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Catch a Ride
2004 Saab 9-3 Aero Convertible
By Alain Gayot

In short: A pricey but sexy and functional convertible.

The American-owned Swedish manufacturer of airplanes, trucks and original design automobiles delivers this attractive turbo-charged convertible, assembled in Austria with a German engine and Japanese transmission! With great lines and a reputation for reliability, what’s not to like? For starters, the combination of the small engine and the automatic transmission gives you a sluggish feeling. Still, the cool four-seater packs in 210 hp, so you can get some excitement out of it using the manual mode of the sentronic transmission with the plus and minus shift buttons on the steering wheel.

Now that we worked through that one, how about the price? With a tag approaching fifty grand with the options and still no navigation system, you might be scared off.

At first we thought the ride to be a bit rough, along the lines of a racing car, but we got used to that in the city and on freeways. For general purpose driving, the overall handling was good and the car felt light and agile.

Function and operation of the top is a cinch with no manual levers. You can operate it at a stoplight and, if the light turns green, continue to drive as the operation finishes. Trunk space is okay as far as convertibles go. You can always throw your belongings into the back seat.

Items of convenience to note are a parking assist audible system, an automatic CFC free climate control, a profiler info display, a multi-function electronic key, a one-touch open power windows switch, and a really cool 300-watt 13-speaker sound system.

Since we are spending more and more time in our cars, comfort and ambience have taken on greater importance. We particularly appreciated the strong lumbar support, the four full-size seats and the bright interior colors. Most convertibles are dark and have a cave-like feeling: not this one, as the top’s liner matches the light beige color of the leather seats.

Those of us in warm climates would have a hard time resisting it.

Read a review of the 2008 Saab 9-3 Aero Convertible V6 Turbocharged

Warranty: Three-year/72,000-mile no charge scheduled maintenance; ten-year Perforation Warranty; four-year/50,000 Mile New Vehicle Limited Warranty.

Price as tested: $47,640

Technical Specifications

Performance Data

Engine: 2.0L, 4 cylinder, 16-valve DOHC high-output turbo; 210 hp

Transmission: Five-Speed Sentronic Automatic

Safety: Driver and Front Passenger Airbags, Front Seat, Head and Torso Side Airbags, Automatic Roll-Over Protection, Front and Rear Crumple Zones

Top Speed: 140 mph estimated

Acceleration: 0-60 mph 7.7 sec.

Braking: Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Mechanical Brake Assist

Fuel Economy: 19 city,
28 highway

Handling: Power Assist Rack and Pinion Steering, Four-Link Rear Suspension with Re-Axs, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Cornering Brake Control, High Performance Tires with 17" Alloy Wheels

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Photography: AlphaMedia

(Updated: 07/22/08 SCV)