Saab 9-3 Airflow
20 November 2006
|Category:|| Upper medium|
|Prices:|| £17,985 - £23,980|
|Key rival:|| BMW 3-series |
It seems such a simple idea. Business car drivers, especially user-choosers, can't get the same discounts or offers retail buyers enjoy, so why not offer a specific model aimed just for them.
Drop the P11D price to take account of the lack of retail buyer's discount, maybe throw in a bit of additional spec plus a cosmetic tweak or two to add some kerb appeal, and off you go. Citroen introduced a specific VTX trim level earlier this year to do just that, and now Saab's also trying it.
The Airflow trim level will be available across both saloon and estate bodystyles of the 9-3 and 9-5 range. Based on the Linear trim level, the 9-3 saloon Airflow adds 17-inch alloys, colour-matched bumpers, door handles and sills and a rear spoiler. Bump up to the attractive SportWagon and tinted glass is also thrown in, while on the 9-5 parking sensors are another standard feature.
This extra standard kit would be attractive on its own, but Saab has managed to combine it with list price reductions of £975 on the 9-3, and even more than that on the 9-5 models. Which gives the Swedish competitor a distinct fiscal advantage over its rivals.
Saab has combined this new trim level with a model year upgrade for its 9-3. Focusing attention where it was most needed, the GM-owned company has revised the interior. The centre console has been revised, with the trip computer readouts now incorporated in the main instrument cluster instead of in its own extra display.
The stereo and climate controls are also now made from better quality materials, a welcome improvement, although the indicator stalks are untouched and still feel flimsy.
Otherwise, it's still the same 9-3 - a stylish, if slightly individual alternative to the growing number of Audi A4 or BMW 3-series drivers on the road. The lower-powered 120PS version of the 1.9-litre diesel is a decent engine that's more than adequate for the task, but it predictably lacks the acceleration of its 150PS sibling.
The very impressive cost per mile figure makes a compelling case for the 9-3. The main rivals certainly can't get near this Saab in terms of value for money, but the dynamic talents or prestige badge of a BMW or Audi badge will still be enough to persuade many to pay the extra for the privilege.