THE SUNSHINE usually sees the price of convertibles soar, along with the temperatures. However, according to British Car Auctions (BCA), prices on soft tops have remained cool, despite record temperatures and the driest spring in years. It means anyone thinking of buying a convertible could still get a great deal.

For less than £5,000 in recent weeks, buyers have driven away some fantastic convertibles at BCA sales, such as the Ford StreetKa Luxury, BMW Z3, Alfa Romeo Spider, Mazda MX5, Volvo C70 and Mini Cooper. Stretch to £10,000 and Porsche Boxster, Audi TT, Lotus Elise, VW Beetle and Mercedes SLK models become affordable. These good values won’t be around forever, so now could be the time to buy that dream convertible.

However, if buying second hand isn’t your thing then you could do a lot worse than checking out the latest 9-3 Convertible from Saab. The car reflects Saab’s leading role in the premium convertible segment and is the product of more than 25 years’ experience in designing four-seater, four season soft tops that are as practical as they are stylish.

The 9-3 2.0T Aero convertible I had on test looked stunning in white with its contrasting black hood. Well-balanced proportions and a purposeful stance endow the car with a strong, dynamic character that, roof up or down, echoes its fun-to-drive appeal. The interior provides accommodation of four adults and shares the cockpit feel and driver-focused themes of the Saloon and SportWagon.

The 210bhp turbo powertrain crammed into the two door, auto model, offers excellent refinement and driveability. Even with an auto ‘box the Saab’s traditional strengths of high torque for strong, mid-range pulling power are present. This makes for swift and safe overtaking. That said, the powerful lump doesn’t deliver cheek rippling acceleration from a standing start. Far from it. It does, however, provide a level of responsive performance in keeping with the chassis’ excellent dynamics.

The impressive looks of the latest Saab 9-3 Convertible radiate power, dynamic performance and great strength; all elegantly packaged with a Scandinavian design flair that ensures the lines are clean and flowing, but never cold or clinical. It is an open top car that looks like a unique model in its own right, free from any awkward styling compromises. In fact the car looks just as good, top up or top down – effortlessly exchanging the looks of a coupé for those more akin to a roadster. The automatic soft-top operates entirely at the push of a single button and deploys fully in just 20 seconds. Handily, in the event of a sudden shower, it can be raised while on the move at speeds up to 18 mph.

Inside, the driver-focused cabin features a main instrument panel that gently arcs round the driver. The controls are all logically grouped; those most frequently used being nearest to hand and closest to the driver’s natural field of vision. The short gearshift lever is just a hand span away, while the main dials are recessed in traditional Saab fashion. They are white on black and softly illuminated in green – a very easy-on-the eye colour choice for night driving.

A particularly neat innovation is the ‘disguised’ handbrake, which is elegantly integrated in the edging trim of the centre console. It looks good, but feels slightly fragile. It probably isn’t – it’s just the plastic creaks a bit when you grip it. But high quality materials, including the use of Hydroblox, the first water repellent seat upholstery to be fitted to a convertible, make up for it.  A polyester membrane lines the underside of the textile seat covering in order to prevent water penetration. This is a particularly useful feature for a convertible if you are caught in a shower of rain.

Saab has a reputation for comfortable seats and the flagship 9-3 Convertible doesn’t disappoint. The well-shaped front seats have been specially designed for the Convertible. They provide easy entry/exit for rear seat passengers by simply lifting a lever on the outboard corner of the back-rest, which then folds down, allowing the entire seat to be easily pushed forward. The movement is spring-loaded and requires only a light pressure to move the seat.

Safety-wise, the 9-3 Convertible has achieved a maximum five star rating. In addition to a full complement of occupant safety systems, Saab has installed pop-up rear roll bars, which are recessed behind the rear head restraints. They are released by a small pyrotechnic charge when the car’s electronic ‘brain’ detects the onset of a rollover. It is programmed to have the bars deployed and locked in position by the time the car is at 90 degrees to the ground. Just as important, all four seat-belt pre-tensioners are activated at the same time, to firmly locate any belted occupants in their seats. Reassuring, or what?

So, if you want to shop around for a safe, comfortable, stylish, open top motor – and you have the cash to splash on a new car – then a Saab showroom wouldn’t be a bad place to start looking.



  •  Good looking
  • Comfortable
  • Stylish
  • Tame acceleration X
  • Expensive X



  • Max speed: 140 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 9.5 seconds (auto)
  • Combined mpg: 30.4 (auto)
  • Engine: 1998 cc, 4 cylinder, turbo petrol
  • Max. power (bhp): 210 at 5300 rpm
  • Max. torque (lb/ft): 220 at 2500-4000 rpm
  • CO2: 214 g/km (auto)
  • Price: £33,570 On the road
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