Saab has long been a troubled child. First it was the offspring of a jet
airplane company, quirky, but with a staunch following. Then it became
part of the General Motors family, where it has been conspicuously out
of step with its siblings.
No matter how the
General has tried to tame its Scandinavian adoptee, Saab just does not
seem like a part of the family. I am not sure how Saab does it, but
despite adopting the same type of engines (inline 4-cylinder or V6), and
the same orientation (transverse instead of north/south) as just about
every other carmaker, their cars still seem somewhat quirky.
It is not just the
funky ignition key between the seats, which confuses the heck out of
everyone except a Saabophile. I really do not know what it is, but when
you are in a Saab, you know itís just not quite normal.
I recently spent a week
in a bright yellow, Saab 9-3 2.0T Convertible. The 2.0T stands for
2-liter turbocharged; I have no idea what the 9-3 means. It's a nice
car, but convertibles aren't really my cup o' tea.
This is not to say
there is anything wrong with a Saab. There are darn few cars that over
their lifespan have maintained the uniqueness that makes them instantly
recognized. A Saab is one of those cars. Part of it is the grille and
another part is the overall proportions. You see it coming and you know
itís a Saab.
The 9-3 Convertible is
a four passenger car, losing one seat compared to its four-door sibling.
As you would imagine the front doors are longer on the Convertible to
allow easier access. Unfortunately this makes it more difficult to open
the doors when youíre in a crowded parking lot, and a whole lot easier
to ding the car next to you.
What would a
convertible be without a soft top? I really like up market soft tops,
they use real cloth that holds its shape much better than vinyl. The
tops are usually padded too; and the Saab's is padded.
Say you are out driving
in San Francisco and it is cool and foggy. Then you cross the Golden
Gate into Marin and the sky opens up to a beautiful blue and the
temperature warms to a pleasant 85 degrees F. In the Saab you can pull
off to the side of the road, set the hand brake and hit that one button!
The top neatly folds itself into its hidey-hole under the hard cover and
you are back on the road in one cool convertible in seconds. You have to
Sometimes I shudder to
think of the problems a one-touch top will encounter ten years down the
road, all those pesky little micro switches, but they are a pure joy to
I did find one
confusing feature on the Saab. It has an automatic climate control, I
just love them because I just set it and forget it, but it seemed to
stop working and I couldn't figure it out at first. Normally, once
you've selected "Auto" it stayed that way, but all of a sudden on
Saturday the a/c turned itself off every time I turned the engine off.
It was driving me crazy.
Then I figured it out
when the top is up, the auto feature works just fine, the a/c is always
on. When you put the top down, the auto feature is deactivated. Why
Saab? I like a blast of cool air on my face even when the top is down.
Under the hood sits an
extremely nice 2.0-liter, DOHC, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that
produces 210 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission
is standard and a 5-speed automatic is optional. The 9-3 I drove had the
automatic. Maybe I am getting old (I am) but I am starting to prefer
automatic transmissions, at least on cars like the Saab that could be
called a Grand Touring Convertible.
Not that you cannot
have fun on the back roads in the 9-3 2.0T Convertible, you most
definitely can. I just find that when I am driving an open top car I
prefer a more leisurely pace so I can hear, see, and smell the
countryside. If I am tearing up the countryside I like to have a hardtop
over my head. So if I am going to relax, why not let the transmission
Like many convertibles
you lose trunk space when the top is down. The Saab's shrinks from 12.4
to 8.3 cubic feet, so do not plan on taking your wife and in-laws to the
Grand Canyon in the 9-3 2.0T Convertible unless you all pack real light.
The Saab 9-3 2.0T
Convertible is rated at 18-city and 24-highway mpg with the automatic,
and 18-city, 27-highway with the manual transmission. Prices start at
$40,700 and go up depending on your order. There is also a 9-3 Aero
Convertible with a V6 that starts at $46,385.
By Bruce Hotchkiss ©
AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Byline: Compact SUV
Review provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Saab Home Page
Column Name: The Saab
9-3 is like a Grand Touring Convertible
Topic: The 2008 Saab
Word Count: 913
Photo Caption: The 2008
Saab 9-3 Convertible
Photo Credits: Saab
9-3 Internet Media
Series #: 2008 - 63
the Microsoft Word version here:
2008 Saab 9-3 Convertible
Download the Original Image File here:
2008 Saab 9-3 Convertible