Used Review: 2008 Saab 9-3 Aero

Saab 9-3 (Photo: Quickpic) The demise of Saab was a tragic one. There were many reasons for the death of the famous griffin, who was in a poor state by the time the decision was made to turn the life support off.

While General Motors had done their best to retain the marque’s individuality and left-field character, Saab might have been too different for its own good at the end of the day. Competing with those from the powerful German triumvirate, Saab simply could not keep up – being positioned as premium offerings, they were priced accordingly, and most opted for what they knew from BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

One thing is unequivocal though: a Saab on the second hand market represents serious value, and stands as a sound choice for someone wanting to be different. With keen pricing, you can forgive the fact that the Saab might not have been as dynamically sorted as the German rivals of its day.

We found a smart, black range-topping 2008 9-3 Aero V6 with just 59 641 kilometres on the odometer, costing almost half of what it did new. This year it’s going for R159 995. New it had a list price of R360 500.

Inside you get a driver-orientated cockpit, which Saab hoped would make the person behind the wheel feel like a pilot. Let’s not forget that Saab started out making planes, something they constantly reminded us of with slogans like “Born of Jets.” Quirky traits like the positioning of the key slot – in between the handbrake and gearlever – are lovably “Saabish” as is the driver cupholder, which slides away neatly into the dashboard and does an interesting unfolding action when you want it out.

Saab has always stood by the philosophy of turbocharging and this V6 model offers plenty of kick, for not much money. It goes about things in a dramatic way, roaring and rearing upward as it surges forward in muscle car fashion. Straight line power is this car’s forte, it doesn’t feel as nimble and light as a BMW 3-Series for example.

But it’s a great place to be, with comfortable seats and a quality interior with supple cream leather and inoffensive surface materials. There’s also a boost gauge on the instrument panel.Saab 9-3

The assuring part of buying a second hand Saab, is that General Motors still continues to offer maintenance although the brand is gone. This one was selected from the G2 Certified Used Programme, whose vehicles undergo history and mechanical checks – anything amiss is corrected – before they are sold.

Service intervals are every 20 000 kilometres, or once a year. This model had its yearly service in August 2012. The next one will be at 80 000 kilometres, or in August this year. A service advisor said one could expect to pay between R6000 and R6500.  Of course, every silver lining has a cloud, and maintenance costs would be the one in this case. Parts are never going to be cheap, as this is a niche product.

For insurance, a 35 year-old male living in a northern Johannesburg suburb could expect to pay between R909 and R2727 per month.

At this price, there are few alternatives that can rival this used Saab for performance and luxury. It’s a good buy for anyone who dares to be different, and capitalise off second hand Saab prices, in the wake of the brand’s departure. As with any used purchase, do your homework and ideally opt for an example from a certified pre-owned programme that comes with the after-sales assurances.

The Technical Stuff:

Model: 2008 Saab 9-3 2.8 V6 Aero
Price New: R360 500
Price Now: R159 995
Engine: 2.8-litre, V6, turbocharged
Estimated Repayment: R3244
Power and Torque: 184kW and 350Nm
Fuel Consumption: 11l/100km
Mileage: 59 641kilometres

Brenwin Naidu is a guest contributor to DriveRSA. He writes for Surf4cars (, South Africa’s comprehensive online car-buying resource. Find this Saab and thousands of other new and used cars for sale there.

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