Whether talking to loyalists who are angry about the "Saabaru" 9-2X or the Trailblazer-based 9-7X, or critics who think the whole brand should be scrapped given GM's current financial woes — there's plenty of angst surrounding the marque.
Drop the top of a 2006 Saab 9-3 Aero convertible and the controversy ends. Through the ups and downs of the automaker's recent past stood the convertible, first the 900 then the 9-3. While GM slashes prices on virtually every one of its products, the Saab 9-3 convertible keeps winning conquest buyers, capturing the imagination of people who wouldn't otherwise walk into a Saab dealership.
This year Saab marks the 20th anniversary of its ragtop by bestowing the 9-3 Aero convertible with a few minor refreshments and a new, more powerful turbo V6.
Special anniversary edition To mark the occasion, GM is putting out a small number of a special 20th-anniversary-edition 9-3 Aero convertible, distinguished by its limited-edition Electric Blue Metallic paint and commemorative markings. It has a sticker price of $44,615.
A 2006 9-3 Aero with the new V6 is also available, starting at $41,900. The base 9-3 convertible starts at $36,500, but comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder.
Power to the people The star of the show is the Aero's new 2.8-liter turbocharged V6, which delivers 250 horsepower and a maximum of 258 pound-feet of torque to the convertible's front wheels. According to Saab, this little beauty gets you up to 60 in less than 7 seconds (zero to 62 mph is measured at 6.9 seconds) but still delivers up to 28 miles per gallon on the highway. A similar engine is available in the 9-3 sedan and SportCombi wagon, powering what Saab claims are the quickest production cars it has ever made.
The low-end availability of torque shines on the convertible, getting you jumping on any grade, including the gorgeous but trying hills of Santa Barbara, California, the site of our test-drive. Saab claims 90 percent of maximum torque is achieved at 1,500 rpm, a low number for most engines out there made somewhat more impressive given the need for the turbo to kick in virtually lag-free to achieve this mark.
There's still a six-speed manual transmission that comes standard, but our sample was fitted with the optional six-speed automatic, complete with manual sport-shifting mode. With six gears to choose from, the car was always present with power when you needed it as the hill creeps steeper, the curve ends or the merge lane narrows. Performance was predictably smooth and quiet as well.
The complete experience While there isn't much new on the 2006 convertible, handling, appearance, entertainment and comfort all remain just as strong or stronger than in previous models. And considering how much pressure Saab is under to remove cost from its products, that's actually a high compliment.
What makes the Saab such an enjoyable vehicle is the ease of its use. The suspension, consisting of a front MacPherson/back independent four-link, is buttery smooth — maybe even a bit softer than performance drivers might like, but no doubt comforting to the novice.
The chassis is stiff. There's power to spare. The styling is simple and inoffensive. While you could find a faster, more luxurious or better-looking ride, the Saab offers a generous helping in all major categories, making it a smart choice for those looking to break away from the pack.
Perhaps most impressive is the ride in the rear-passenger seats. Typically, automakers toss a couple seats behind the front row as little more than a joke to either lower your insurance rate or create some space for your golf bag. In the Saab, however, these spaces are big enough to be usable seats where passengers can comfortably enjoy the panoramic views of the highway in relative comfort.
Another surprise is the performance and design of the automatic soft top, which feels more like a hardtop when raised. The inside gives the appearance of a normal sedan cabin and dampens out virtually all expected road or car noise — a significant advantage over other soft tops.
Disappearing character? One of the perks of the convertible, which is assembled in Austria, is that it remains a quirky Saab for reasons beyond the ignition on the floor or the grid-style air vents. It's got a wacky cupholder that pops out of the front dash. Its interior design is still decidedly minimalist, as the Swedes often prefer.
But just as we alluded to before, the day is coming where GM will go too far. The little things are already starting to disappear as the GM-supplied stereos, key fobs and the GM badge itself work their way into the mix.
For the time being, however, the Saab 9-3 convertible remains a profit center and a fun one at that. So after 20 years, it remains a unique product unlike any other. And these days, that's high praise.
Is the 2006 Saab 9-3 a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2006 Saab 9-3 and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2006 9-3 featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process All of our reviews are written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
How do people like the 2006 Saab 9-3? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2006 Saab 9-3 and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2006 9-3 4.7 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2006 9-3.
Review Never had a problem with this car. I would buy another in an instant if they still made them!
How can Edmunds help? Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color
What options are available on the 2006 Saab 9-3?
Available Saab 9-3 2006 Submodel Types: Sedan, Convertible, Wagon, Hatchback, Turbo X SportCombi, Viggen
Available Trims: 2.0T, SE, Arc, Linear, Aero, 2.0T SportCombi, Base, Aero SportCombi, Comfort, Linear , Touring, Turbo X SportCombi, Viggen
Exterior Colors: Black, Silver Metallic, Nocturne Blue Metallic, Steel Gray Metallic, Laser Red, Dolphin Grey, Titan Gray Metallic, Polar White, Arctic White, Cosmic Blue Metallic, Sun Green Metallic, Chili Red Metallic, Ice Blue Metallic, Jet Black Metallic, Midnight Blue Mica Metallic, Parchment Silver Metallic, Pepper Green Metallic, Scarabe Green Metallic, Smoke Beige Metallic, Snow Silver Metallic