Looking for something unconventional, eccentric? A Saab 9-3 Viggen review from 2002

svss_saab viggensvss_saab viggen badgesvss_saab viggen interior

I happened across this short review of the enigmatic 9-3 Viggen, and being a Saab I’d love to own one day, I thought I’d share it with everyone. I must admit, after reading it, it made me want one even more.

Highs Traditional quirky, offbeat turbo front-drive charm from Saab.
Lows Traditional quirky, offbeat turbo front-drive charm from Saab.

“Looking for something unconventional, eccentric? Here’s a machine that hides its ignition switch in the cup holder. Here’s a machine with a teeny four-cylinder engine hooked up to a turbocharger the size of a Shop-Vac. Here’s a little five-door hatchback that looks like no other car on the road. Here’s the Saab 9-3 Viggen.

We are dealing with the last of the throwbacks–the last mass-produced passenger vehicle on earth that stays the course, refusing to yield to bourgeois fashion and show-off technology. The 9-3 Viggen is the latest hot-rod version of the Saab 900 first introduced in 1994, and it now offers an impressive 230 horsepower from its 140-cubic-inch turbocharged four-banger that has been a part of the Saab inventory since Eric the Red left for Greenland.

Face it, Saabs are an acquired taste, like single-malt Scotch and reggae. Although five-door hatchbacks and front-drivers are not exactly out there, the Saab is one last cry of protest in an increasingly androgynous world.

Slip behind the wheel of a Viggen, and find a chairlike leather seat, a chin-high instrument panel and windowsill, and a shifter and ignition switch located in a pit below your right hip.

Sniff the distinctive odor of buttery-soft Saab leather, and you can be in only one place on the planet.

It goes not exactly like its Swedish-fighter-plane namesake, but it’s plenty quick enough to get it into the high-six-second range from 0 to 60 mph and to tie for first in this group from 0 to 100 mph and to be the winner from 0 to 120 mph (where the wonderful Whoopee Cushion turbo shows its muscle).

Once the rubbery shifter is mastered and the flexy chassis is understood, one can fairly fly in a Viggen. Imprudent throttle punches in slow corners can produce nasty lunges of torque steer, but once straightened out and with the turbocharger in full play, the Viggen is definitely a hoot to drive.

It’s cool that Saab has refused to accede to so-called contemporary styling and such nuances as four-wheel drive, naturally aspirated V-6s, or a swoopier, more aerodynamic body style. In a world of automobiles that only small boys and hard-core automotive writers can tell from one another–think Japanese cars–the Saab steadfastly clings to its roots.

For the unrepentant Saabistas and for those who have not forgotten George McGovern and the plight of the snail darter, this is a source of pride and comfort. For others, it is quaintness that is rapidly descending into obsolescence”.

Amazing picture of the Viggen found here.


6 thoughts on “Looking for something unconventional, eccentric? A Saab 9-3 Viggen review from 2002

  1. For me the Viggen is just the ultimate car, an absolute thrill every time I step inside. I have hundreds of photos that I’ve taken of the car…. I just can’t help it. It’s the ultimate Saab three door hatch in my opinion.

    I must be completely mad, but I’m actually selling my beautiful black Viggen at the moment. I’m sure I’ll regret selling it but it’s time to give my little old 900 Aero a little bit more time and attention 🙂

    • I wish you hadn’t posted this comment 🙂 a Viggen, for sale. Hum, not the right time, or I’d have been very excited.
      You can still send a couple of photos to share if you like 🙂

      I drove to work in the 900 convertible this morning, 2 weeks without being driven, started first time and drove beautifully, really does remind you why these cars are so iconic doesn’t it?

      • Why thank you sir, I’d love to share some photos.

        Here is my favourite photo of all time. It isn’t up to the standard of your own incredible shots but I still love to look at it. This is my beautiful black Viggen and my cherry red 900 Aero in the car park at my work on a quiet evening. Makes me wish I had a better camera…..

        With the Viggen, I’d love to offer it to you but unfortunately it would be a very long drive, because it is located in Melbourne, Australia 😀

        But locals can have a little search for “Viggen” on Carsales.com if they’d like to have a look, and there are lots of fresh new photos of my Viggen here….. Black & Red Ochre interior… Woohoo!

        Thank you for the free plug 🙂

      • Australia isn’t that far, not for a car like this 🙂 Anyone near Melbourne right now, in need of a rare and rather immaculate Viggen, this could be your moment

        Mike900, links didn’t seem to work so here’s one that should GO FOR IT

  2. I love Viggens. If it came the case that I could no longet run a 9K everyday, then a Viggen it would be! But it would need to be a black one with the black and orange seats! Uber cool.

  3. I’ve got a 5 door black Viggen sitting in my garage. Can’t wait for the snow to melt so I can take it out again. I don’t drive it in the winter because the season is so hard on cars here in Canada.

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