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Fun 2 Drive Ratio

Saab 93: Swede and Sexy

In the automotive realm, Volvo and Saab are known as the Swedish guys. Volvo is renowned for its safe cars; Saab, on the other hand, is well known for not much more than quirkiness. But Saab has been around since 1937, making military airplanes for World War II, hence the name Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget (S.A.A.B. for short). The company has greatly contributed to the automotive industry. For example, Saab introduced headlamp washers and wipers in 1970, and, more recently, ventilated seats (cooling) in 1997, both features now found in high-end cars. The impressive aspect is that both of these innovations and many others were world firsts.

Obviously, Saab is a very serious automaker. So why did it have a problem selling cars? The answer lies in the way Saabs were shaped. That changed in 1999, when SAAB introduced the 95. This car is a striking departure from the traditional hatch-backed Saab, and, as a result, the company lost its traditional customer and gained a larger piece of the market. Saab sales increased by almost 1,000 percent (yes, a thousand) because of the 95. It is this same radical departure that reinvented the 93.

The new car is an unquestionable competition for the Audi A4, the BMW 3 series and the DaimlerChrysler C class. Not only is the 93 a significantly improved car, it is packed with nice technology and an automotive world first, yet again. The car comes standard with what Saab calls “The Profiler System,” which allows you to preset some functions in the vehicle to your personal preference. The interior is clean, crisp and well appointed, with the buttons clearly marked. The seats are the best in the industry. The 93 also launches the first vehicle-integrated Bluetooth application. This lets you perform convenience features such as getting online wirelessly with your laptop or PDA while in the car. There are three trim levels from which to choose: the Linear, Arc and Vector, in progressive order. The three available engines are all turbocharged, with power ranging from 150hp to 210hp. Scheduled maintenance is also included free for 3 years/36,000 miles. The nicest combo is the Vector with the six-speed manual transmission, navigation and OnStar, which retails for about $35,500.

Correction: “Flame surfacing,” as mentioned in the BMW Z4 review last week is a design method that uses fire to create surfaces.