Fleet News

Saab 9-3 Convertible 2.0t Linear

Review

THE immortal lyric ‘summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the street’ must be on a loop in the minds of staff at the UK offices of Saab this month.

Official sales figures for May show that Saab achieved its best share of the UK car market since imports began in 1960, with a tally of 2,382 cars, giving the company a record 1.27% share of the new car market.

For the first five months of the year, Saab’s registrations increased by 37% on 2004, at 11,229 cars. This success – much of it down to increased fleet sales through its closer links with Vauxhall – was achieved in a lacklustre market, down 3% compared to May 2004.

Saab reported a 78% increase in 9-3 Convertible registrations during May in a booming ‘ragtop’ market. Six per cent of the cars sold were convertibles, up from 5.4% in 2004 and the highest share of the market ever held by the segment. So it is with unnerving timing that Fleet News begins a long-term test of a 9-3 2.0t convertible.

The range consists of three spec levels – Linear, Vector and Aero – and a choice of 1.8-litre 150bhp, 2.0-litre 175bhp and 2.0-litre 210bhp engines, all turbo-equipped, mated to five and six-speed manual or optional paddle-shift automatic transmission.

All come with fully-automatic electric roof, alloy wheels, ‘infotainment system’ including single-disc CD player, seat-mounted head and thorax airbags as standard. Prices start at £24,405 for the 1.8t Linear and reach £29,905 for the 2.0T 210bhp Aero.

Ensuring you’re safe in the sun means more than high-factor sun cream when you choose a 9-3 Convertible.

It is a winner of the convertible/roadster category of the British Insurance Car Security Awards (BICSA) and also holds the first five-star Euro-NCAP crash safety rating for a soft-top car.

A key feature if you’re planning on having back-seat passengers in the 9-3 is the DynaCage rollover protection, which features discreet-looking pop-up bars in the rear headrests.

These are also standard in the range and would protect occupants by putting a safe distance between brains and terra firma in the event the car overturned while the lid was down.

Standard anti-theft security features on all Saab models in the UK include Category 1 alarms with tilt sensor, remote-control deadlocks with steel door lock shields, electronic immobiliser, steering column or transmission lock and locking wheel nuts.

To paraphrase Saab GB’s managing director, Jonathan Nash, it’s no wonder demand for the Saab 9-3 Convertible is running at record levels.

Our test car is the 2.0t 175bhp model in metallic black, with cream leather trim. First impressions are extremely positive.

Build quality is exemplary, inside and out. Trim and dashboard fitting are superb, as befits the premium price tag. Seats are executive-class comfortable with plenty of scope for adjustment.

The engine, while less powerful than the 2.0T, is a smooth cruiser and unflappable accelerator with a 0-60mph time of 8.5 seconds. For more power, there really isn’t much between them. The less powerful 2.0t engine emits 212g/km compared to 218g/km for the 2.0 T and returns 31.7 combined mpg compared to 31mpg. The 2.0T also has a top speed of 143mph compared to 137mph. Its 0-60mph is 7.7 seconds through a six-speed manual gearbox. Jeremy Bennett

Model: Saab 9-3 Convertible 2.0t Linear
Price (OTR): £25,505 (£27,705 as tested)
Mileage: 2,455
CO2 emissions (g/km): 212
Company car tax bill (2005/6) 40% tax-payer: £245 per month
Insurance group: 15E
Combined mpg: 31.7
Test mpg: 28.6
CAP Monitor residual value: £10,825/43% Expenditure to date: Nil
Typical contract hire rate: £415

  • Figures based on three-years/60,000-miles

    Standard equipment

  • Air conditioning
  • Anti-theft alarm and Category 1 immobiliser
  • Hands-free mobile phone fitting
  • 16-inch 10-spoke alloys
  • Leather steering wheel
  • Saab ‘infotainment’ system with seven speakers
  • CD player
  • Cupholder
  • Hydroblox textile upholstery
  • Traction control
  • Cornering brake control and brake force distribution
  • Cabin air filter
  • Night panel
  • Driver, front passenger airbags
  • Seatbelt pre-tensioners

    Options

  • Saab Park Assist: £300
  • Leather sports seats: £1,050
  • Metallic paint (eight choices): £450

    Total options £1,800
    Standard price (OTR) £25,505
    Price as tested £27,705

    What we expect

    ENDLESS days of sunshine, of course, to take advantage of the super-smooth, expertly engineered, one-touch electrically powered roof which disappears in seconds into part of the boot. It swallows up a bit of space and you have to follow bag-packing instructions to ensure the roof will go down but, despite the compromise, with a little thought it is worth it.

    Our cream interior is going to take a bit of a battering too. It does not lend itself to the rough and tumble of workaday motoring. Prepare for scuffs and have a damp cloth handy. At the moment, the test mpg is a little way below the manufacturer’s figure, dipping below 30mpg, but it’s still some way off bothering Greenpeace, fortunately.

    What the manufacturer says

    ‘THE increasingly open nature of company car policies, many now allowing convertible models, has helped Saab attain its highest-ever market share in the UK – sales of 9-3 are up 109% in fleet, and the Convertible is up by 107%. And, of course, the fact that the 2.0t (175bhp) engine has significantly lower CO2 values than similarly-powered Audi A4 and BMW 3-series models reduces the BiK tax bill significantly.

    Naturally, we are all very pleased with the way the Saab product line-up has grown in the fleet segment and especially pleased by the integration of Saab and Vauxhall into the same fleet team to generate some impressive results.’
    Paul Adler, fleet brand manager, Saab and Vauxhall

  • CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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