I think success or heartache probably is related to maintenance, how the car is driven and how well the owner/driver actually UNDERSTANDS the car. I cannot think of a single fine European car that will give good service when treated like a Chevy or a Toyota.
Traditionally, American cars are great at brute force, brute comfort (plush/slush rides, hot heaters and cold air conditioning) and a staggering indifference to maintenance. Things have changed considerably from the days of brutish V-8s and turbo-hydramatics, but those fundamentals still tend to hold true.
The best Japanese cars have excellent fit and finish, are quite decent all around and ALL of the systems - not just the major ones, but every single system and subsystem - tend to be reliable beyond imagination.
The finer European cars have an aura that so far can't quite be matched by anyone else. They have a bond with the road that is too much for some; they bring the road to your butt and your hands and your brain and your heart and your soul. And there's a price for that: The owner of such a car has to be aware. Such a car cannot be properly cared for passively; it has to be cared for aggressively. Such a car begs to be driven, and hard driving demands aggressive maintenance.
Are the fluids changed religiously? Are the PROPER fluids used? As far as driving, I don't expect anyone to baby a turbo Saab, but is the aggressive driving line crossed into abusive driving? If you slam shift a Saab, you're going to be busting a lot of motor mounts. And wearing out a lot of syncros. Experimenting with the plugs? Failing to change them when they need it? Hmm, wonder what that does to the DI cassette?
Aware. And Care. Important words for Saab owners.