Full Speed Ahead: The 9-3 Swedish Saab

By Charlie Ascher

“Fart” in Swedish means speed. Just thought I’d give you all the heads up on that because I’m six and because Broke College Students in Cars Getting McDonalds would like to welcome another Swedish vehicle to its illustrious list of tested cars. So, without further ado, let’s go full fart ahead into this latest review. (Ok, I swear I’m done; might as well just get it out of the way now. I restate: I’m six.)

The Car: Black, Manual Transmission, 1st Generation 2001 Saab 9-3 Hatchback

Car Name: Tha Carter VI

The Owner: Jeremy Carter

Styling: Are you an architecture major? Because if your answer is yes then you should totally drive one of these things. This is not because the 9-3 was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright or someone like that, nor because it looks like it features dynamic living spaces (is that an architecture term? Because that should totally be an architecture term.) No, it’s just because architects seem to just really dig driving Saabs. The styling itself is honestly a bit of a weird confluence of different shapes thrown together and then rounded because apparently straight lines are just not allowed. It works for the most part – especially if you’re an architecture major.

Liebowitz-o-Meter: 3.5/5 Rons

Interior: The oval is a shape. The oval is a shape that Saab designers apparently had a cult-like obsession with when they designed the interior of the 9-3. Every designer who even tried to include a squared-off part was immediately fired. Also, do you want to roll down the windows? The usual answer to this question is to just push the window switch on the door panel. The Saab designers decided that this location was just too logical, so the switches are in the middle of the center console. Why? I have no idea. The seats are great, though, and comforted me as I spiraled into the mental instability brought on by Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage” playing for the majority of the drive. There’s not a ton of rear legroom but there’s enough space to hold you, a friend, and a medium sized deer. Pro tip: you won’t be able to get the keys out of the ignition unless you shut the car off in reverse. Again, I have no idea why this is a thing. Swedes are weird, man.

Liebowitz-o-Meter: 3.5/5 Rons

Handling and Performance: This Swedish rounded wedge of weirdness drives pretty well. It has good, nicely weighted steering and acceleration quicker than your power walk when you try to beat the 12:15 p.m. rush on burger day. A rare beast in this great nation of laziness, this particular 9-3 comes equipped with a manual transmission. (OMG what’s that other pedal do?!) The manual is easy and the shifter has nice, medium length throws. The clutch is a little bit vague with longer than usual travel, but it’s easy to get used to and it gets the job done.

Liebowitz-o-Meter: 4.5/5 Rons

Drive-through-ability: “A manual transmission does not a great drive-through vehicle make.” – Ronald McDonald. If you’re looking for minimal effort in the drive through, pay attention to Mr. McDonald’s wise words. When there’s a long line, you’re going to have to work that clutch. On a positive note, you’ll get a killer left calf workout. While the switches are strangely placed, the windows are powered, a necessity. A big deal breaker for the 9-3 is its lack of cup holders. Seriously, when are those Europeans going to realize that there needs to be at least 2 cup holders to every passenger?

Liebowitz-o-Meter: 3/5 Rons

Final Verdict: The Saab 9-3 is the perfect vehicle for the budding architect in you. While not the ideal McDonalds chariot thanks to certain design choices, it’s fun to drive and pretty practical (see, you’re getting solid consumer advice in this column!). As long as you’re down to deal with an interior designed by an oval-obsessed madman, you could do a lot worse.

Liebowitz-o-Meter: 3.62/5 Rons

Essential Stats: Carrying capacity of 4 adults or 5 college students. Approximate 24 mpg average. Trunk space for approximately 28 30-racks of Natty Ice.

McDonalds order: Bacon Clubhouse sandwich, medium fry, medium Coke.