Saturday, February 18, 2006

Royal Ford: Give Credit, and Blame where it is due
In his review, "So close to being a fine car" By Royal Ford on February 11, 2006 in the Boston Globe, Ford gives a fairly reasoned appraisal of the 9-3 Sport Sedan. I like this car a lot, but have gripes about it, too, as did Mr. Ford. Mr. Ford stated: "But GM, you need to go the next step. Build this car with the interior quality of, say, a Volvo (or Kia or Hyundai) -- the entire interior. If you don't want to do that, then let somebody else buy Saab so it can be returned to the cutting edge." Thus he insinuates that some of the crummy interior materials are there because of GM. Is it his contention that nobody in Trollhattan had anything to do with interior? That interior was designed by Michael Mauer's team, not some good ol' boys from Detroit. The interior is sub-par for the car, but that is not a GM problem. How about the Saabs of old and their interiors? Mr. Ford views Saab's past through rose colored glasses. The interior of a classic 900 is filled with bits and pieces that looked like they were spec'd from an army surplus manual. There is nothing cohesive about the mix of parts and materials in those old cars. It is pure funk.

Mr. Ford also failed to point out the really good stuff GM has given Saab as exemplified in the 9-3. How about the terrific engines? Both are heavily modified for Saab use but are derived from GM global products. So is the fine chassis. We also can't forget gadgets. Saabs have always had them, and boy were they a pain! Cruise control, climate control, security systems and more are so much more reliable now than in the good old days. Is there a Classic 900 that didn't have a failed heater valve, broken cruise control (perpetually), window switches that failed, ignition switches that bound or froze, and ball joints that didn't disintegrate in 30,000 miles? Still, we loved those cars. And despite its foibles, we can love the Sport Sedan, albeit for different reasons.

Basta Mr. Ford! The past wasn't so perfect. The present isn't far from it.


Anonymous said...

I think you're nitpicking on Royal about the quality of the interior components. Who cares who was responsible? GM/Detroit or Saab/Trollhatten...the point is that the materials are indeed of lesser quality than they should be in a car in its class. As much as I dislike the layout/look of BMW interiors, their component materials are of a much higher quality. If Saab expects to sell more cars today, to market savvy consumers, it's simply going to have build them with better/higher quality components.

I think Royal's point about Saab in its heyday, was that Saab led the pack. Despite funky interiors, Saab led the car market in the 80s...certainly ahead of BMW. But that lead was lost in the 90s and has yet to be regained. Sure Saabs have improved since the 80s but only when you compare Saabs to Saabs. Compare Saabs today with a BMW or Volvo or Audi or Lexus, and you'll see it trail the pack.

It's unfortunate, because today's Saabs are basically great cars but contain many, albeit fixable flaws.

Anonymous said...

I prefer Ford Focus... You know, there are so many people who like that car. It is a great car for my money.