One of finest and most original country estates in the UK, Calke Abbey was the destination for a family day out, lunch, culture and a great 100 mile round trip – perfect.
25 miles of winding cross country roads, 25 miles of motorway either way; a great opportunity to enjoy the SAAB 9-3 TTiD and also to write the first ‘test drive’ review.
The people of SAAB have really done an amazing job when it comes to disguising the diesel heart of this car; smooth, economical, powerful and class leading refinement.
The Hirsch exhaust with dual tail pipes has helped give it more purposeful acceleration and a pleasing sound, both adding to the driving enjoyment, whilst the 200hp Hirschupgrade seems to have boosted the performance way beyond the figures quoted, providing a superbly smooth turbo boost from 1500 right through to 5000 rpm. Over the first few weeks of owning the car, I’ve quickly become reliant on the seemingly endless serge of power when needed, especially whilst overtaking. Of course, this isn’t unique to the 9-3, every SAAB I have owned has also provided this level of overtaking confidence.
The SAAB has short and very precise gear changes with a smooth clutch which has made changing back to a manual from an automatic car highly enjoyable. On the motorway, 6th gear gives you plenty of power when required, even from as low as 1500 rpm, and settles into a refined cruiser. Flick on the cruise control, and you could sit there all day. The roads leading to Calke Abbey are perfect for pushing the SAAB a little more, and it really does begin to involve you; corners are a pleasure with little roll thanks to the Hirsch springs, whilst the larger wheels and tyres give you a very confident grip. The SAAB gives just enough feeling through to the steering wheel, with very slight understeer, whilst the Hirsch brake upgrade is quite possibly the best money I’ve ever spent – no other car I’ve driven has come close for response or power.
I’m loving the quality and comfort of the interior, the soft leather seats offer superb support and position (although the bolsters are extremely soft, and will crush easily, so will require care so that they remain in good condition). The only other continuing issue I have, is the rather irritating rattle, now traced to the roof lining, so I’ll call the SAAB dealer shortly to see if this can be rectified.
With the journey over and enjoyed by all, I took a few moments to take some photos. The SAAB most definitely suited the location – reflecting its elegance, style and exclusivity perfectly.
In conclusion, the SAAB is the perfect car for a family day out, ample room for everything and anything you’d need to keep everyone happy for a long drive.
No more “Are we there yet”.