 5th, protesting & whining about
downshifting. This has been mentioned before. The engine loves to stay in
5th to make great gas mileage. But oh, to torque up a hill is pretty darn
cool. In the proper gear, the engine loves to climb a hill. You don't have
to get a running start, the RPMs don't go in the red (unless you're being
aggressive). It's almost like a hill/grade isn't a big deal. And it was fun.
-To further that, the 9-3 doesn't care what it's carrying with regard to
acceleration. 5 people? 3 folks & a trunk crammed full of luggage? Just me?
Any of the above with or w/o the AC on? It seems to accelerate the same:
admirably. Now, while I haven't taken it to the track to verify this, the
car didn't wheeze & complain like other cars will. Is this the torque?
-ESP works! Take a 30 degree gravel slope. When going up it, trying to
accelerate made the left front wheel slip for about .5 seconds, then stop
slipping. Then the right front wheel did the same. The cool thing about it
though, is that you never actually felt it. The car didn't slip sideways, or
jerk when the ESP activated, or do anything at all except motor smoothly &
evenly up the hill the whole way.
In a similar incident, there was quite a bit of rain on the road so that
there were puddles on the curb side. When I hit the puddle (at about 40 mph)
the right wheel was in the puddle & started pulling right (towards the curb.
Eeek!), but about .5 seconds into it, the car leveled off & went straight. I
wonder if the ESP had kicked in.
-In the middle of nowhere, I took a break from the CDs & tried the radio. I
hit Seek, and it blazed through the entire spectrum in like 3 seconds. Then
it did it again. And again. I think it flew through 5 times before it found
-The displays are polarized! The ACC & Menu are polarized at 45 degrees, and
the SID is at 90 degrees. How to tell? If your sunglasses are polarized,
hold them close to the display, and turn them in a circle. There will be 2
points in a complete circle when the display completely disappears.
-Properly inflated tires have a very pleasant ring to them when going over
bumps in the road.
-If you're cruising in 5th, and you floor it, the following happens: Turbo
boost to max, then downshift into 4th with max turbo boost. It seems that
whenever throttle is applied, turbo always gets priority. From a dead stop
(wait for turbo to spool up), when flooring it to unleash maximum power, or
just getting up to speed in the city. I would prefer in some instances if
the engine didn't wait on the turbo, and just applied engine power (like
from a dead stop). I don't understand why (from a stop) the Sentronic mode
is much more responsive than auto. Is the auto sapping power? Isn't
Sentronic still in auto? I'm not much of an engine guy, so I'm a little in
the dark about this stuff. I would hate to think that the engine was made
sluggish in auto, just so the Sentronic mode would feel "more responsive".
-More on the engine: I think I experienced the ECU learning. After getting
off the highway & tooling up & down some hills, it was possible to stay in
5th both up & down the hill. After awhile (I forget how long), the car
started to downshift into 4th on the way down the hill. It was engine
-General impressions: I had a blast driving my car. I would drive for 5 hrs,
then stop for the night, and instead of complaining about sore muscles &
boredom, look longingly at the car & wish I were driving again. It's fun to
drive in the blazing sun, in torrential rain, on open roads, in the city, on
my commute, with friends (& inlaws), on hills, around mountains, around
horse crap (in the Amish country), or anywhere.
To me, this car is the perfect blend of power, grace, refinement, looks,
features, layout, workmanship, materials, and overall effect. I was pleased
that as much as I knew about the car, it still had opportunities to teach me
I love my car.
My New Car Review
I also wrote a review on my car.
2 years later, all of this still applies!
Well, I'm glad to
announce the arrival of my new automobile.
I've had it a couple days now & already put 300 miles on it!
It's a 9-3 ARC with charcoal interior, all in black, except for the
silver/chrome accents (I think they look best on the black cars!)
I picked it up from my Ann Arbor, Michigan dealer, who was simply the nicest
lady ever. She totally was the antithesis of what I expected a car salesperson
Anyway, my new 9-3 isn't the fanciest with it's auto tranny, heated seats,
front headlamp washers & sunroof, but it's the perfect car for me: a 2003
9-3 Saab I can afford!
I chose not to go with the 17" wheels cause it seemed a pretty bumpy ride.
It could get annoying to me & the wife on a 600 mile trip. The 16"s are a
little cushier, while still letting you read the road with amazing clarity
(thanks to the suspension).
First, the likes:
-Fit & Finish is amazing, as is design. I love the thought that was placed
in design, and I don't know if it's coincidence, but there are quite a few
'arcs' in the cabin (or curves anyway). I love how the door sill has "Saab
ARC" right on it.
-I'm digging the stereo with it's 13 speakers & CD player
-Cornering is amazing. It doesn't skitter like my old car. I think it has a
better-than-average turning radius as well.
I took some friends for a ride, just slaloming around in a parking lot
around lampposts. What fun!
-Seat comfort is very good. Firm where you need it, comfy in the long run.
-Trunk space is just bordering on cavernous. But why not take 6" of trunk
space & turn it into 6" of rear leg room?
-All the myriad of buttons, dials, readouts, data & settings holy cow! But,
they are very nicely laid out & not intrusive or overbearing or out of
-The SaabCentral Forum!
-Oh yeah, last but not least, it does algebra. My car does algebra. Figuring
out the missing component of time, distance or velocity.
I could go on & on. I'll try to put more in later after I get past all of
the cool stuff.
On to some of the small minor troubles. Please keep in mind this is
nit-picky stuff, and in no way decreases the joy of driving this fine
-I think (still experimenting) my big behind hits the memory buttons when I
exit the car, resetting it to one of the 3 positions. Yeah yeah, don't
-The door lock handle (by the B pillar) doesn't sit flush with the
windowsill when locked, so if you want to hang your arm out the window to
enjoy a fine summer day, it digs into your arm. I haven't seen anyone
mention this, does it bother anyone else? /EDIT/ I have fixed this!
-Brakes seem awful sensitive. When braking, during the 1st half of travel,
they're fine. About halfway, the brakes kick in with a vengeance. This is
while braking smoothly, not panic braking.
-Cupholder. As totally cool as it is, I feel like it's going to snap off
under the load of my morning java.
-I raved about fit & finish: except this. The turn signal stalk feels like
it's a sharp edge. With all the smooth lines & rubberized plastic, one
should not feel a sharp edge, but where the 2 halves of the stalk are put
together, they are sharp. Not cool.
Well, there you have it. I'm having a blast tooling around Detroit & the
suburbs in it. I've had 4 other friends take rides/drive it & they are
impressed beyond belief, as am I.
This is the car I was meant to have, and for the first time in my life, I
feel sad when I'm not driving.