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Saab 9-3 Sportwagon: Test Drive

Date: 28 June 2007

Category: Compact exec
Prices: £19,575-£34,495
Key rival: BMW 3-series

Saabism, for those not in the know, is the certain je ne sais quoi the Scandinavian marques of yesteryear used to exude.

Whether wraparound screens or the most complicated way of hinging open a bonnet you've ever seen, Saabs were renowned as automotive engineering testbeds that along the way helped pioneer advances in safety and introduce the world to turbocharging.

Sadly, under GM the firm's individuality has been suffocated by platform and technology sharing, but Saabism, according to Saab head honcho Carl-Peter Forster, is back and the revised 9-3 is only the beginning of the Swedish brand's renaissance.

Gaining the world-acclaimed Concept X's snout, the new 9-3 is striking in a good way, although a few details let the side down, like the slab-sided doors, inelegant door handles and aftermarket-looking rear lamps on the saloon.

Inside it's more good news. Black replaces the old 9-3's grey as dashboard colour and it looks all the better for it. The top of the range Aero model we drove came with optional touch-screen satnav that was both intuitive and easy to use, if a little slow at times. Seat comfort, as always, challenges the class for best, and was soft but supportive.