We sold and serviced this low, low mileage convertible, it is the last year of production and this may be your last chance to own a piece of Saab Heritage. If Tiger Woods's new driver were three times as stiff, he might whack the ball 450 yards. If Mark McGwire's bat had been three times as stiff, he might have hit 90 home runs in a season. If a Saab 9-3 convertible were nearly three times as stiff, it would be our 2011 9-3 convertible a whole lot nicer and better-behaved machine than any previous Saab convertible. Saab, which was your basic Swedish hatchback car company until recently, abandoned its hatchback coupes with the advent of the new 9-3 last year, a Saab built on GM corporate architecture-the Epsilon platform that is shared by Opel and Saturn. So the raw material that was used to build a convertible was in fact a four-door sedan. They kept the dimensions, the front-end sheetmetal, and much of what was underneath it, but starting at the windshield, "We built a whole new car from there on back," according to one Saab official. The convertibles will be built for Saab by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria, not in the Swedish headquarters at Trollhattan. The resulting Saab 9-3 convertible is one of several European four-seater, all-weather ragtops varying in price from $40,000 to $50,000 in base trim. They have tops that are tighter-fitting, better padded, and quieter than any previous convertible tops and that disappear behind the second seat. Cowls trail off the rear head restraints for a more sporty look. Some, including the new Saab, use electronic signals from the key fob to open the top and drop the glass while you're walking toward the car. It is powered by a 20-liter Ecotec corporate engine that puts out 221 pound-feet of torque, although Saab uses only the Ecotec block and provides all its own internals, turbocharging, and mapping. Its power will be more than adequate for most of Saab's traditional turbo customers. Equipped with a Touring package it includes rain-sensing wipers, parking assist, an in-dash six-CD changer, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a garage-door opener, a Cold Weather package of heated front seats and headlamp washers and a five-speed automatic transaxle, with floor shifting. It also has electronic stability control, along with automatic rollover protection bars that deploy in 15 milliseconds. This convertible is 200 pounds heavier than the previous model, almost all of it in chassis and body reinforcements that make it almost 200-percent more resistant to twisting and bending, and it couldn't happen to a more deserving car. The old convertible had all the structural rigidity of shredded wheat and was prone to massive torque steer, especially the Viggen version. You could cross a railroad track and vibrate for the rest of the afternoon. That kind of ricketyness has been banished completely. When the new six-bow top is down, it's beautifully integrated inside and out, from end to end. This one also goes, for the most part, exactly where you point it, with just a momentito of steering lightness when you first mash the pedal and the nose lifts up. Like no other Epsilon-based car, the Saab has passive rear-wheel steering built into the rear bushings, and it helps make the car feel sure-footed in everything from quick jinks to 100-mph sweepers. Top down, you can talk to your pals without shouting. The new seats hold you like your mom did when you were three and are just as comfortable.
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