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New car reviews

2008 Saab 9-3

No Whining Allowed - Only Saab's

Lou Ann Hammond, Sun, 30 Sep 2007 08:00:00 PDT

I'm tired. I've worked all week, everyday, ten hours a day. My house is a mess and I'm tired of cleaning the same walls just to have them dirty again in a matter of days. I'm tired of weeding the same yard and I'm tired of going to the same gym to try to lose the same five pounds.

All of us feel this way at some point and the fastest way to help this moment pass is to pack up and move. Okay, not permanently, but for a couple of days at least. I just need to get out of this town. I want a night life, I want shopping, I want to find a hobby that is mine. I was talking to a friend and I asked her if she had a hobby and she said she shopped for her kids. I used to have hobbies, I know I did.

I need a place that is far enough away that I can't drive home and big enough that no one knows me. I want to get lost in the sea of people and not answer to anyone. I decide that Washington DC will be my destination. Washington DC is known for National Monuments and museums, but I'm not interested. I want to be pampered and find a part of myself that has nothing to do with anyone else.

The Fairmont (rooms starting from $189-$3,000, 202-429-2400; www.fairmont.com) is in the heart of Georgetown, located on 2401 M St. Since DC is on a grid all you have to do is find M Street and 24th St (as in 2401) and you're there. Celebrities such as Robert De Niro, Nicolas Cage, Gene Hackman and Will Smith have all stayed in Fairmont's $3,000 a night Suite, but that is a little more pampered than I can afford.

If you're someone who plans to eat breakfast at the hotel, work at the hotel and possibly have some appetizers or wine there ask about Fairmont Gold. For a small fee (around $100) you get all that and personalized service. When you consider it costs you $16 to print one page in the technology center, $25 for breakfast and $15 for a glass of wine (though cashews and kalamata olives were free at the bar), the Gold package can be well worth your money. Bring your Fairmont President's club number with you and you can get on the internet for free, no matter what room you're in.

If you would rather get out of the hotel there's a Starbucks around the corner or a European bakery around the other corner. If you want a sit down lunch or dinner you can find California cuisine or almost any ethnic cuisine within five blocks of the hotel. Trader Joes is around the corner from the Starbucks if you want some organic food.

If shopping is your bag, you're in for a treat. Ask the Fairmont concierge about the Fairmont shopping package that gives you a discount at ten of the shops around Georgetown. I went by Papersource (3019 M St NW, 202-298-5545; www.paper-source.com) on the hotel's recommendation. I wish I had known about some of the classes they offered ahead of time. I have so many photos that I would like to put in a beautifully made photo album, but I never have time to do it at home. I could have brought some photos with me and taken a photo album making class.

Another favorite of mine is to take an oil bath in the hotel's bathtub. Lush (3066 M Street N.W., (202) 333-6950; www.lush.com) is a boutique that has homemade soaps, shampoos and seaweed scrubs that make you glad you're not the one cleaning the bathtub. I got the "rich in oil" buffy body butter.

I wandered around Georgetown for awhile and then happened on Dupont Circle, just a couple blocks outside of Georgetown's district. I stopped at Beadazzled (1507 Connecticut Ave, NW, (202) 265-2323; www.beadazzled.net) and looked at all the beads and all the women in the shop. They were picking out string and beads, or precious stones, to make a necklace.

Ten years ago my Mother died and it came to me that I still had all her jewelry, including a cream colored pearl necklace that was broken. I had told myself that some day I would have it restrung. All of a sudden I had a project: I wouldn't just restring my Mother's pearl necklace, I would make a new necklace. I spent over an hour picking out ten pieces of brushed silver and a silver double-clasp. The silver was brushed and had a cream hue to it that would look lovely between my Mother's cream pearls. In a Freudian moment I realized that the silver was the shape of tears. I walked out of the store with a sad excitement.

When I travel and I'm tired I have a propensity to put off exercising. Somehow I am able to justify laying on my hotel bed, eating a snickers bar, drinking a diet coke and watching "Law and Order:Criminal Intent" instead exercising. At home I will usually go to group classes that have a designated beginning and ending. When I check into a hotel and have some extra time I always ask if they have group classes, just for that reason.

Like many big hotels in DC, the Fairmont allows locals to join the hotel gym. In return, the hotel has 3-4 classes a day, including pilates and water aerobics. The first day I was at the Fairmont the outside temperature was over 100 and the humidity made it even hotter and sticky. I looked out on the street and there was not a human being to be found on the streets. This was a good day to stay inside, take water aerobics, pilates or just watch television while I worked out on the treadmill.

Monday my girlfriend, Kate, and I headed out in a 2008 Saab 9-3 sedan. Saab (www.saabusa.com) has three new models that will hit the showrooms in September; a sedan (4-cyl, starting at $28,385; 6-cyl starting at $35,365), a convertible (4-cyl starting at $39,710; 6-cyl starting at $45,665) and a station wagon they call a SportCombi (4-cyl starting at $29,630; 6-cyl starting at $36,265). All three come in a 2.0T (as in turbo), 4-cylinder (210 horsepower and 221 torque) or an Aero 6-cylinder (255 horsepower and 258 torque for front-wheel drive; 280 horsepower and 295 torque for all-wheel drive).

Saab's new marketing campaign says they were "born from jets", but anyone who knows Saab knows that Saab is known for a great 4-banger with a turbo and low-end torque. Put a little mouse motor in a car that is sweetly tuned and give me a great power-to-weight ratio and I'll take that 4-cylinder turbo over a 6 cylinder any day. Why? It's less expensive, gets better gas mileage and nobody does a 4-cylinder better than Saab

Kate and I wind through the rolling hills of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains and stop at a little cafe, Market Salamander (200 West Washington St, Middleburg, VA, 540-687-8011; www.market-salamander.com), for a cup of coffee and a Swedish oatmeal cookie with cranberries (get it, Sweden - Saab). The cookie was delicious, but on an everyday basis I would make mine with less butter, more oatmeal and I would have added pecans.

Steve Shannon, General Manager, Saab USA, rode with us to the Airlie house for lunch. I am told that the Airlie Center is a 2,500 acre retreat where Martin Luther King Jr. stayed and planned his march on Washington. Shannon says that Saab will have a 9-3 flex fuel vehicle in the United States by next year. Odd, since Saab already has flex-fuel vehicles in Europe. In fact, the executive director of Saab, Knut Simonsson,Executive Director, Saab Global sales and marketing, told me that 90 percent of all vehicle sales in Europe are cars that are designated as environmentally safe.

we drive through the countryside Kate starts talking about her horse as the city turns to rural, then to horse country and then to hunting farms. "This area is where Jackie Kennedy used to come to hunt", my native east coast friend notes. Kate would know these things, her father helped build Route 6 on the Cape and she remembers when Saab was the car of professors and scientists in New England.

My road trip ends all too quickly, but Im excited to being going home, re-inspired to finish my project that I said I would start ten years ago.

 

 


The Fairmont, 2401 M St, Washington DC


lap lanes or treadmills


70% of all sales will be the sedan, 80% of all sales will be 4-cylinder (2.0T)


75% of all SportCombis will be 6-cylinder (Aero)

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