September 13 2011 6:57 AM
First the SAAB 9-3 ARC! The USA is the only country that I can find that gets this car with just the 210bhp engine! The rest of the world gets a whole load of engines, but not that one. IMO GM has totally rogered and screwed up SAAB something terrible. Here's what most of us get in our 9-3 ARC?1.8i 122bhp, 1.8t 150bhp, 2.0t 175bhp, 2.2TiD 125bhp. And I am more than happy for that!! Here in Finland a nice spec ARC with the 175bhp engine is still 3000euro cheaper than the Aero! And having driven both believe me it's 3000euro well saved! The 175bhp is much more fluid and graceful and it tramlines about 95% less than the 210bhp job! Even compared to a pre GM aero the new is just plain USELESS!! Oh and consider this for a minute. In Finland the law stipulates that you must have winter tires fitted to all the wheels of your car from the 1st November to the 30th April.Winter tyres are either full studded jobs or the hideously expensive "high grip rubber" ones. And even with all the electronics switched on all the time and a very gentle foot on the accelerator you can still bet that the 210bhp will have either ripped all its studs our or smoothed them all off in about 8 weeks! Even if you buy the best studded tires from Nokian at 850euro each!! Oh and the "high grip" jobs offer no where near enough grip! Its wheel spin city with the traction control going ape!
As for the Audi, well the A4 with that engine just plain doesn't exist in the UK or Finland! You get either 163bhp or 190bhp! And having driven both of these, IMO you defiantly have to be looking at the 190bhp. The 163bhp felt decidedly underwhelming whereasthe 190bhp was much better and really felt like an engine that would always have some power left in reserve. And the chassis really responds much better to the extra power! The inside isn't much better than the SAAB but at least the Audi has a much better steering wheel! The A4 in either engine form doesn't really munch tires and the 190bhp is a real blast in the snow!
So IMO get the 175bhp SAAB or the 190bhp A4. Both just as good as each other, with the SAAB being more friendly and the Audi being the real speed merchant!