Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Silver Sedan Challenge: Mazda 6 vs Saab 9-3

A challenger approaches.  Time for a competition, a face-off betwixt two cars -- and who doesn't love a good competition?  Imagine for a minute that you have a budget of $4k and are looking for a 5-passegner, manual transmission, modern sedan with a silver exterior.  In one corner we have a 2003 Saab 9-3 Arc offered for $3,800 in Rocky Point, NY and in the other corner we have a 2004 Mazda 6S offered for $3,800 in Tulsa, OK.

And yes, in case you were wondering, silver/grey is the best paint color for a family driver because it hides dirt, dust, grime, & bird poo like no other color.  On to the cars.  First is the Saab 9-3 which does come from the GM era at Saab, and is built on the Epsilon platform shared with the Fiat Croma, Saturn Aura, Chevy Malibu, Opel Vectra/Signa -- however, this is not just another GM penalty box.  The 9-3 Arc is powered by a 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-banger that pushes 210 horsepower and 221 ft-lbs of torque into a 6-speed manual gearbox.  This one does have some issues that the seller freely discloses -- needs O2 sensor, oil pressure sensor replacement, clutch pedal return spring, some broken interior bits -- but it would be a cool ride once sorted.

The Mazda 6 is also offered with a clutch pedal, but you only get 5 gears instead of 6.  However, it does have the optional Duratec V6.  The seller mentions something about a Ford Fusion engine swap, but they were both built on the Mazda GG platform, so the form/function/fit should be identical.  Either way, with 220 horsepower and 205 ft-lbs of torque the 6 should offer a decent quantity of zoom-zoom.

Which would you pick? Comments below.


  1. Can't see the add, but Mazda for the reliability and lower maintenance cost.

  2. Probably not going to pass New York inspection thus the sale. I vote for the turbocharger. Who doesn't like the turbo hiss and BOV pssssh? I can't see the add for the 6 but I would be very weary of anyone's engine "swap" on a used car.

  3. Saab all the way. Reliability was not really a problem on these (at least, not more than your typical non-Toyota). You want good records of oil changes with full synth to avoid sludging issues.

    But for under $4k, you're taking a risk anyway -- may as well get the car that can make big power with a $200 ecu reflash.

  4. SAAB all the way. If this had the V6 I'd probably hesitate but the 4s are amazing and very tuneable (is that even a word?) to 300+HP. These cars are pretty reliable, provided it's not the V6, and lots of fun to drive. Mazdas rust way too fast around here to be taken seriously...think Fiat back in the old days.

  5. Saab all the way, but not that one. For that money one should be out there without weird issues. I just sold a no issue 9-3 aero for $3500.

  6. Saab for sure. Had one in 2003. Fast and reliable out of the box. Austrian made Swede.

  7. That Mazda 6 looks like a mini Lincoln LS in the front....

  8. The ad says it all. The Saab has needs and always will, but the driving pleasure belongs to it.
    The Mazda would be the one for me. I don't like broken stuff.


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