Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
z28luvr01

C&G Drives: 2008 Saab 9-3 Aero Convertible

13 posts in this topic

C&G Drives: 2008 Saab 9-3 Aero Convertible

By z28luvr01

If you've read my report of the New York International Auto Show press days, you know that during my time there I gained quite a respect for the Saab brand, its history, and its fans. Despite my newfound appreciation for all things jet-inspired, I still didn't have enough of a reason to actually head down to a dealer and try one out. The push I needed came last week, wrapped in the latest edition of Bicycling magazine. Nestled between pages 48 and 49 was a coupon for a free cycling jersey upon test-driving any new Saab. I make the trip to Saab of Smithtown, some 13 miles from my house. When I arrive I decide to lay low at first, and I check out two 9-3 sedans in the showroom. I walk up to the counter and present my coupon. Mr. Rodney West, a member of their sales staff, jokes with me for a bit and then offers to fill the coupon out without going through the test drive. I told him that I had no immediate plans to purchase, but for his time I'd drive the car and write up a review for Cheers and Gears for him to present to his customers. He smiled and agreed to the deal. I love the barter system! I ask if he has any Turbo Xs yet. He doesn't but tells me he’ll let me drive the "2nd hottest" Saab, a 9-3 Aero convertible.

For those that don’t know, the 9-3 line got a significant refresh for the 2008 model year. All models received new front and rear fascias and a cleaned up side profile - the rub strips s are body color on the convertible and are non-existent on the sedan and SportCombi. The changes result in a sleek, bold, crisp design that appears fresh despite being in its sixth model year. Truth be told this is one of the best "refreshes" done by an auto manufacturer in recent memory. My silver test subject came with the 17" 10 spoke wheels, dual exhaust outlets, ground effect, and fog lights that all come standard with the Aero package.

After Mr. West affixed the dealer plate I got into the cockpit. It didn't take me long to find a comfortable seating position; all I had to do was slide the seat forward a few inches - standard procedure when you're 5'4". I became immediately impressed with the vault-like construction of the interior. All controls and switchgear felt of very high quality and gave a firm tactile response when used. The seats, covered in two-tone light grey/black leather, offered a great deal of comfort and support.

Now it's go time. Since driving a car like this on a hot August morning with the top up is borderline criminal, I hit the button on the dash to engage open air mode. In less than half-a-minute, the back half of the top folds forward, the tonneau cover lifts up and over the trunk, the top folds and retracts behind the rear seat, the tonneau cover lowers, and all four windows go down - all in that order. With the top safely tucked away, I put the little Swede in Drive and leave the parking lot. Once on the main road I move the pedal down about half way, and after some initial turbo lag, the 2.8L V6 propels the car like, well, a jet. Acceleration is brisk and seemingly effortless, as only a low pitch hum could be heard out of the engine. On a four-lane highway, after getting the car up to the speed of traffic, I push the pedal down hard and it moves from 40 to 65 in...pretty darn fast. Unfortunately, a red light had to ruin my fun, but after coming to a stop I was treated to what is now one of my favorite sounds - turbo blow-off. Throughout the drive, the six speed auto shifted so smoothly you hardly knew it was there; it felt very well matched to the V6 as it always seemed to be in the right gear at the right time. Around turns the 9-3's steering felt very responsive and gave decent feedback. The body felt incredibly solid over bumps with no noticeable cowl shake. On the one last stretch before pulling it back into the dealer lot, I gave the 9-3 one more opportunity to sprint, this time from 30 to 60. Mr. West gently ribbed me, saying “You like doing that, don't you?” With a big grin on my face, I said, "Oh yeah.”

After pulling it back in, I snap a few pictures of it, and Mr. West shows me some more features on the car. After talking for a bit, I thank him for his time and head back home.

All in all I'm pretty impressed with the 9-3 convertible. The refresh for 2008 improves on what was already a handsome car, and in Aero trim it definitely has the go to match the show. Unfortunately, at $46K I won't be driving one home anytime soon. However, a gently used 9-3 2.0T sedan could be the ticket for me when I'm ready to move into my next car, and I will be sure to stop by Saab of Smithtown when that time does come. The staff was extremely courteous, professional, and polite to me even though they knew I wasn't there to buy a car. If you're in the market for a Saab and live in the Long Island area, I'd urge you to pay them a visit. I think you'll enjoy it even if you don't leave with a new car.

Now for some beauty shots:

hpim2751dh1.jpg

hpim2749fn7.jpg

hpim2750vk0.jpg

hpim2752mf9.jpg

hpim2753yp4.jpg

hpim2754lb7.jpg

hpim2755uk0.jpg

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i drove a couple 9-3 sedans recently. one was a 4 popper and one was an aero v6 both with sticks.

people rap on saab but i loved the cars. about the most i can bitch about them was small back seat. i would love to have a 9-3 sportcombi stick as a daily driver. price is the issue with saabs though. if they were selling at VW prices..........instead of BMW prices.....the saabs are more fun than VW products.

i love the cockpit dash of the latest refresh and the shifter was slick. turbo lag was non existent in the four. in the six pot i drove there was some lag. i thought the 6 would be more powerful but i hear that is fixed now. the 4 was plenty powerful actually and the car felt better with the lighter more responsive 4 under the hood.

i really loved the 9-3 but GM never makes it possible for anyone to be in a financial position to justify the purchase or lease of one.

the drivers seat was perfectly shaped and supported, and the dash and shifter etc felt like an extension of yourself. i would call the 9-3 a really good 'personal car'...one that is not really a family car....and its also a good all weather car. a front drive 4 cyl sportcombi i think would be just about perfect.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

fixed

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the 9-3 alot, but I've never gotten used to the weird rear end on the convertible. It's all wonky. Rear wheel opening looks too small for the massive ass.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 9-3 is another car that I think is color sensitive...looks blah in that color, but in white or black, looks great, IMHO...

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Red and Ice Blue really flatter the car as well. The white one I sat in at the NYIAS was very upscale looking, but I don't think I can deal with keeping a white car clean.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that Saab is definitely overlooked and would surprise many people if they bothered to notice. Though I do drive a 9-5, so I'm a bit biased.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The 9-3 is another car that I think is color sensitive...looks blah in that color, but in white or black, looks great, IMHO...

I would agree. Along with the RX-8, the Volvo C-30, and the G6 convertible coupe I think this is one of the most unique, cool and stylish cars built right now.

Chris

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SAAB builds the best interiors in GM. They don't have all the flashy colors or gimmicky features that many other brands have, yet SAABs look and feel really niiiiiiiiice. The 9-3 is the perfect example of this: a really nice, high-quality interior that is really just a bunch of matte grey plastic with trim pieces and leather. But the plastic is high quality, the switchgear is top notch, and because of the actual DESIGN of the interior, it feels really, really upscale. If GM wants to streamline its global operations, they should have the SAAB people be the interior expert designers for all of GM's brands, IMO.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SAAB builds the best interiors in GM. They don't have all the flashy colors or gimmicky features that many other brands have, yet SAABs look and feel really niiiiiiiiice. The 9-3 is the perfect example of this: a really nice, high-quality interior that is really just a bunch of matte grey plastic with trim pieces and leather. But the plastic is high quality, the switchgear is top notch, and because of the actual DESIGN of the interior, it feels really, really upscale. If GM wants to streamline its global operations, they should have the SAAB people be the interior expert designers for all of GM's brands, IMO.

SAAB is why I kind of discount cars like Lexus, Acura, and Infinity. There is just something about the "feel" of cars like SAAB (and Audi for that matter) that is head and shoulders above anything from asia.

Chris

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   You have pasted content with formatting.   Remove formatting

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0