Friday, November 12, 2010

2000 Saab 9-3 Viggen - Saab's Answer to the M3 and S4

In general I prefer the old "classic" Saab 900 to the newer 900s and 9-3s. The newer ones are decent cars, they just lack something. Call it "Saabness".

However, if I were given a choice of this Saab and an older 900, there would be no contest. I'd take this car in a heartbeat.

The Saab 9-3 Viggen began life as the Saab 900 Concept Coupe in 1995. The car finally went on sale in 1999, with 426 3 door hatchbacks being sent to the US. (All were painted "Lightening Blue". Viggen means "thunderbolt" in Swedish.)

In 2000 Saab introduced the Viggen sedan and convertible. A total of 804 Viggens were sent to the US in 2000.

With its aerodynamic bumpers and side skirts, the Viggen looks slicker (both literally and figuratively) than the standard 9-3. Supposedly the bumpers, skirts and rear spoiler reduced the drag coefficient by 8 percent.

The engine was the jewel of this car. The turbocharged 2.3 liter I4 put out a whopping 225 HP. 60 MPH came in 6.4 seconds and its top speed was an electronically limited 155 MPH. To handle all that power, the Viggen had a heavy duty clutch, stiffer springs and shocks and stronger driveshafts and CV joints. The Viggen was also the first 9-3 with the Saab's Trionic 7 engine management system. This impressive system made "2,000,000 calculations every second from combustion temp, boost control, variable torque curves and many other critical engine processes".

When you bought a new Viggen here in the US you were given two days of advanced driving instruction at Road Atlanta. The program, operated by Saab and Panoz, was called the Viggen Flight Academy. You also got to have dinner with some Saab executives. (I'm not kidding.)

This is a very nice 2000 Viggen 4 door. It has 143,000 miles on it, but appears to be in great condition. The paint looks perfect and the interior looks like new. The seller says it is "mechanically in great shape".

If you buy a Viggen be aware that because of all the power going to the front wheels, they are prone to massive amounts of torque steer. Also traction control wasn't available on the Viggen until 2001. I, and many car geeks I know, find that kind of fun, but if you lend your car to a friend it's probably worth mentioning to them!

The newer Saabs don't have the legendary reliability that the old Saabs had, but a well maintained 9-3 can last over 200,000 miles. Maintenance is a must however, and parts are expensive.

Located in Lynn, MA, click here to see the Craigslist ad.

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