evo drove the Austrian-built 9-3 Convertible in Sweden and can vouch for the car's rigidity. It is notably stiffer than the 3-series cabrio and rides better as a result, whilst the 9-3's smooth four-cylinder turbo engines (initially either 175bhp or 210bhp Aero) proved torquey enough to overcome the extra weight of the reinforced chassis.
The rear end of the 9-3 Convertible is completely different to the saloon and is the first production work of Saab chief designer Michael Mauer. The re-designed rear end also gives Saab the chance to spin off another model: a proper two-door coupe.
Traditionally Saab's 'coupe' models were little more than three-door hatchbacks. In the mid-1990s Saab engineers came up with the idea of creating a true coupe by fitting the existing 900 Convertible with an integrated steel roof. Inexplicably, American customer clinics concluded that coupes were yesterday's niche and the project was dropped. Since then the Mercedes CLK and BMW 3-series coupe have proved hugely successful. If parent company GM has the sense it'll grant the minimal funds Saab needs to develop a proper 9-3 coupe.