And it was the best front-wheel drive car I’d ever driven.
Chris already filled you in on his first Saab: a Laser Red 2007 9-3 2.0T. I can still vividly remember the first time I went for a ride in it—I was completely blown away. It was the first time I’d felt the surge of a turbocharger, and to the teenage me it was life changing.
As you might know, the limited production Turbo X was the first Saab to earn my desire. After totaling my 2007 Chevy Cobalt SS (it was supercharged bro!), I decided to go find a Turbo X as its replacement. This proved to be quite a challenge, especially since I was after one with a manual transmission.
During my search I stumbled upon a 2008 9-3 Aero with a manual transmission and 92,000 miles at the Luther Ford Lincoln dealership in Homer City, Pennsylvania. It was a front-wheel drive model, so when I took it for a test drive I was expecting a ton of wheel-spin and minimal enjoyment. After a few ‘I-hope-this-sales-rep-doesn’t-mind’ pulls, I quickly realized that the Aero could put the power down much better than my Cobalt SS, which didn’t even have a traction control system.
What really sold me, though, was the Saab’s ability to give me both thrills and comfort. The dual-mass flywheel made shifts buttery smooth, though the shifter itself felt a bit gummy, which was due to stretched shifter linkage. The suspension was comfortable, yet firm enough to inspire driving confidence through the corners of the mountain road we were on. Most impressive to the hot-headed, younger me was the extra torque from the V6. The car’s ability to push me back in the seat while maintaining grip was truly captivating.
The whole purchasing experience was very akin to when I traded in my 2001 Oldsmobile Intrigue for a fully-loaded 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt LT. The Bose sound system had a clarity to it that the Pioneer system in the Cobalt lacked, but it still kicked pretty hard. The power-memory seats, automatic dimming rear-view mirror, and self-leveling and cornering HID headlights made it that much more desirable to me at the time.
The asking price was $9,300, but I was able to negotiate with the salesman thanks to a missing front lower grille, inoperable handbrake, and gummy shifter. When all was said and done, I ended up paying $8,200 out-the-door. Between that and my Swedish infatuation, I drove home as a satisfied customer.
Stay tuned for an overview of all the work that went into this 2008 9-3 Aero, as it’s had a few different looks since I’ve owned it. I’ll also share my experiences with using it to compete at SCCA autocross events, travel to the Electric Forest music festival, and more generally, as a daily driver. It’ll be very similar to the 2007 Saab 9-3 2.0T content – peep the gallery below for a preview.