Saab automobiles have always been designed for people who want to stand apart from the crowd. The small but loyal customer base was no doubt encouraged to learn Saab will carry on under new ownership. In February, GM sold the brand to a Dutch company, Spkyer Motors, which has confirmed a redesigned 9-3 model is in the pipeline. Our tester this week, a Saab 9-3 convertible from Kelly Saab, is a good example of engineering refinement found in the products of one of the world's most innovative car companies.
DRIVING IMPRESSIONS: Our 9-3 convertible was powered by Saab's slick 2.0-liter turbo engine, which spools up quickly under hard acceleration. On a short test drive on downtown Chattanooga streets, the Saab 9-3 soaked up potholes and uneven pavement. Retracting the ragtop is a one-touch job, and watching the power equipment fold and hide the roof is a show in itself. The 9-3's body has a carved-from-one-piece rigidity that rids it of squeaks and rattles, a common bugaboo in convertibles. The smallish back seat is a compromise to the fold-away top.
STYLING: The Saab 9-3 convertible has the prominent nose and flat hood line that are signatures of the brand. With its top down, the car's profile is clean and compact, with unbroken horizontal lines pulling everything together. Interior fit and finish are first rate. The stitching on the parchment colored leather interior is flawless. The tester's Snow Silver Metallic paint is a perfect choice for this car, projecting its cool, confident personae.
BOTTOM LINE: For some people, driving is a visceral experience. For them, the journey is just as important as the destination. The Saab 9-3 ragtop is a real driver's car, with those near-luxury touches that make "getting there" at least half the fun.
TEST MODEL: 2010 Saab 9-3 convertible.
ENGINE: 2.0 liter, turbo.
COLOR: Snow Silver Metallic.
TRANSMISSION: six-speed automatic.
FUEL ECONOMY: 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway.
BASE PRICE: $39,900.
PRICE AS TESTED: $44,955.