Car Hire in Scotland
- Saab Convertible from Guy Salmon
Ken Scott and travel writer Vivien Devlin travelled to the Old Course St. Andrews to stay at the Old Course Hotel and Rufflets Hotel in a Saab Turbo Convertible from Guy Salmon. Here is Ken's report of their experiences driving in the car from Edinburgh to St Andrews and touring in parts of the Kingdom of Fife.
Convertibles in Scotland?
There are those who say that a convertible car north of the border makes no sense. They overlook that the hardy Scots wear kilts. They also forget that Saab make a convertible designed for the Swedish winter. The Saab 9-3 is the UK's best selling four-seater convertible. In a class where its competitors are somewhat short of space, it is a practical option for open top cruising and a natural choice for our weekend in the Kingdom of Fife.
Guy Salmon has years of experience in providing luxury and performance self-drive vehicles for the discerning traveller. They delivered a new 9-3 Turbo Convertible SE to us and, having coached us in the controls and given us a free hard-backed map, sent us on our way.
First thing to do was to take the roof down. The hood mechanism is one of the easiest around and with just a twist of a handle and the press of a button it disappears under the neat deck lid. Heading out of the city the car is easy to drive, ride quality is great and it already feels like a comfortable long distance tourer. Heading off the motorway, we cut across the rolling landscape past fields of gold to the sandy bay of St. Andrews.
Driving the Saab 9-3
Some thirty years ago, I travelled these same roads in my father's Saab 96. At that time the Saab was an unusual sight, and other owners would flash their headlights in greeting. Perhaps more common now, but the 9-3 still has a quirkiness that makes it stand out and has given Saab cars almost cult status.
The new 9-3 has seen more than 1000 changes over the previous 9000 model. The car not only looks better but offers improved build quality and handling. The cockpit has comfortable leather seats and the carbon fibre effect trim looks the part. Controls are well set out with a clever "black panel" that allows all dials except the speedometer to be switched off at night. As you would expect, equipment level is high with climate control, airbags, CD, electric windows and mirrors, trip computer and cruise control. On the outside, it looks more sleek and sporty. Our car had the optional boot spoiler, which gave it an imposing stance.
As we drove around St. Andrews reactions to the car seemed favourable. People passing in the street would stare, but with a smile rather than the contemptuous looks often aimed at open-top cars. An American tourist went out of his way to tell us that he thought it was a beautiful looking car and asked how long we had owned it. "Its one day old" we crooned like new parents and just didn't have the heart to tell him it wasn't ours. We treated the car to one of the most scenic parking spaces imaginable - almost on the fairway of the 18th hole of the Old Course.
Over the weekend, we criss-crossed the quiet country roads. The turbo charged engine provides good acceleration with only the occasional hint of torque-steer. For a reasonably large car, the Saab was easy to guide through the narrow winding streets of the little fishing villages that fringe the coast.
The 9-3 was a pleasure to live with and we were relaxed and refreshed by the time we headed back over the imposing span of the Forth Bridge.
There is nothing to beat open-topped motoring and luckily we only had to put the roof up for a few hours over the whole weekend. Golfers will tell you that it never rains on the golf course, but its wise to make sure that your car is equipped for more typical Scottish weather - better still for the "Svensk vinter".
Drive a Saab Yourself
You can rent this Saab and other stylish cars from Guy Salmon
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