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Saab 9-3 Convertible Aero – on sale now

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Review

The Saab 9-3 convertible falls into a bit of a blindspot. While most prospective buyers of saloon based soft-tops are considering the likes of the BMW 3-series and the Audi A4, the 9-3 is off the beaten track.

The up side of this, however, is that it gives it a bit of individuality appeal and means people who choose one are not going to blend in with the crowd.

Not only that but the 9-3 is a great car to drive. Developed alongside the standard sports saloon version, the stiff chassis means it’s easy to forget it is a convertible, while even with the roof down there is no evidence of scuttle shake. Roof up, there is a little wind noise and the absence of squeaks or rattles and means it’s a pleasant place to be.

The 2.0-litre turbocharged engine is superb and with 210bhp it loves to be revved, giving its best performance at the top end. Together with the six-speed gearbox, the 9-3 delivers the power smoothly without the need to be thrashed. However, the penchant to keep the rev counter in the top echelons can make it difficult to get the fuel economy to the claimed 31mpg – 27mpg is a more realistic figure with plenty of motorway cruising.

The only real criticism is the quality of the interior. For a product costing the best part of £30,000 it’s a shame the cabin doesn’t echo the great styling of the car itself. Too many buttons and a dated centre console let it down somewhat, and explain why the Saab is left behind by the likes of BMW and Audi.

Strengths: Handles well, stylish looks, individual character
Weaknesses: Interior doesn’t have quality of rivals
Opportunities: Alternative to mainstream convertibles
Threats: Quite pricey
The USP: Sexy Saabs are back
Price: £29,795
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged 210bhp
Transmission: 6spd manual, fwd
Performance: 0-62mph 7.7sec; top speed 143mph
Efficiency: 31mpg; 218g/km CO2
CAP RV (3yr/30k): £14,125 (47%)
Rivals: Audi A4 Cabriolet, BMW 3-series Convertible, Mercedes CLK Cabriolet, Volvo C70

Driven: Saab 9-3 1.9 SE TTiD Sportwagon

Could this be the last time AM runs a road test on a Saab?

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