Cool cabrios

Run a cabrio in winter? You must be joking! We see how Saab’s new 9-3 convertible and Volkswagen's Eos shape up as all-year all-rounders

Saab 9-3 cabrio v VW Eos

Cabriolets are like ice cream – they sell well in the summer. After all, when the sun is shining, there’s nothing like opening the roof to enjoy the fresh air.

But unless you’re lucky enough to own two cars, you’ll have to live with your cabrio when winter comes. So it makes sense to test them in the hardest conditions, as we are doing here with Saab’s revamped 9-3 and the VW Eos. Saab recently re-engineered the 9-3 range, but the Swede still has a fabric hood. We try the entry-level 150bhp 1.9 TiD Linear SE, which costs £26,430.

That’s considerably more than the £22,647 Eos 2.0 TDI Sport, which follows the coupé cabrio trend, and has a retractable steel roof. So which is our top choice for beating the big chill?

Verdict

There’s no denying that Saab’s revisions add more dynamism to the 9-3 Convertible. It’s handsome with the top down and is a well thought out cabriolet, thanks to its rapid hood and warm cabin. It has less scuttle shake than before and therefore drives better. Yet when compared with the Eos, the Saab still feels like a car due a revamp, not a model that’s just had one.

The body structure isn’t stiff enough, the handling lacks poise and although the cabin is roomy, the quality is simply not good enough for a car costing over £26,000.

Not only is the Eos nearly £4,000 cheaper, it’s faster, better to drive, more attractive inside and out, more efficient and significantly cheaper to run. It’s not as spacious, and fitting four inside is trickier, but that’s a trade-off we’re happy to make. The VW’s quality is superior, and its folding steel roof, with integrated electric sunroof, is truly state-of- the-art and very well packaged.

But it’s how well the Eos stacks up as an overall proposition that sees it emerge victorious here. Not only has the VW defeated more conventional opponents such as the Focus CC and Astra TwinTop, it’s proved it has the talent to beat premium rivals. No wonder it’s our favourite cabrio.

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