I’ve been wanting to see a Saab vs BMW vs Audi road test for some time now.
Finally, we get one. Sort of.
The road test is from iAfrica and it pits the 9-3 Convertible against the BMW C330i and the Audi A4 3.0. Saab’s two litre turbo against the 3 litre sixes from Bavaria. There’s no multiple photos or detailed car-by-car comparos. But there’s a pretty decent write-up about the vehicles and their various strengths and weaknesses.
Click on the link above to read the full article. The best bits are below:
Addendum: Ken makes a good call in comments – they liked the 9-3 Conv this much with the 2.0 litre engine. Imagine if they did the test again in 6 months with the 2.8L V6!!
……………The recently arrived Saab 9-3 2.0TS Aero seems to have almost eliminated ‘scuttle shake’ with only slightest amount discernible and this only by checking the offending minute vibration on the inside rear-view mirror on the windscreen.
To better evaluate the Saab 9-3 Convertible we managed to rustle up two of its most natural rivals, the BMW 330Ci Convertible and Audi A4 3.0 Cabriolet. To the observer there is little to choose between these beautiful, sun-seeking machines with the choice coming down as to whether you fancy the now-ageing Bee-Emm over the classic, understated form of the Audi or the sleek, swooping lines of the Saab………..
……………Naturally sun-seekers will mostly be driving with the hood down especially those luckier ones living in that most wonderful, sunny Gauteng weather – the finest of any city on the globe. To them it should be of interest to know that the Saab soft-top can be raised and latched in 20 seconds, the Bee-Emm’s in 25 and the Audi’s in a more leisurely 30.
Road holding is of a high quality on all three with the Bee-Emm having the edge with the Saab not far behind with its great improvement over its stodgy predecessors in this area. Whatever is said to the contrary, a finely balanced rear-wheel-driven car such as the BMW 330i is better disposed to road holding tuning.
The Audi instead is roped with the extra weight of the front-wheel-drive portion of its all-wheel-drive leading to it being less responsive than both rivals.
The Saab has overcome the negative idiosyncrasies of its front-wheel-drive set-up with a suspension layout that has been extensively upgraded, in particular the addition of ReAxs self-steering rear end on its advanced multilink suspension.
The Saab is somewhat lighter than its two rivals as both house bigger and heavier 3-litre 6-cylinder mills while the Saab uses a much lighter 4-cylinder 2-litre 16V DOHC motor . . . with a turbo. And that offers a wonderful power-to-weight ratio, which in turn assists in attaining better dynamic results. As a matter of interest the Aero is some 30kg lighter than the Bee-Emm with 14kW more power.
One need only check out the fuel consumption figures to see the results. At 9.7 litres per 100km it gains a huge amount over the BMW’s 11.5 and 11.3 of the Audi. It should be remembered that a turbocharger effectively adds the equivalent 50% of cubic capacity and power to an engine while being so much lighter. And when you consider the gains in test performance terms they are particularly pleasing. The Saab 9-3 Aero comes out tops. And as neither the Bee-Emm nor the Audi open-tops has the latest-generation engines under their bonnets they will continue to play second fiddle to the quick Swede.
The best way to compare performance is over the standing quarter mile where the Aero’s elapsed time of 16.1 seconds and top speed of 147km/h make it a sure challenge to the evergreen 330i’s 16.3 and same exit speed.
But where the Saab scores well over its rivals here is its EuroNCAP 5-star safety certification gained in June 2004. Its DynaCage rollover system with heavily reinforced windscreen and active pop-up bars that assist interaction with airbags, belts and other features is a big plus factor.