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I recently had the opportunity to test drive a Saab 9-2 Aero and was surprised that the steering/handling did not feel as crisp as I was expecting.
First, it may be helpful to add some background information. I currently drive an unmodified Acura RSX-S (with 150,000 miles on it). I am at the point in my life where I would prefer a 4 door car that can support a roof rack. The Subaru WRX (and Saab 9-2x Aero) seem to meet these requirements.
I found a 2005 Saab 9-2x Aero on Craigslist for $7,000 (130,000 miles) with good service records, so I deiced to take it for a test drive. Based on prior research, I was expecting a car that handled very similarly to the RSX-S. During the test drive, I was underwhelmed by the steering. The steering felt very light (more like my Mom's Toyota corolla than the Acura RSX-S), and the car did not feel planted through the corners (which is the opposite of what I have read about this car). I expected the suspension to feel a bit worn (the suspension is original), but I still expected the steering to feel firm and responsive (note, I think it was responsive, but very light). Other than that, the car looked really nice (interior in perfect condition, minimal scratches/dents, etc.).
My first question is whether very light steering is typical for these cars and if they typically feel planted when going around a corner. I can deal with it for the right price if it just needs new suspension and tie rod ends, but I may pass if these are typical characteristics of the car.
My second question is whether anyone has an idea a fair price to offer (these cars seem hard to price). This is a 2005 Saab 9-2x Aero without any of the add-on packages (i.e., no moon roof, cloth seats, 16" rims). My initial thought is that $7,000 is a bit high, but in the ballpark.
Thank you in advance for any input.
Last edited by photon (2017-03-06 19:30:44)
WRX/92x were never known to have great handling out of the box, a 12 year old car on stock bits is going to be even more vague. The 92x uses the later WRX steering rack which is a faster ratio so it does feel more responsive than MY02-05 WRXs. But even a mediocre alignment can make these things feel sloppy, my car with snow tires and very little camber up front feels like it wants to push off the road at turn in, not impressive.
Get some decent tires, a good alignment, replace struts, end links and probably tie rod ends and you can have a fun handling wagon.
I am at the point in my life where I would prefer a 4 door car that can support a roof rack.
That is a very broad category for you to limit it to the WRX and Saabaru - do you also need AWD and a wagon? I'm sure there are quite a few 4 doors that can support a roof which would also be fun to drive. Of course I'd be partial to a saabaru and they can be had for very good prices compared to same year Subarus.. because Subie bros.
If the car is on stock springs/struts and 12 yr old bushings, it's gonna feel a little lighter than you're wanting. I think the thing that people comment on about the 92x handling the most is the steering ratio since it's nice and quick due to the rack being different than the same year Subarus. My car is on coilovers and a larger rear sway bar and I think those both help a lot with keeping it planted during cornering and giving it a more neutral steering characteristic vs. understeering like a pig. My handling could be further improved by replacement front control arm bushings and a roll center correction kit (replacement tie rods and ball joints).
I will confess that, stock, even new in 2005, I thought the 9-2X's overall "feel" was a disappointment then coming from my 1988 Mazda 626 Turbo with 4-wheel-steering. A light-weight FWD car with low center of gravity just feels more natural to me. But, it is partly a matter of getting acclimated to something different. A real shock for me was when I replaced the 9-2X with a 3-cylinder Focus, which has some of the lightest steering and clutch I've ever experienced.
Light steering with no road feel might also be a tires and alignment issue. With the control arm recall performed, a 20mm rear sway bar, and summer tires, I thought mine felt pretty nice, and better than I remembered new (right before I sold it). The new control arms and bushings, and a fresh alignment, made a big difference on-center.
Thank you for the responses everyone. I am still on the fence, and may wait until I have the opportunity to try a few more cars before making a final purchase.
That is a very broad category for you to limit it to the WRX and Saabaru - do you also need AWD and a wagon? I'm sure there are quite a few 4 doors that can support a roof which would also be fun to drive. Of course I'd be partial to a saabaru and they can be had for very good prices compared to same year Subarus
I am not necessarily limiting myself to subaru, but the wrx/9-2x made it to the top of my list because it is combines fun/practicality/reliability. I would prefer a hatchback, but the AWD is probably not necessary.