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Saab's diesel drop-top is a delight.

Byline: PETER HAYWARD

SAAB'S GM-sourced 1.9 twin turbo diesel engine is brilliant, with huge mid-range acceleration even in the fairly heavyweight 9-3 cabriolet.

I always thought it odd that soft-top cars were heavier than their hatch siblings from the same range.

But eventually I found out that all the extra strengthening needed to replace the metal roof is the culprit.

The 9.3 Cabriolet is very quick and reasonably agile roof up or down but there is some scuttle shake with it stowed away.

The mid-range punch of this twin turbo engine is brilliant - and gives the same feel as Saab's excellent turbo petrol models.

But they cannot match the excellent economy of the oil burner, which should give a real average of over 40mpg.

The ride, with sports suspension, is rather lumpy, but the handling is good with plenty of grip.

Safety is comprehensive, as you would expect from Saab, and it's worth going for the company's service and maintenance plan, which even covers renewable items like tyres and exhaust.

This top model has leather and sportier-looking bumpers, and the cabin is a lovely place to be, with excellent seat adjustment giving the perfect driving position for all.

Quality is not quite up to the Germans in some respects and this model is very expensive, but it is a proper four-seat convertible and there are not many of those around.

FAST FACTS Saab 9-3 Convertible PRICE: pounds 30,900 MECHANICAL: 177bhp, 1,910cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox MAX SPEED: 137mph 0-62MPH: 8.7 seconds COMBINED MPG: 52 INSURANCE GROUP: 13 CO2 EMISSIONS: 144g/km BIK RATING: 20% WARRANTY: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles MARKS: 8/10 MAIN RIVAL: Volvo C70

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The mid-range punch of the Saab 9-3 Cabriolet's twin turbo engine is brilliant
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 22, 2010
Words:302
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