2000 SAAB 9-3 SE Convertible 2.0 turbo from North America
Very satisfying overall. I'd never pay for a new one though
A rear passenger-side window stopped going up.
A few trim pieces - both interior and exterior had to be replaced.
Climate control display does not always display fully.
The cruise control does not operate.
This Saab drop top is a comfortable all-rounder with more than adequate power and well-sorted handling if you accept that it is not a sports car.
If you want a refined, but affordable 4-seat convertible with a manual transmission, the list gets pretty short, and I feel confident this was the best choice from that list.
Why not the BMW? It was my 1st choice for a while, but the Saab won through practicality. Compared to a similar year BMW, the Saab won the day with a glass rear window, In-dash CD player (the BMW just had a changer in the trunk) a larger rear seat, and more power than the 325i models that were much more in abundance on the market than the 328i. I was also interested in owning a turbo engine for the first time.
Yes there is turbo lag, but I've adapted my driving style accordingly so it really isn't a problem. I still have plenty of power to enjoy.
The main disappointment with the engine is that it really isn't a revver. There is not much point in pushing it past 5500. Things get a bit harsh and party seems over at that point anyway. Granted, the turbo really makes such revving unnecessary, but coming from the rev-happy MX-5, it took a little getting used to. Then again, so did actually having some torque.
I am also aware of the car's lack of rigidity at times. On the whole, I drive this car in a much more relaxed manner than the Miata. No more trying to break free on corners or sequential redline shifts. I'm acting my age now, and the Saab accommodates with a plenty of push for the patient and a whole assortment of little luxury car niceties without trying to resemble mission control in the dash.
One exception is the climate control. Despite great initial animosity, me and it have eventually come to terms, rather than blows. Still I'm glad it’s a convertible so I don't have to use it much. But really, a couple of knobs would have made thing a lot easier.
I like that fact that I prefer this model to the more recently designed version. While I admire the new model's taillights and grille treatment, I don't like the roof deck shut lines and I think the new IP is awful. It’s also stupid expensive. At $44K, so was mine when it was new. As nice as it is, it was never worth that much.
Designed prior to GM's influence, this car has plenty of Saab character which grows on you over time. The key on the console, for instance, turns out to be a really good idea. Easy to find, no keys dangling on your right knee, I don't know why the others haven't copied this idea.
The oval-faced dash has a bit of old-world charm compared to tech-happy faux-metal finished IPs of today's cars. And I love the design of Saab's vents. In addition to their elegant directional control, their vertical shape causes the air to hit your torso more evenly for increased comfort. Another thing they lost with the new design.
The big issue is reliability, particularly given its six years of age. Seven months after purchase, I spent over $2000 on a new A/C compressor, fix a stuck rear window, and have a few regular maintenance items taken care of. My purchase price was reasonably low so I'll accept that one repair just so long as it doesn't become a regular occurrence.
People think I bought a fancy car, but I could not have bought a decent new Civic for the same money. So really it is an issue of risk-taking rather than extravagance. Time will tell on whether the risk was worth it.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 2nd May, 2006
27th May 2006, 02:21
Glad to read your review. I am about to purchase a 9-3 LE 3 door, very nice machine, but it has 110000km on the clock - it's a gamble, I'm hoping I won't be dipping into my pocket for many unseen repair issues. Do you think it sounds like a fair buy at $17K AUD?
14th Aug 2007, 21:26
To the original reviewer's opinion that this car was designed w/o any GM influence, that is not true as this generation of 900/9-3 uses the platform from the Opel/Vauxhall Vectra and Calibra.
23rd Aug 2007, 20:15
I've owned a 2000 SAAB 93 SE convertible for about 2 years, and it has not given me any major problems, just minor ones due to the car being bought used at 56000 miles.
It now has 73,000 miles, and the problems that are occurring now are; my convertible T top does not work, the antenna is not working, and the front speaker is busted, which I did not notice until I had already bought the vehicle.
Now I am having problems with the ignition, and also my exhaust needed to be fixed just recently, which was 500.00.
Other than that, I agree with everyone else about the speed, and it being a good 2nd car. It's also fun in the spring and summer.