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SEE ALSO:Saab Buyer's Guide

Over the years much has been written about the uniqueness of Saab automobiles. Stylewise they have always been a little different because of a design philosophy that was built on the premise of form following function. This was of paramount importance due to the rugged terrain and extreme cold of the Scandinavian climate. In spite of its "different" look Saab developed a loyal ownership following, particularly in our Northern states and New England. Last year the newest 900 sedan debuted, and this summer a new coupe and convertible made their appearance.

While the convertible and the 3-door coupe share the same basic platform, almost everything behind the windshield is exclusive to the convertible. The body, floor pan, A- pillar and windshield frame have all been strengthened to gain the structural stiffness required in a convertible. The 900 V6 convertible is more than a Swedish car. It is international. Its V6 engine is from GM-England, the soft top is from American Sunroof Corporation in Michigan, and these together with the Swedish body and trim components are all sent to Finland for final assembly.

A few words about the top. It is a microprocessor-controlled mechanical marvel. To put it down just undo two windshield latches and press a switch. In orchestrated sequence the hard boot lifts up, the top with its heated glass rear window automatically folds into its storage compartment and the boot then lowers and locks. To put the top up push the same switch and the process reverses.

APPEARANCE: The convertible maintains the traditional Saab grille and wraparound headlights. Its soft top is made up with inner and outer fabric plus a middle layer of rubberized material to improve weatherproofing and sound insulation. Its styling is slightly wedge-shaped with a low nose and high rear deck. Black trim contrasts nicely with the solid body color. Pirelli P4000 tires are mounted on spoked alloy wheels. Top up, or top down this convertible looks great!

COMFORT: The 900 is a roomy convertible with wide-opening doors and comfortable leather seats. The driver's seat is power adjustable with memory buttons, and both front seats are heated. When the top is up its lined interior gives this Saab the quietness of a coupe. All instruments, controls and switches are logically positioned and easy to see and use. Creature comforts include power windows, locks, and mirrors, and an excellent AM/FM/cassette sound system with a 6-disc trunk-mounted CD player. Top up or down the automatic climate control unit works well and quietly. The low-liftover trunk is spacious for a convertible, and when the top is up its flexible storage area can be raised for additional space. There is also a rear seat pass-through for skis. When more cargo space is needed the rear seats can be folded down. A trip computer and message center provide desired travel data.

SAFETY: In addition to four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes the Saab 900 convertible has its strong, sound steel structure and side guard door beams, with front and rear crush zones, and a collapsible steering column. Other features include front dual air bags and three point seat belts. The ignition switch is still out of harm's way on the floor.

ROADABILITY: Like the other new 900 models the convertible suspension is engineered to provide a sporting, responsive ride. With its near-neutral steering, Pirelli speed-rated tires, and independent suspension it really hugs the road at highway speeds and higher. The 900 does not dip when the brakes are applied, nor does it lean very much on sharp turns. All-around vision is good for a convertible as the rear windows have been enlarged, and the rear window is glass with a defogger. This latest Saab, like its predecessors, is a car that is fun and safe to drive.

PERFORMANCE: The 900 SE is equipped with sturdy and smooth 2.5 liter, V6 engine. It features four-cams, four-valves per cylinder, multi-port fuel injection and distributorless ignition. It develops 170 lively horsepower across a broad "torque plateau." When mated with the smooth, quiet-shifting four-speed automatic transmission the convertible has plenty of power to go almost anywhere. The transmission has three settings, sport, normal and winter. In the winter mode the transmission starts out in third gear to minimize wheel slippage on slippery surfaces.

CONCLUSION: New Saabs don't happen very often When they do it is for evolutionary product improvement. In the new 900 SE convertible Saab has made all of the right moves. This is one of the best yet.


	   Base Price              $ 38,490
	   Price As Tested         $ 39,745
	   Engine Type             V-6, dohc - 24v efi
	   Engine Size             2.5 liter/152 cid   
	   Horsepower              170 @ 5900
	   Torque (ft/lbs)         167 @ 4200
	   Wheelbase/Length        102"/183"
	   Transmission            4-speed electric auto w/od
	   Curb Weight             3180
	   Pounds per Horsepower   19
	   Fuel Capacity           18
	   Fuel Requirement        Unleaded 87 - 93 oct
	   Tire                    Pirelli P4000E 195/60VR15
	   Brake                   anti-lock standard      disc/disc
	   Drive Train             front engine/front drive
	   EPA Economy - miles per gallon,        
	     city/highway/observed      19/25/21.4     
	   0 to 60 mph                  8.9 sec
	   1/4 mi (E.T.)                16.9 sec  
	   Coefficient of drag (cd)     .36