Open Season: Saab 9-3 Aero 2.0T
Swede dreams are made of... Agnetha from Abba?
I've got the Saab gene, I think, having spent formative years in a V4-powered 95 estate and now the OH and I share a 2000 9-5 2.3t estate with Goose (the dog) for walkies and the like. (It's much more comfortable off-road than the PH long-term Land Rover Defender, although a little less 'go anywhere'...)
whenever they first appeared I knew I was going to like the latest one too, having requested a test drive for 'Open Season'. The surprise (for me) was how 'together' it felt on the road.
It's not a new machine, based as it is on a 2002 model that was effectively updated by a comprehensive facelift in 2008. But Saab convertibles have always stood the test of time from a style standpoint - for those of us with the gene, at least.
The Arctic White 9-3 Aero from the Saab press fleet that turned up in the PH car park the other week looked crisp and aggressive, with the latest TX Design Pack featuring dark accents around the grille and lower intake, side skirts, a neat boot lip spoiler topping-off a diffuser-style rear end, matched to some suitably Saabilicious 18ins alloys.
Fabric roof up, the headlining looks luxuriously padded, well finished and of good quality, but a quick dash up the dual carriageway revealed the limitations of Saab's NVH investment. There's a fair bit of wind noise (mainly coming from around the rear side windows) even at 60-70mph.
Our car arrived with the 210hp, 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and 5-speed automatic combo, which features paddly/flipper-type things on the steering wheel. It's jaunty rather than rapid, offering 0-60mph in 9.0secs, but that does feel a little faster with the roof down. The gearbox shifts pleasantly on its own too, and there's little benefit to be gained from playing with the flippers. Sadly the engine has a thrashy drone in its upper reaches, but at least it's not intrusive thanks to some proper bulkhead insulation and the wind roar you get in any convertible with the roof down.
And if your 'thing' is more about motoring in the classical sense rather than the pure driving dynamics that more hardcore PHers might be looking for, the Saab really can deliver - especially on a chilly winter day when the excellent cabin heating keeps your tatties toasted as you take the air on that favourite country route. (Alternatively you could take your new convertible to Abbott Racing and have some proper fun with it.)
There's a lot of thoroughly competent, prestigious and more up-to-date convertible action available at that price, from out-and-out sports cars to more cruisey numbers with four seats. Think Audi A5, BMW Z4, 1 and 3 Series, Nissan 370Z, Merc E-class and SLK, Porsche Boxster, Volvo C70... well, you get the picture.
You probably need the gene. For those of you that haven't got it, there's always Agnetha.
joking aside IMO not a pretty car.. like most modern saloon based cars a big fat arse with the lights way too high up.. A cabrio should be a bespoke car rather than the hacksaw job most saloon cars end up with. A cabrio should be special.. and yes we will have all the arguments that its a proper 4 seat car, blah bla blah, wind in the hair, blah blah blah.. well whats wrong with opening a window or a sunroof.. Bloaters like this just dilute the idea of a ragtop... IMO buy a used S2000 or a used Merc SL and for the money you save (off the list price of a new saab) buy a cheap run about to carry your brood of kids..
Or if you are a massive fan of old vectras and always longed for a Cavalier Mk2 Cabrio.. ta da... heres your dream car!
I quite like the convertibles, a bit less gauche or obvious than a BMW or Audi, but then, to be fair they just arent as good and thats from an owner.
I've got the gene but it manifests itself in a passion for "proper" old 900s.
I think in Cabrio form they are kind of classy in a way that BMW's and Audi's are not, not that those dont have some kudos, obviously but they are so common the Saab is a kind of "why" car, like Maserati's, defies most logic but they buy them anyway which gives them a bit of mystique.
39 grand is a bit enthusiastic though !
Until i ended up having one off my uncle at a good rate and then the ownership storey began......
It is the kind of car you have to own to appreciate, the supreme comfort and the interior is a generally nice place to be. The engine is gutsy in the midrange and although does not sing like a BMW 6 pot makes motorway driving a doddle. The handling is not bad either, better than any vectra, the saabs use Sachs suspension and different ARB's. I have updated my dampers and springs to bilstien shocks and eibach springs to replace the knackered old ones and the car is pretty solid now.
It has even been to the ring and i managed a 9m30s lap on my 5th attempt so not too shoddy for only the 175bhp mid pressure turbo.
In all they kind of get under your skin and are something different from mondeo man
Exactly why SAAB owners keep buying more of them - to be different from all the rest!