Convertible or Station Wagon: Two Good Saabs - The Mommy Insider

Convertible or Station Wagon: Two Good Saabs

by Alicia in Transportation

2 Flares 2 Flares ×

No, I don’t get to test all of these great cars, and SUV’s myself! Bummer. But I know someone who does and he has provided The Mommy Insider with some great ‘parent’ based reviews. Enjoy!

By The Car Family


The Saab SportCombi and convertible
are both safe bets.
They don’t throw much new your way this year and
they don’t scrimp on the safety features either. In other words if
you like Saabs you are going to like the new models. If you don’t
like Saabs you don’t what you are missing in terms of solid transportation
and prideful production standards. We have owned Saabs in the past and
found them ideal in every way from exceptional fuel mileage to a ready
to play attitude. What we didn’t like about them was the expensive
maintenance costs for parts.

Outside of a few new colors
the on the SportCombi 4-dr wagon and convertible there are few changes.
You can order the base model and get a turbocharged, 210-hp 4-cylinder
engine or upgrade to the Aero with a
250-hp V6. You can get an automatic
or stick shift and we recommend the latter if you want any performance.
The smooth shifted automatic smothers the performance of the base engine.

Standard safety features include
ABS and traction, antiskid control, front side airbags and curtain side
airbags, active head restraints, four-wheel disc brakes with electronic
brake force distribution and a solid chassis. The convertible has front
side airbags. The convertible also has a pop up rollover bar. The past
crash testing has revealed outstanding scores.

Mom’s view: I love the convertible.
I have never had so many people make positive comments about a vehicle.
Perhaps it was the light blue color with a tan top, but every woman
gave this Saab the “I wish I owned one” look. It is different and
it is cute and doesn’t suffer the same old look syndrome. This is
the one to own.

The SportCombi just didn’t
have enough room, but it was a great handling wagon with just enough
poke to make it playful. The front wheel drive does not have any torque
steer with the automatic, but you have to prod the slush box to convince
it you’re serious about acceleration. It is an excellent transmission
for the mild mannered.  Since General Motors owns Saab it shares
a few chassis components with the Chevrolet Malibu, Pontiac G6, and
Saturn Aura.

The power fabric top works
well and has a nice large rear window to help with the continual problem
that all convertibles have and that is impeded vision to the side due
to the large C pillars. To this end the Saab could have larger rear
view mirrors.  The Saab has a reported 0.28 coefficient of drag
which is exceptional and helps with fuel mileage in the 25 mpg on premium

You can get five people into
the wagon, but four is all that the convertible is willing to hold and
those in the rear seat aren’t going to have much toe room. The seats
on the wagon fold down with a 60/40-split and you get a level storage
area when you do.

The interior is dark, but highly
user friendly. It curves around the driver and has such unique features
as a night panel button that turns off all the interior dash lights
except the important ones to reduce eyestrain when traveling at night.
The gauges are green and are easy to read. The ignition key is in the
center console area and is typical Saab meaning that it is difficult
to use, but they have a safety reason for placing it there. (It won’t
hit your knee in an accident as dash and steering column units might.)
As well, a cupholder that folds out of the dash is still a unique feature,
but at least this one is useful, but terribly fragile. Leather seats
are standard in the convertible, although we much prefer cloth in open
car tops due to the issue of sun damage to the cowhides and the pain
of sitting down on sun burnt leather while wearing shorts. I have learned
over the years to always fold the front seats forward when leaving any
convertible on a sunny day to avoid this searing experience.

Driving wise the Saab convertible
is as solid as a Porsche and much more reliable.
The top is well insulated
and the cornering and stopping are first rate. The SportCombi is a bit
more stable and the ride is quieter due to the solid roof. Both models
have the adequate 210-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder
engine that provides 221 pounds-feet of torque. The optional engine
features a 250-hp, turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6 that produces 258 pounds-feet
of torque. I prefer the four cylinder, but if you like performance the
V-6 is a must drive. The turning circle is a bit large. Handling wise
the Saabs can easily stay with the competition from Audi and BWM, but
alas, it does not have the nice steering feel or brake feel of those

The convertible Saab used what
they call a “Ring of Steel” to reinforce the chassis and body to
compensate for the lack of a hard top. The result is a very stiff chassis,
but more importantly it offers additional safety. Even the seat belts
are attached to the seat frames for more crash worthiness. You can also
order the optional OnStar that I recommend highly to all women drivers
as it provides access to help at all times.

The SportCombi is not supposed to be called a station wagon, but a
hatchback. You might want to note that the old version of the 9-3 produced
until 2002 still generates new car money because of the hatch back design
and its great utility, performance, and fuel mileage. The SportCombi
gets LED-lit tail lamps and an integrated roof spoiler. As in the convertible
there is some turbo lag and this is magnified with the automatic transmission.
Nevertheless this is a great car on the highway. There is a modicum
of noise, but you feel like you are in total control at all times. If
you can wait a split second for the turbo to come online you will never
need to use the manual shifting features. The SportCombi can easily
do what a SUV can without the inherit ant dangers of these high riding

Overall these are two great
cars with a rare combination of practically, safety, exclusivity, and
a fun to drive factor. Make mine the convertible anniversary blue with
a tan top and let the sun shine.

College going male’s view: Nice looking, easy to park, and unique
are what I liked about the Saab convertible. The rear seat room in both
is limited with a tall floor hump taking up legroom. I still don’t
know why this is occurring in a front wheel drive vehicle. The only
thing that would prevent me from owning one is a lack of dealerships
and poor resale. However, I have noticed that most Saab owners don’t
sell them anyway, and the lease rates are so good that it is almost
impossible to ignore.

The suspension has struts,
coil springs, and an anti-roll bar in front with a multilink set up
in back aided by coils and an anti-roll bar, too. Saab claims that its
convertible is three times stiffer than the previous model and it feels
that way. Nothing seems to shake it and the only a slight quiver through
the steering wheel lets you know you have hit a significant pot hole
or other road irregularity.

The stereo isn’t very good
in either car and reception is only adequate. The head unit is difficult
to work in a hurry and the fact that both AM and FM stations can be
co-mingled makes it even more confusing. You get a CD player and an
auxiliary audio input as well as a very good information center to keep
track of issues such as miles to empty. If you opt for the optional
stereo and information units you can get an in dash six disc CD changer
and a GPS nit with a good sized 6.5 inch monitor. The Bose stereo is
significantly better than the base model.

The side view mirrors on the
convertible are too small for a vehicle with such large C pillars and
the car always seems to be a tad slow to respond to accelerator inputs.
However, the automatic soft top is really good. It looks great up or
down and the road noise is far less than would be expected. Of note
is the fact that the Saab is actually longer than the Toyota Solara
and most other convertibles in the class giving the 9-3 a smooth highway
ride.  Unfortunately, rear seat room is still quite limited. The
trunk has about 12 cubic feet of room, but the lowered top takes up
about 4 cubic feet when it is lowered. 

Even when driving at speed
the wind isn’t that much of a problem and all the while you are averaging
over 25 mpg on the highway using the cruise control. Options are a better
stereo for $900, OnStar for $700 plus a monthly fee, and not much else
short of the larger engine package. The $42,000 list price is probably
too high considering the competition, but Saab is famous for the best
lease deals in the business and I would recommend that.   

I can only conclude that the Saab convertible and station wagon are
quality vehicles, albeit on the pricey side, with plenty to offer those
that are looking for quality and fun in a safe vehicle. And, if you
decide on the 9-3 Aero with its V6 turbocharged engine you are going
to have a very fast vehicle indeed. Look for 0 to 60 mpg times in the
low six-second range.  As a single guy I can’t say enough about
the babe magnet the Saab convertible is so be warned.

Working woman’s view:
I love Saabs and these two only added luster
to that belief. They are invigorating to drive even with an automatic
transmission, get nearly 25 mpg on the highway on premium, and have
a taut suspension that is very reassuring. I won’t consider the sportier
and faster and more expensive Aero. One factor I felt good about was
that Saab had cured the vehicles of the tremendous torque steer that
had infected them for several years, especially the Aero version.

Driving the Saab you are immediately
greeted with a feeling that someone took his or her time putting this
vehicle together. Except for the stalks for the turn signals and windshield
wipers everything else had a hefty feel. The Saab feels much more sporty
than the Volvo and more eager to please. The seats are very supportive
and a lever enables you to move them forward easily in the convertible
for access to the rear seats. The steering wheel tilts and telescopes,
but not enough in my case. I like to sit high in a car and the steering
wheel just doesn’t move far enough for me to see the gauges and still
feel comfortable. I think tall people will have to make some compromises.

Both Saabs have very large
glove boxes, but the center consoles are too small due to the placement
of the ignition key. There is another problem with the Saabs that I
have personally observed in my Saab ownership and that is the high cost
of routine maintenance. Although I truly felt that my Saab was the most
versatile and fuel frugal vehicle available, every time I took it to
the dealer I was shocked at the price charged. If you want to buy a
Saab, and everyone should at least test drive one, check out the prices
at the dealership for maintenance and ask about specials.


Family conference: Two good
Saabs, in fact, probably the best ones from the standpoint of ride quality,
but they still must compete in a field dominated by all wheel and rear
wheel drive vehicles that offer better handling. Despite this we highly
recommend the Saab convertible as a must drive and the SportCombi as
a great value if you can get the price point down a bit. We truly enjoyed
these vehicles and only wish that more people could take the time to
drive them. For a list of all vehicle websites go the and click on business.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a commission when you buy something. If you'd like to know more about the links featured in my posts, how I do and choose reviews, or choose advertisers, check out The Mommy Insider editorial policy.

Previous post:

Next post: