Saab 9-3 Convertible – better in the real world

Thanks Chris for forwarding this one….

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Canadian auto writer John LeBlanc has written up a quick comparison piece looking at three European convertibles:

    Audi A4 convertible
    Saab 9-3 Convertible, and
    Volvo C70

All were 2007 models and here therefore concedes that writing about the Saab in this context seems a little like yesterday’s news. That doesn’t stop the love shining through, however.

As mentioned, it’s a short comparo, but here’s a few of his notes:

Third Place – Volvo C70

As attractive visually as the C70 is, its supermodel looks don’t accurately tell the Volvo’s driving story. Despite employing the most power in the trio – plus the perceived advantage of the stick – the Volvo is slightly slower than the less powerful Saab in the 0-to-100 km/h run at just under 7.5 seconds.

Grip from the optional Pirelli P Zero Rosso rubber may be tenacious. But the Volvo’s lack of suspension travel and soft suspension only amplifies the limp chassis on less-than-perfect roads.

Second place – Audi A4

Maybe the A4’s biggest surprise is its less-than-absorbent suspension. Potholes and dips unruffle the A4 at every opportunity.

Where the Saab absorbs the hits and continues along its merry way, the Audi’s suspension clomps and makes a bunch of un-premium noises in the process.

First Place – Saab 9-3

Although not in the Audi’s rarefied league in build quality, the 9-3 interior’s controls are well defined and simple to use…

…But where the Saab separates itself from this trio is in its predictable road manners. The Saab rolls more in the corners than the Volvo or Audi, while dealing with midcorner bumps with aplomb. The elasticity of the suspension means that where the C70 and Audi skitter over rougher roads, the 9-3 delivers a composed ride.

His 3-point summary:

WHY BUY? Real-world handling prowess, real-world pricing, supportive seats.

It’s long been a contention of mine that Saab deliver one of the best real-world driving packages out there. The combination of performance, utility, comfort and safety is second to none. It may not always get through Car and Driver’s cones in the quickest time, but in the real world – I’ll take the Saab ten times out of ten.

Saab 2007 Convertible

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8 Comments

  1. “It may not always get through Car and Driver’s cones in the quickest time, but in the real world – I’ll take the Saab ten times out of ten.”

    I just went through a long detailed search for a new vehicle and the reliability of the car was certainly a concern of mine but at the end of my search, I was more concerned about the reliability and quality of the car reviews I was reading. I’m either odd or I wasn’t driving the same vehicle the reviewers were driving.

    The car companies need to be more aware of what the public is reading about their vehicles and be more proactive in getting real world information to the them.

  2. Totally agree with the sentiment that in the real world, Saab cars are fantastic. I was watching Clarkson do his review of the 9-5 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDLS57tssQU) and apart from the usual theatrics, the mid-range acceleration is faster than a Porsche 911 Turbo – ideal for overtaking a lorry or (as he says) a BMW. This is the kind of real world power people need. Perhaps some parts of the motoring press are beginning to realise that.

  3. “Better in the real world” Get that on an advert!

    Car ads tend to have billiard table smooth roads with no other traffic. Which for a lot of us is not realistic.

  4. Regarding build quality, the integrity of the Saab’s chassis is far beyond the Audi’s, and the Volvo’s too for that matter. I believe there’s a false perception about Saab’s build quality because of some of the plastic controls and switches they’ve been using recently. It’s like installing cheap, substandard doorknobs and fixtures in a high quality house. Loose, rattling fixtures would create the impression of sub-standard build quality in even the best-built home. On the other hand, a poorly constructed Audi…uh, I mean house, with nice quality fixtures might at first glance appear to be of better construction only because the bits you actually touch and feel create the impression of better quality everywhere. When some of these writers speak of “build-quality” they’re only addressing the most superficial aspects, and I think that is very misleading to the public. Saab’s design and overall construction are far superior to that of their competitors (Audi, BMW, Mercedes). Saab just needs to give the driver a better tactile experience in the cockpit by using materials and switches with the correct feel.

  5. As I have was thinking of a new convertible to replace my 2002 9-3 SE, I have looked and put together a good amount of data.
    With mostly all manufacturers going with steel retraction you will find, after some research, that most of these systems are flawed. from Volvo to Chrysler. Build quality is not up to standars one would expect for a $45- 50k car. At the end of the day, I’ll keep my car. It’s tried and true, still turnes heads and is safe as heck. I will wait for the 2008 convetrible, it looks great.

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