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Saab 9-3X estate (2009 – 2012) review

Saab 9-3X estate (2009 - 2012) expert review car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.

Last updated: 10th November 2014
The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.2
The Saab 9-3X offers purposeful looks, good equipment and impressive safety, combined with the reassurance of four-wheel-drive.

Pros

  • All-wheel-drive on petrol models
  • Decent equipment levels
  • Diesel CO2 emissions

Cons

  • Expensive to buy
  • Lacks the fun factor
  • Holds value poorly
Best on a budget
9-3X 1.9 TTiD
Diesel engine makes the top budget buy
Best seller
9-3X 1.9 TTiD
Diesel power is also the most popular choice
Blow the budget
9-3X 2.0T XWD
All-wheel-drive and petrol power is the ultimate buy

Interested in buying Saab 9-3?

Equipment

Exterior

Interior

Performance

Practicality

Reliability

Ride and handling

Running costs

Safety

Why buy?

Exterior 3/5

The Saab 9-3X looks more muscular than the standard 9-3 SportWagon estate. It features bespoke bumpers, metallic underbody guards, a raised ride height and upgraded alloy wheels.

Interior 2/5

All of the interior plastics feel quite solid and are of decent quality. But the interior looks dated, thanks to the old-fashioned air vents with joystick-style levers and a lack of soft-touch surfaces. The indicator stalks feel pretty flimsy and are at odds with the sturdy feel of the rest of the cabin. Saabs have always been known for their quirks, and the tradition continues with the ignition key located between the front seats, next to the handbrake.

Practicality 3/5

The 9-3X is based on the 9-3 SportWagon and so features the same-sized loadbay. It is well shaped, but virtually every other large estate car on the market offers more space. There’s just 419 litres of space with the seats up, and 1,287 litres with them folded. Only the Honda Accord Tourer offers less luggage space. There is a reasonable amount of space for occupants both in the front and in the back of the Saab’s cabin. The seats are comfortable and provide a good driving position. The  9-3X can pull a caravan or trailer up to 1,600kg.

Ride and handling 3/5

The 9-3X provides a more comfortable ride than the standard 9-3. Despite the extra ride height, it remains hushed and quiet at speed. Steering feel is pretty poor though, and the 9-3X is not a very engaging car to drive. It is perfectly safe though, with plenty of grip, especially in 2.0T guise, which provides the added advantage of all-wheel drive.

Performance 4/5

Performance is brisk on both the petrol and diesel models. The 1.9-litre diesel engine develops 178bhp, accelerates to 62mph in 8.3 seconds and can reach a top speed of 140mph. The 2.0T petrol engine is even more rapid, delivering 207bhp, accelerating to 62mph in 8.2 seconds, with a maximum speed of 143mph. The front-wheel drive diesel can struggle to transmit all of its power to the road, especially in the rain. The 2.0T petrol model fares considerably better thanks to the superior traction provided by its standard four-wheel drive.

Running costs 3/5

The 1.9-litre TTiD engine can achieve 55.4mpg average fuel economy, and emits low CO2 emissions of just 135g/km. Petrol models aren’t quite so good, with emissions rated at 186g/km and average 34.9mpg fuel economy. Insurance costs compare well with rivals, but resale values are less impressive.

Reliability 3/5

Saab’s record in this area is not strong. The majority of customer gripes come down to either diesel engine particulate filter woes, or poorly fitting trim that creaks and rattles whilst on the move.

Safety 4/5

The 9-3X itself hasn’t been crash-tested, but the 9-3 saloon that it is based upon has been. That model scored a five-star safety rating when it was tested back in 2002. All 9-3X models come with driver, passenger, side and head airbags, together with Isofixchild seat safety fasteners, electronic stability programme and traction control.

Equipment 4/5

Standard equipment includes half-leather sports seats, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, heated front seats, air-con, cruise control, electric windows, CD-player, 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, electric and heated mirrors and rear parking sensors. Optional extras include larger alloy wheels, tyre pressure monitors, leather upholstery, sat-nav, an uprated BOSE audio system, electric sunroof and loadbay cargo nets. Saab also handily groups together the more popular optional extras into packs, to keep costs down.

Why buy? 3/5

The 9-3X is stylish and comfortable. It’s also safe and well equipped. But it’s let down by a dated interior. Diesel models are the most efficient to run, although they lack the extra grip and traction of the four-wheel-drive petrol models.

Interested in buying Saab 9-3?