It was enough to make the nervous driver flinch with tension and questions flashed through my mind — was the car up to the conditions and how would it react if I was forced to stop or swerve suddenly?

I knew how my own car would behave but this was a different proposition. Would the Saab 93 be consistent, or would I discover a quirk just when the rain was teeming down on a dark Saturday night on the M40?

Would that twin turbo, so impressive on dry roads, cause the car to skid on standing pools of water without the benefit of four-wheel drive?

I need not have worried. The car behaved as you would wish it — calm, collected and with no nasty surprises. In fact, its behaviour was barely affected by the weather at all, save a roar in the wheel arches from the water.

All of which put my mind at ease and allowed me to concentrate on completing the journey to Oxford with no unwelcome interruptions.

I suppose I should have expected this from a company which models itself on safety and driving quality in difficult situations.

In fact, predictability could be a byword for the 93 these days, not that the term necessarily means it is boring.

It is predictably fast, corners entirely predictably and extremely well and, predictably, is very comfortable to drive.

My resident Saab expert describes this slick performance as a little bit too smooth and corporate for his liking, compared to the more eccentric 9000 of the 1990s but I wasn’t put off, just impressed with the drive.

The main reason for this is the engine which, as mentioned before, has two turbos under its long bonnet, mated to a 1.9 litre diesel engine.

Diesel — now that does sound boring. Don’t you believe it. I didn’t really register the implications when Harry Bathe at Saab in Cumnor Hill said the performance of this new unit was equivalent to the 2.8 V6 petrol model.

But it is true. On the first available piece of road I put my foot down and the car took off, although in a very safe, predictable way, with the steering firming up and the car almost perceptibly squaring its haunches for a welcome burst of speed.

There was no turbo lag, one complementing the other as it seamlessly reached 60mph in what seemed like the blink of an eye. It wasn’t what you would call exhilarating but it was exciting enough, especially when you consider that a generation ago diesel power was confined to lorries and taxis.

This engine is a joy and right up there with BMW as far as development is concerned. Clatter has been replaced by a nicely-muted roar from the twin exhaust pipes and all thoughts of petrol perorming better are set to the part of your mind labelled ‘reconsider.’ There is more good news when you see the fuel economy. In saloon form, this car returns a startling 50mpg on the combined cycle with the estate test model just below that figure.

Again, this was put to the test that wet night when both garages I could find in Windsor were sold out of diesel and I was forced to limp home on a quarter of a tank.

Thankfully, by the time I pulled in to the main service station at Wheatley, I still had about 40 miles of fuel left, according to the onboard computer which would have seen me home, had I been a gambling man.

So, all of that is good news for Saab. Unfortunately it’s not all plain sailing for the Swedish manufacturer. Some years ago you will remember that it was taken over by global giant GM, owner of Vauxhall, Chevrolet, etc.

The upshot of this is that, while it still performs and handles as a Saab should, the car’s interior is extremely dull, with acres of grey plastic everywhere. Standard equipment is also a little lacking compared to competitors, most notably Honda’s Accord. Yes it has sat-nav and a computer but these seem very much ‘bolted on.’ There are no automatic headlights or wipers, and no power seats. Bear in mind this car costs £27,000 on the road. And, incredibly for a company that invented the heated seat, there are none on this Vector Sport model, which was not appreciated on these cold, wet autumn mornings.

As for interior space, it is fine in the front but family members complained of being cramped in the rear. I tried it and my knees were pushed against the seat.

Why should this be? I reasoned that in fact the 93 is a very old design, emerging from the similarly shaped 99 of the late 1970s. At the same time, I suspect it is slung much lower to the road on its sporty suspension than its predecessor, which means there is less depth in the rear footwells to give knee space.

In typical Swedish style, the 93 has evolved into a modern-looking car but at the expense of something I would have thought essential.

Ultimately, the 93 is a great driver’s car with exceptional performance and great handling. It is well made and will probably be extremely reliable, if its anything like its predecessors.

But where it loses out to the huge amount of competition in this class is on the inside. And that matters a lot.