25th Aug 2008, 08:07

I own a 2003 9-3 Convertible (which is the older design) and the little Saab has been virtually problem free.

It is a delight to drive - plenty of power, very comfortable, and gets excellent gas mileage (28 mpg highway).

It still has relatively low miles (34,000 miles), but hopefully it will remain very reliable for years to come.

Since 1982 I had always owned Volkswagen Convertibles - first when they were called "Rabbits" here in the US and then called "Cabriolets". I always owned the German built models (pre-"Cabrio") and thoroughly enjoyed them.

The VW's didn't have nearly the power of the Saab 9-3 turbo, but still had plenty of pep with the 5 speed transmission. Every one that I owned returned at least 30 mpg, they were relatively comfortable cars, and thanks to the added strength of the "basket type roll bar", displayed little or no cowl shake or chassis flex.

I switched to the Saab 9-3 when I needed a car with an automatic transmission, due to an elbow injury (my VW's were all 5 speeds), and wanted more power than a VW Cabriolet with an automatic transmission would provide. Comparing the 9-3 to a Cabriolet is like comparing apples to oranges however, but I find the Saab much quieter, more comfortable, & more powerful. The Saab does display more cowl shake (but still nothing major) and gets a couple mpg less on the highway. The power top on the Saab is much easier to lower & raise than the VW's manual top, but the VW top is relatively easy for a manual top.

The VW's are terrific little run-abouts, if you can find an older (German) model in good condition. They are fun to drive, handle great, get excellent mpgs, and of course sticker for half the cost of a 9-3 when new.