2006 Saab 9-3 2.0T Convertible review: 2006 Saab 9-3 2.0T Convertible

The keypad, which so taunted us while we attempted to enter navigation destinations, didn't do anything at all in our test car. It seems to be a legacy from European models, which have a factory Bluetooth option. American models don't get the Bluetooth option, just a useless keypad.

A pod on the dashboard displays information from the stereo and other car data.

The stereo is another story. Our test car came with a 300-watt, 10-speaker stereo and an in-dash six-CD changer, both of which are part of the Premium Option Package. The sound quality is excellent, and we were more than happy with the bass--it was strong enough at low volume and remained clean well above normal listening levels. Changing between the CD player, the radio, and the auxiliary device was a bit confusing at first but was easy once we got the hang of it. One thing we liked on the radio was the ability, with a single touch of a button, to temporarily assign the strongest six signals in the area to presets--very nice when traveling long distances. The lack of MP3 CD support on the six-disc in-dash changer was the biggest flaw on an otherwise fine system. Although it didn't have true iPod integration, there is an auxiliary jack located in the console. The stereo also had a feature that limited its volume when the car is first started--a nice feature if the last person to use the car had AC/DC maxed out.

The 2006 Saab 9-3 2.0T Convertible is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 210 horsepower at 5,500rpm. On the freeway, the engine is quite peppy, with more than enough power to get up to speed on an on-ramp or accelerate quickly when needed. Impressed by the freeway performance, we were nearly caught out badly when pulling out of a side street into traffic. The acceleration up to about 15mph is abysmal, since there is almost no power until the engine exceeds 2,000rpm. We tried accelerating with the optional Sentronic automatic transmission in both drive and with first gear manually selected, and there was no difference in performance. Unlike most automatic transmissions with a manual mode, this one does not automatically upshift when it redlines. Performance drivers may also not like the push for upshift pull for downshift layout.

Although it's fun to watch the turbo gauge, the car might deliver all-around better performance with a six-cylinder engine.

The handling seemed fairly decent if not pushed too hard, although some of our staff noticed a bit of understeer, which is to be expected in a front-wheel-drive car originating from snowy climes. On the freeway, the car behaved well, while ride comfort on rough pavement was also good. On heavy acceleration, the front-wheel-drive 9-3 pulled gently to the right as it exhibited a small amount of torque steer--not nearly as bad as a Nissan Maxima . On wet roads, the Saab 9-3 felt very stable and secure, and we're sure it'd feel the same in the snow. Fuel economy was a bit disappointing. During our test, where we spent a majority of the time on highways, we observed 22.4mpg. Although that number falls well within the EPA-tested 19mpg in the city and 27mpg on the highway, the six-cylinder Ford Fusion gets EPA numbers of 21mpg (city) and 29mpg (highway), which suggests the Saab might perform better with a nonturbocharged six-cylinder engine.

Like most Saabs, the 2006 Saab 9-3 2.0T Convertible comes with a good variety of safety equipment. Electronic systems include traction control and a stability program, both of which can be turned off if desired. Antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution assist in stopping. The car has daytime running lights (which we couldn't turn off) and a rear fog light to reduce the risk of other drivers not seeing the car in poor light or fog.

Should an accident occur, the car has front and rear crumple zones, as well as seat-belt pretensioners and load limiters. Front-seat passengers get active head restraints, adaptive front air bags, and head/thorax side air bags. For small children, there are child-seat top-tether anchors in the rear. Rollover protection for this convertible is enhanced by the heavily reinforced windscreen frame and the active pop-up bars hidden immediately behind the rear head restraints.

The 2006 Saab 9-3 2.0T Convertible comes with a 4-year/50,000-mile limited warranty, a 10-year corrosion warranty, and no-charge scheduled maintenance for 3 years or 36,000 miles.

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    2006 Saab 9-3 2.0T Convertible

    Part Number: 100610553
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    Quick Specifications See All

    • Trim levels 2.0T
    • Body style convertible
    • Available Engine Gas