Fleet News

Saab 9-3 Convertible 2.0t Linear

Review

IT is with some sadness that I have raised the roof for the last time on our long-term Saab convertible.

The car has been a welcome addition to our test fleet since its arrival at the beginning of summer – and that’s not just down to it being a great-looking soft top.

It has proved a solid all-round performer during the 7,000 or so miles we’ve covered in it since its arrival.

On that day back in the early summer, initial reaction to the car was favourable – and no major problems have arisen since to blight that opinion.

There have been a couple of niggles, such as a strange noise coming from the boot while cornering, which we still haven’t got to the bottom of.

And the cream-coloured roof lining is showing slight wear after numerous retractions into the boot, but nothing to detract from the overall enjoyment of the car.

I was talking to the sales director of a company recently about the role a salespersons’ car can play in making or breaking a deal.

He said he was surprised at losing a major contract a few years back. Then during a debriefing with the potential customer’s bosses, he learned that he was deemed to be driving a ‘flashy’ car so ‘obviously charges too much for the company’s products’.

But there should be no such problems with the Saab. It’s a classy and understated soft-top rather than an aggressive, in-your-face screamer.

But you can enjoy a bit of smugness with the Saab.

Operating the electric roof is a breeze: simply press a button, let the electric system work its magic and 20 seconds later you’re ready for open-top motoring. Very cool.

But such a luxury does come at a price – mainly a smaller boot space, even with the roof up. It is a concern raised by previous road tester Jeremy Bennett and I have to agree, having used the car to transport an adult and two children to an airport where they were flying off for a wedding on the Isle of Man.

Thankfully, they managed to squeeze their luggage into two holdalls which could be shoehorned into the boot space available.

If they hadn’t heeded my warnings and used suitcases instead, then potentially there could have been a problem.

Although the UK ‘ragtop’ market is booming, I’ve found some people are still nervous about how a convertible may perform in the event of an accident, despite massive advancements in technology over recent years to make the cars safer.

The 9-3 gets what’s called a DynaCage rollover protection, which boasts hidden pop-up bars in the rear headrests which are activated, along with seat belt pre-tensioners, when sensors detect a risk of rolling over and also in severe impacts in the front or side.

Awarding it five stars, car safety experts at Euro NCAP, which carries out independent crash tests on cars, said of the 9-3 convertible: ‘This car has clearly been designed to keep its occupants as safe as possible.’ Finally, fuel economy – we didn’t quite manage to achieve the manufacturer’s quoted combined fuel economy but we weren’t far off so we’re not too disappointed.

We will miss this convertible….but it just wouldn’t have been the same on a cold winter’s day in November.

Model: Saab 9-3 Convertible 2.0t Linear
Price (OTR): £25,505 (£27,505 as tested)
Final mileage: 8,400
CO2 emissions (g/km): 212
Company car tax bill (2005/6): 40% tax-payer £245 a month
Insurance group: 15E
Combined mpg: 31.7
Test mpg: 30.8
CAP Monitor residual value: £10,675/41%
Total expenditure: Nil
Typical contract hire rate: £427
Figures based on three years/60,000 miles

What the team thought

The Saab impressed beyond expectations in a number of respects, in particular its performance, appearance, road handling and the super smooth roof function, providing the Swedish carmaker with the perfect offering for the increasingly soft-top-hungry UK motorist. Where it could frustrate is in luggage capacity in the boot, where a significant amount of space is taken up by the roof.
Jeremy Bennett

Sitting in a traffic jam on one of the few sunny days of our English summer wouldn’t normally be a pleasure. But with the Saab’s top down on my way to the Norfolk seaside, it didn’t bother me a jot that it took two hours to get there, two hours back, for only half an hour on the beach. After all, you can sit in complete comfort, lapping up the sunshine with your favourite music on the wonderful sound system – and even better, there’s no annoying sand to get into everything.
Sandie Hurford

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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