1996 Saab 9000 Aero Review

by Larkin Hill

Oh, so exotic, so rich, and so powerful! I’ve forever been fond of Saabs, they’ve always caught my eye. Yet, while they’ve attracted me in many ways, somehow their hatchback style never struck me as sophisticated and expensive (which is how they’re categorized).

The improved 9000 has changed all that. Although it still has a hatchback, and looks like a combination of the Saab 900 and a Volkswagen Jetta, the enhanced geometrical shape somehow creates a classier, more elegant look (a hatchback that doesn’t look like a hatchback). At any rate, the Saab 9000 is beautiful and comes in 3 versions: CS, CSE, and Aero.

The flashy red Saab 9000 Aero I drove was not only admired by me, but by most of the people I passed. Shapely and deluxe, I received more questions about this vehicle than I was expecting. It’s seldom seen here in Northern California, thus giving a unique advantage to anyone who purchases one (you’ll most likely get talked to, or about). It had spiffy tires, a spoiler, and even head light wipers (you know the ones they have on some of the Mercedes). It’s a sweet looking sporty family car.

The exterior appears significantly smaller than most luxury cars, so I expected the interior to reflect this, but no! Sliding into the passenger seat was a breeze, the soft leather melted around me to create the perfect fit. The seats actually hug your body. One drawback seemed to be the lack of an armrest between the front seats (I didn’t miss it, but my dad complained). The front electric seats curve to your every desire, gliding up or down, forward or backwards, and tilting to and fro (there’s memory too). The interior felt like it had the space of a car twice its size…tall people even fit in the back (unheard of in most cars). The Saab fits four, the back seats are bucket style and there is a divider with cup holders that can be pulled down. It’s even as comfortable as an American luxury car.

Having already admired the look and feel of the Saab 9000, I assumed it would perform well too (it’s expensive after all). Um, Whoa! Words can’t do justice to the power…it’s a turbo, and if you’ve never driven a turbo, those suckers kick ass. The 9000 Aero’s 3.0 liter 4-cylinder turbo charged engine packs a hefty 225 horsepower punch. This is more horsepower than available in many full size trucks, and you feel it. In fact, the 9000’s alternate "new for 1996" normally aspirated V-6 only produces 210 horsepower. After driving a few turbo charged cars almost everything else is boring. I find I enjoy the sudden boost of power when your entire body becomes one with the seat (like takeoff in a jumbo jet!

Overall, I was in love …once again the sensation of a luxurious car left me fulfilled and in awe. In fact, everyone that drove and rode in the Saab was amazed and breathless. The special parts of the Saab were it’s incredible interior comfort and excellent handling on the road. Saab meshed the best creature comforts of an American luxury car with the flawless handling of an European import. It’s lighter and has a smaller frame than most luxury cars, yet more roomy and cushy inside. The Saab is made by GM of Europe which might explain it’s one quirk… the brake light built into the top of the hatchback continuously breaks (it has a problem of being too brittle and can’t handle the shock of the trunk closing, weird since it’s always been there). Aside from that one recurring problem, the Saab 9000 Aero shines. It’s wonderful to look at, heavenly to drive, and a dream to ride in. The Saab 9000 Aero is a perfect family luxury sports car.

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