2001 SAAB 9-3 Aero Convertible 2.0 High Output Turbo from Australia and New Zealand


Aero. Dynamic.


5th bow roof microswitch failed.

Serpentine belt snapped (incorrectly fitted by garage; fixed free of charge).

Door speakers vibrate.

General Comments:

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

2001 SAAB 9-3 SE Convertible 2.0 litre petrol from South Africa


Fabulous. The best car I've ever had or am likely to have


Head gasket blew shortly after purchase; said to be stretched head bolts.

Wear on convertible top caused when the top is down, which it is most of the time.

General Comments:

This red convertible is one serious looker and long distance cruiser, with plenty of power when required.

With our climate we can use it all year round. The heater is excellent for those few cold days we get, and we generally only use it at weekends if it's dry.

The only negative is the scuttle shake on really bad roads. Better since we swopped the 17 inch wheels with low profile tyres for a set of 16 inch wheels.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 30th April, 2013

2001 SAAB 9-3 SE 2.2 TiD turbo diesel from UK and Ireland


Fast, comfortable, reliable, boring!


A few pixels on the dash display have died.

Intercooler pipe split and needed repair. £75 later and cut knuckles, the pipe was on!

General Comments:

It's a bit boring. Mainly because it's hard to fault.

It's fast, it's got massive responsive brakes.

It feels sturdy and chunky.

It's big, with lots of room.

It's got deeper seats, which are great for long legs.

Heated seats make you feel like you've wet yourself.

Cruise control is a god send.

Handling is brilliant! It's not as hard riding as other cars I've had, but I've stuffed it into corners and it doesn't slide or anything. Very impressive. Even the handling in the rain is great!

This car is hard to fault; I think that's why it's a bit boring! I could moan and say that the 2.2 diesel is a bit noisy on tickover, or it's a bit tractor sounding, but I would be nit picking to be honest. Again, that's why it's a bit boring, it's a safe, fast, semi economical car. I'd be happy driving to the moon and back.

Sadly I'm one of those daft people that always wants to fix things, which is why this is a bit... well... boring ;-)

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd July, 2012

2nd Jul 2012, 22:20

Better to have a boring car than one that tries to murder you by stalling in traffic, catching ablaze, filling your lungs, or crashing due to no brakes.

You should appreciate "boring" cars a bit more.

3rd Jul 2012, 23:20

Your review was helpful. I like 9-3's, and it's nice to know yours has been a good car. I will be less wary of Saab next time I'm on the market for a used car (IF they resume making parts for them again; I'm in the industry, and right now replacement parts have been discontinued. Unless our dealership can find cheap used parts, we're total lossing the Saabs coming in for wreck repair. It's a shame, because some of them would NOT be total losses if we could get parts).