2001 SAAB 9-3 Aero Convertible 2.0 High Output Turbo from Australia and New Zealand
5th bow roof microswitch failed.
Serpentine belt snapped (incorrectly fitted by garage; fixed free of charge).
Door speakers vibrate.
I picked up my 9-3 Aero convertible at way below market value, because of the faulty roof switch noted above, and some obvious paint peel/crazing (it had a poor quality respray after being hail damaged in 2010), and still can't believe the bargain I got. Almost full dealer history and a sheaf of invoices for past repairs, indicated a well cared-for car. Despite its low 135000km, I had the sump dropped and the sump and oil pickup strainer cleaned as a precaution against the dreaded B205/B235 engine sludging. Happily, there were virtually no sludge deposits present at all; a tribute to the diligent servicing of the two previous owners.
The Aero comes with excellent heated & electrically controlled leather seats (lifted from the Viggen), traction control, and a very good climate control system. It also unfortunately comes with a crappy GM stereo that you will want to ditch as soon as you can.
This is my tenth Saab turbo, and my first of the GM-era. It drives very well, and mid-range pickup doesn't disappoint. Still, when I first purchased it, I felt it had a bit more to give... so I had the ECU remapped to MapTun stage 1, and now it is properly quick; putting my foot down in second gear feels more like activating a hyperdrive. Here in Australia, V8s rule the road (or at least, their drivers think they do), and there are quite a few V8 boys in and around Perth nursing bruised egos at how my four cylinder 'hairdresser's car' obliterated them quite so comprehensively.
One of the nicer things about a Saab is its quiet class and refinement; they aren't shouty cars like BMWs, or nouvelle riche like Audis. You can park a 9-3 convertible outside the best hotel in town or the local IGA, and it looks at home in either place. The real benefit of this quiet class is that the local morons are less likely to key or steal your Saab.
Body flex is an issue with the 9-3 convertible, and this is something you can either live with or you can't. Western Australia is ultimate convertible country, so I live with it; it's a small price to pay. But rough roads are not fun to drive along.
Expect very good fuel economy (no matter how I drive mine, it never uses more than 7.7 litres per 100km in mixed conditions, according to the display at least), but factor in having to use premium unleaded. Boot space is surprisingly good for a ragtop, and the rear seats are actually usable; again, unusual for a convertible.
In short, this is the perfect car for anyone who wants class, performance, reliability, safety, fun, and plenty of individuality. If you've got a life, this is the car to put it in.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 10th September, 2013