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The Warsaw Voice » Society » September 24, 2008
Saab 9-3 Cabrio 1.9 TTiD Aero
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Practical Topless Swede
September 24, 2008 By Bartosz Grzybiński   
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You are mistaken if you think that open-top cars are the most popular in warm places such as southern Europe. The largest numbers of convertibles in Europe are sold in rainy Britain and chilly Scandinavia.

The Swedish convertible Saab 9-3 is practical and adapted to various needs. Unveiled during the Geneva motor show in the spring of 2003, it underwent a facelift last year.

The 4,647 mm long vehicle looks equally elegant with the top up and down. The front with its characteristic large grille testifies to the brand's aerospace roots.

From the beginning Saab has been using old-school cloth for its drop tops. The Saab 9-3 is one of the few models on the market that still have this feature. The electric multi-layer folding roof effectively protects passengers from adverse weather, even when the temperature drops below minus 35 degrees Celsius.

At the push of a dashboard button, the shapely coupe turns into a stately convertible within 22 seconds, exposing its refined interior and top-quality finish. Four adult passengers can travel in the car in comfort, and the Saab may also come in handy for some special trips.

The dashboard is the same as in the sedan and station wagon. It is easy to read and functional as befits a Scandinavian car. It features the "night panel" function borrowed from the Saab Grippen fighter plane. When driving at night, you can switch off the controls in the driver's cockpit by pushing a single button. Only the speedometer remains illuminated up to 140 kph. If you exceed this speed the whole display lights up. If the onboard computer detects any information that it considers useful for the driver, it immediately displays it. Another original feature, as in all Saabs, is the atypical ignition next to the gear stick.

The test-drive Saab in the Aero sporting version was fitted with a turbocharged Common Rail 1.9l/180 hp diesel engine. This unit, designed by Fiat, works well in the 1,650 kg Saab. Two turbines and a maximum torque of 400 Nm at 1,850-2,750 rpm guarantee sporty performance. The car accelerates from 0 to 100 kph in 9.5 seconds and achieves a top speed of 210 kph. The engine is not only dynamic and flexible but also economical. Average fuel consumption during the test-drive was 8.5l/100 km-not far above the 7.1l/100km declared by the producer.

One drawback of the Saab, especially considering its price tag of more than zl.200,000, is its relatively loud engine. Despite the producer's attempts to reduce the noise level, you can easily tell that it is a diesel, especially when you start the car.

Power is transmitted to the front wheels by a six-speed automatic Sentronic transmission with a mode for manual shifting, either from the steering wheel or by using the gear stick. The 18-inch aluminum wheels make the car comfortable to drive despite its tough, sporty suspension.

The Aero version offers an extensive range of equipment as standard. The best recommendation for the Saab as far as safety is concerned is its five-star rating in NCAP crash tests.

The Saab is an appealing drop top, but also a multifunctional car with a four-seat passenger cabin and a relatively large trunk of 352 liters. If only it weren't so expensive…
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