Twenty years ago, when Saab USA President Bob Sinclair commissioned the first convertible prototype, he had no idea that his personal dream would become the reality of over 240,000 customers. In the past ten years, JFK’s golf clubs have been thrown out of a Saab 900 convertible on Seinfeld and another 900 was crashed into a Calfornia roadside tree in the movie Sideways. To celebrate their series of convertibles, Saab (this time with the Swedish support Sinclair was lacking) will release 400 “20 Years Edition” cars with unique blue paint, seventeen-inch wheels, and two-tone cream and blue leather upholstery. The models will retail for $44,615.
The car that is the basis for the 20 Years Edition, the Saab 9-3, has also been updated for 2006, with the addition of an Aero model that sports a new 250-hp 2.8-liter turbocharged V-6 with variable valve timing. The new engine truly is a diamond in the rough, as the car is still plagued by cheap leather, vague steering, and a clunky shifter. Plenty of torque is readily available from 2000 rpm on up, and the engine stays surprisingly smooth and quiet through the climb up to the redline. The turbocharger is virtually lag-free, and torque steer is less noticeable than has been the case with some 9-3 models we’ve driven in the past. Combined with the car’s handsome Scandinavian styling, the new engine provides an enticing reason to buy this car. It’s a shame, though, that cars like the BMW 330Ci and cabriolets provide a few more reasons at a similar price.