Trunk space drops to 12. Passive rear-wheel steering architecture in the rear suspension design keeps the rear tires dutifully following the front tires in quick lane changes and through rapid transitions when driving quickly on twisting roads. The rake of the windshield and a removable wind-block behind the front seats combine to reduce buffeting. The side profile shows a clearly defined wedge shape with the lower edge of the side windows picking up the slope of the hood and following it through to the high trunk line at the rear. It's tight, crisp and fun to drive.
The sedan offers the best performance and handling, with the Aero at the front of the grid. The longish clutch throw takes some getting used to and the six-speed in the Aero feels a little rubbery, but you'll save yourself more than a thousand dollars and have much more fun. Saab engineers worked hard to eliminate it in this latest-generation 9-3, and it appears they were largely successful. The Arc and Aero are most fun, with their high-output engines. Thankfully, Saab no longer requires the manual transmission be in reverse before the key can be removed. Instead, a smoother, more rounded, monochromatic body panel integrating the bumper houses taillights somewhat reminiscent of earlier Saabs, only now wrapping around to the trailing edge of the rear quarter panel. It's also smooth and quiet, comfortable and nicely trimmed.
Bookmark us and keep checking back for Saab cars 0-60 mph updates, since we constantly upload new 0 to 60 mph and quarter mile statistics. Saab has mastered turbocharger technology so well that most people may not even realize the engine is turbocharged because there is very little turbo lag and there's no boost gauge to give the game away. One area in which the 9-3 excels is its suppression of torque steer, a disconcerting trait afflicting many front-wheel-drive cars where the steering wheel tugs at the driver's hands under hard acceleration or resists corrections in the midst of a corner. Conspicuously absent from those door handles are key holes. Model Lineup The 2005 Saab 9-3 is available as a four-door sedan or two-door convertible. For 2005 the line-up includes a Linear convertible that drops the price of dropping the top. The glovebox is one of the largest we have seen in a long time.
It's located on the center console, but it's design mirrors the grab handle on the passenger side of the console so that it looks as though it is a sculptured design feature. General Motors absorbed Saab a few years back, but it didn't turn out to be the deal with the devil the Saab faithful feared. The 9-3 was completely redesigned and re-engineered for the 2003 model year. Instead one has to rely on the remote key fob. To many drivers this is not a concern, and some say it adds excitement. The 9-3 convertible is a near-luxury drop top that seats four passengers.
It's a perfectly pleasing look. Also standard: Saab's Active Head Restraint system that automatically cradles the head to minimize whiplash in a rear-impact collision. Radio settings are also displayed here. For 2005, all 9-3 models come with no-charge scheduled maintenance and roadside assistance during the warranty period. It manages to remain a Saab yet has no quirks or foibles. In short, these are the best 9-3s Saab has ever produced. A modicum of tugging and some resistance is apparent while accelerating over uneven pavement or out of a tight corner, but it isn't an issue.
It's tight, it handles great, and there's lots of power from the 210-horsepower turbocharged engine on the Arc and Aero models. The available Sport seats are more aggressive and best suited to bodies tending toward the slim end of the scale. Nonetheless they are all well placed for the driver to reach while driving. Rear quarter vision is impeded by the broad expanse of fabric top that occupies the space normally filled by the sedan's much-slimmer C-pillar. In the convertible, Saab has taken a refreshing approach to the headliner, replacing the traditional black fabric with a light tan. But don't worry, if it ceases to function there is a back up key buried in the key fob and a hidden keyhole in the driver's door.
With the top down, it wraps its occupants in the panorama and aromas of the world around and whizzing by , setting a new standard in all respects for the class. Saab fans need not worry, as it's still located down on the center console behind the gearshift between the front seats. The instruments are arrayed in an easy-to-view layout with a big speedometer in a sweeping instrument panel that blends into the center console. And it's quiet, with little road noise or wind noise invading the cabin. Zero to 60 times does not guarantee the accuracy of any of the Saab 0-60 mph times. With the top down and tucked away beneath the solid tonneau cover, the rake of the windshield draws the eye naturally over the passenger area to the tonneau behind the rear-seat head restraints, which tapers into the trunk lid. Torque, too, is more than adequate for those urgent passes on two-lane roads and for getting up to merge speed on highway onramps.
And the all-new convertible followed for 2004. On convertibles, the soft top merges cleanly with the car's lines, retaining all the proper proportions and relationships with windshield, wheel openings and wedge profile. When the top is down, conversing with the person beside you can be done without shouting, even at extra-legal highway speeds. Rear-seat passengers in the two-door convertible do not fare as well as those in the four-door sedan, of course: The convertible gives up nearly 10 inches of hip room and nearly 3 inches of legroom. It looks like a Saab and manages to remain a Saab, yet it's a thoroughly modern car with no quirks or foibles. Outside mirrors were bent at the edges to reduce blind spots. Safety is a keynote feature on Saabs and the 9-3 is loaded with active and passive safety features.