As you now know, we’re moving to Sweden. And as I sold my Alfa (quite literally) just five minutes before starting this post, my mind is now on what keys will be in my pocket when we’re living there.
This is a genuine quandry, and one I wouldn’t mind your collective advice on. My default is to go with the most fun at the cheapest price. But I might be growing up. And I might have some miles to do and need some reasonable accommodation and decent mileage. My penchant for classics might not cut the mustard here.
- There are going to be a lot of furniture and appliance purchases in my near future, so the ability to cram a lot in the back makes some sense.
- Fuel economy – have you seen Swedish fuel prices?
- Automatic – Yes, I’m finally succumbing to age and I’m a bit tired of rowing my own gears in traffic. Plus, it’ll be easier for Caro (who’s already going to be challenged by the steering wheel being on the wrong side of the car, and the car being on the wrong side of the road).
- Heated seats.
- Carplay – or the ability to integrate Carplay. This has become a non-negotiable for us. It pretty much rules out all button-dash Saab 9-3s, but everything else can be converted, it seems.
My ideal two-car garage – in the long term – would be to have something modern, small and economical that we’d both drive in the colder months with something fun to pull out of storage in the warmer months. An Abarth 595 and Saab 99, 96 or 900, for example. Maybe something electric instead of the Abarth will be feasible by the time we’re in that position. Maybe there’ll be an electric car with character by then.
But that’s the long term.
When we hit the ground in Sweden, we’re going to need one car to do it all. Or most of it, at least. We also need to buy an apartment, so cost is going to be an issue as we’d like to minimise our mortgage.
I’m thinking that I can address this issue in either of two ways.
A) Buy a cheap-ish load-lugger for the short term and then get a longer term car in 6-12 months, or B) Look for something spacious with a medium term view, a car that’ll also consume a reasonably small amount of fuel (relative to its size). And then we get the ideal two-car setup in a few years from now.
The top end of our budget is around 150,000 – 170,000 SEK.
Here are the options I’ve come up with so far:
Saab 9-5 Aero Wagon
This would be instantly familiar. I had a 9-5 Wagon in (manual) Vector form for my whole 4 years in Sweden between 2015 and 2019. It was super comfortable, could swallow a whale, and it proved to be very reliable.
How comfortable was it? I also had a 1995 Jaguar XJR for six months and the 9-5 left it for dead in the comfort department. The seats, the ride, everything. It wasn’t the theatrical event that the Jaguar was, but on a practical level, the 9-5 was a much more comfortable long distance car.
It’s in Skane and it’s just 22,500 SEK. It’s a high miler, of course. Most of these are, now. But I’ve got a guy just outside Angelholm who’s a Saab guy, and who used to wrench on Koenigseggs for a living. He knows his stuff. Anything that needs doing, Mika can get it done.
If I want something with less mileage, this one’s only done 150,000 kms but it’s more than twice the price, at 49,900 SEK.
Getting a 9-5 would one of those short-term solution situations, most likely. It’s affordable, it’ll swallow a whale, and ….. well, it’s a Saab. And I love Saabs. That second one could do me well for a couple of years but I don’t know if I want to spend that much on a 9-5 Wagon.
The downside is that it’s old engine technology and it’s not going to be great on fuel (and have you seen Swedish fuel prices?? Did I mention those earlier??).
Saab 9-3 Aero
My two favourite Saabs that I’ve owned are my 99 Turbo and my Viggen. That generation of 9-3 is my generation of Saab. They still look great today, and despite the chassis flaws, they’re still good to drive.
This 9-3 Aero is a 5-door (there don’t seem to be many 3-doors) but it looks tidy enough in the ad and has reasonable mileage. It’s advertised on Blocket for 34,900 SEK.
The 9-3 and 9-5 can both be retro-fitted with double-DIN stereos with Carplay. It doesn’t look so great, but it’s possible.
The 9-3 won’t take as much gear as a 9-5 wagon but it’s still got a decent load capacity.
Again, though, it’s old-school engine tech and it’s not going to be as good on fuel as the more modern offering listed below.
This is one of the long terms options. It’d be great on fuel while still being lots of fun to drive.
It throws the load-lugging criterion out the window, though. Everything would have to be delivered if I went with this option.
This one’s for sale on Blocket for 129,900 SEK. It’s one of the cheaper ones on there. I’m not sure that it can be retrofitted with Carplay but it has a USB input, I believe, so maybe we’d just make do with that. I wouldn’t like it, but we could do it. If we had to.
For those Italia-sceptics out there, I’ve just sold an Alfa Giulietta QV that I had for three years with near-zero problems. The only I issue I had in that time was with a bottom radiator hose connection. Everything else was fantastic. I know Italian cars have a reputation, but that’s an historical issue from my point of view. And somewhat underserved. This was my 6th Alfa and they’ve all been great.
I’d get one of these with no concerns at all. And it’d be more fun than a sack full of puppies, I reckon.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
The classic one-car-to-do-it-all. The GTI.
It’s German. It’s one of three German cars on this list, actually. And that troubles me.
The Germans all present as very compelling options on paper. Before you drive them. I’ve only had two German cars in my lifetime. A Porsche 968CS and a Porsche 928S. The 928 needed the most work of any car I’ve owned and while the 968 was an incredible performance machine, it was so incredibly competent, so well balanced, so in-control of everything it did that it was…. boring.
My concern is that the Germans do cars too well sometimes. But, maybe I need to dip my toe in the GTI waters to see what all the fuss has been about.
This one is red. That’s a genuine selling point for me. In a world of monochromatic road fleets, this could actually put a smile on my face. It’s for sale on Blocket for 134,700 SEK and has 160,000 kms on it.
It’s got 210hp. It’s got the tartan seats that add some character to the interior. It’s got funky five-hole wheels. And it’s a hatchback, so it’s versatile enough to fit mid-size purchases in.
It’s not great on fuel economy around town (10 litres per 100kms) but improves on the highway, going at just 5.9l per 100 kms.
It’s an option. It’s kind of grown up and a little bit childish. Just like me.
Audi A5 Sportback
This is me growing up. Maturing.
I’ve always been partial to a hatchback and I’ve always found the A5 – both the coupe and the sportback – to be rather handsome.
It’s sophisticated and elegant on the inside, and there are Carplay options that allow you to keep the original screen and OS while running Carplay in the background, switching between the two according to your needs.
This one’s in dark blue – a colour I love – and has interesting wheels (the wheels maketh the car, as you know). It has 110,000 kms on the clock and is for sale for 149,900 SEK.
The sportback body style has a large opening at the back, so it’ll accommodate all our needs for some time. It’ll be comfortable, adequately powered and well equipped. Fuel economy isn’t bad, either, at 7.5 litres around town and 6.4 on the highway (VW Group fiddly numbers notwithstanding, of course).
One downside is that this engine has a reputation for drinking oil. There were words to the effect of “it is not unusual for this engine to consume a litre of oil per 1000kms” in the owners manual. Yikes!
BMW 328i Gran Tourismo
It’s one of those weird BMW coupe-but-not-a-coupe things. It’s not quite “the answer to the question that nobody was asking” (i.e. the BMW X6), but it’s close.
On the upside, I’ve seen a 5-series version of this swallow an entire Ikea Landskrona sofa – the 4 seater. It can take plenty of gear in the back. It’s also got plenty of passenger space, is well equipped and at 6.8 litres per 100 kms in mixed driving, it’s pretty good on fuel for its size and power (245hp).
This one’s done 160,000 kms and is for sale at the very top end of our budget, at 169,900 SEK.
It’s a BMW, which is something I’ve never owned. I’d feel a little bit dirty, to be honest, but it does look rather comfortable and capable. Again, there are Carplay options that let you add it to the existing system, as with the Audi.
Mercedes 380 SL
Why? Because I’m an idiot.
This car has nothing that we need. It barely has a stereo and you’d have to tow your own fuel pump behind it.
But where else can you get a Mercedes 380 SL for that money? The cheapest one for sale in Australia right now is nearly 500,000 SEK. This one is for sale for 159,000 SEK!!!!
Just beautiful. Just beautiful.
So what do you think?
What have I missed?
Aside from the Saabs at the beginning, I’ve not owned any of these cars before. I’m flying blind, here.
Is there anything else I need to know? Is there any other make/model I should be seriously looking at?
Your thoughts will be my food for thought.