Saab 9-3 Convertible Aero test from NZ

The Convertible is one of Saab’s icon cars. There’s a certain freedom that comes with letting the top down and hitting the open road. That’s a given for all convertibles. What sits the Saab Convertible at the front of the pack is the versatility it provides as well as the value for money. They ain’t cheap, but they’re cheaper than the opposition, as well as better looking, more driveable and more accommodating.

Saab Aero Vert NZ.jpg

With the inevitable evolution of technology, the role of the convertible is changing in the mind of the media. Once just open cruisers with an eye for fun, they’re now being appraised using the same language as performance cars. Is this right? Is this fair?

I’d tend to think “no” to both of those questions. If a customer is genuinely looking for a performance car they’ll choose one with a roof – nine times out of ten at least.

So why would Saab bring the twin-scroll V6 turbo into the convertible’s engine lineup? For performance, or for even more effortless cruising? I’d imagine it was the latter, but motoring journos will think what they’re trained to think…..

This test is from XtraMSN in New Zealand.

If there’s a car less suited to an excess of power being shoved through the front wheels than the 9-3 convertible, I haven’t driven it lately. The latest-generation stability control system (called ESP Plus and exclusive to the Aero version) keeps things from getting serious; but the massive output of the V6 turbo still threatens to overwhelm the chassis of the convertible in tight corners, yanking the steering wheel left-and-right and generally encouraging fairly approximate cornering lines.

Like I said, if you want a car to thrash around the corners, get one with a roof. If you want a fun-in-the-sun cruiser, then the convertible’s your car….and thankfully, the review has an open enough mind to agree.

It’s fun for a while, but the wayward front end and furious scuttle-shake seems a bit feral for something that’s really supposed to be a sexy cruiser.

Which is a role the 9-3 excels at.

I’ve driven the V6 Aero in sedan form and the engine truly is an effortless powerplant and a joy to drive. I couldn’t imagine anything better for a cruise-mobile. It’s all about how you drive it and I’ve always ben convinced that Saab have a great formula for enjoyable, everyday driving.

The reviewer sees the interior largely in the same light as I do – intuitive, functional and still with some of the best seats on the market. They opine that the materials feel a bit cheap for the price and whilst I agree that the dash surface could be a bit better, I tend to think it’s a great place to hang out.

….it was definitely a car that drew a crowd wherever it was parked. That’s really saying something for a model that’s been around for three years.

As with the exterior styling, the cabin architecture has been carried over from the previous 9-3 range. The quality of materials and creaky build don’t live up to the near-$100k price tag, but the aircraft-inspired design has enduring appeal. The switchgear is intuitive and the high-back seats are very comfortable even for long-haul driving.

One thing we do agree on is those metallic-finish inserts on the steering wheel. Yucch.

The reviewer settles on either the Linear or Vector as his models of choice. Despite my questioning of his methods above, I can’t disagree too much. I’d probably go for a Vector myself if I was in the market. Enough poke to have some fun and a great cruiser the rest of the time – plus $10,000 in change.

I wouldn’t begrudge anyone an Aero though. One hell of a ride.

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