In praise of the 9-5

We had another car club event today. A track day at Baskerville Raceway.

I’ve been eagerly anticipating this ever since I purchased my Viggen late in 2005. And I wasn’t disappointed.

What a hoot!!

We started the day with the usual briefing session and then broke into 3 groups for various skills development sessions: slalom, braking, and tightened cornering.

The slalom was heaps of fun. I almost felt like I was in the Saab Suite. The Viggen handled the cones pretty well. I’m not sure how far apart they were spaced, but I managed about a 40 km/h average through it.

Next up was the braking test, which was much more straightforward than I thought. ABS will do that. But it was still good to see how quickly you can pull up.

The final session was a cornering session where they tightened up one of the corners with witches hats and we had to get to speed and steer through it without hitting the brakes at all. We started with a run at 50 km/h and at our own leisure, raised the speed. I got through comfortably at 70 km/h and decided to just hammer it.

Bad move.

I was more concerned about my speed than my technique and turned in late, wiping out 4 cones in the process, one of which took some paint off my front spoiler as it dragged under the car for around 40 meters.

Live and learn.

After a quick lunch session, we got out on the track for a series of laps with an instructor in the car. This was the focal point of the day, and it wasn’t disappointing.

I’ve never driven the Viggen so hard and felt so rewarded. There’s no doubt my track technique needs a fair bit more work, but I felt that the drive was a big improvement over last year, and things just seemed to get better as the day went on.

One thing I didn’t count on, though, was the handling and performance of the 9-5 Vector being driven by one of our club members, whom I’ll refer to here as “The Hammer”. The Viggen was bloody quick down the straight and would well and truly hold it’s own. But in the corners, The Hammer and his 9-5 were all over me and I had no choice but to follow the directions of the track marshal and allow the 9-5 to pass.

The Viggen’s quick, but it needs some work in the handling department. The 9-5? Well, let’s just say that it justified it’s spot at the top of the Saab tree today. A car that I had already underestimated once proves to me that I’d underestimated it even more than I realised. Kudos to one heck of a good handling car.

I’d have loved to provide you all with some photos, but the few Saabs that we had there were all on track at the same time.

The most impressive cars out of the other attendees at the event were a beautiful Triumph TR5, a very quick Alfa GTV6 and a surprisingly quick Mazda6. The biggest disappointment was probably the Alfa 156 GTA, but I think that was probably more to do with the gentle nature of the guy behind the wheel. I think the GTA definitely had more potential.

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5 Comments

  1. What’s this? Mr El-Supremo Viggen Owner upstaged by a suave, grey-haired old codger with a tartan rug on the back parcel shelf of his 9-5 Vector? You should be bloody ashamed of yourself!

    I’ll have you know that while you were zooming around flat-stick, with apparent reckless abandon for the price of oil, tyres and the plight of humpback whales, I was staggering slowly towards Kingston in my old 95. “Can’t you go any faster?”, the passengers asked, observing the line of 50 vehicles trailing behind. “This is it”, I exclaimed, noting the speed to be 50km/hr…….

    Drew B

  2. Swade,

    Have you fitted an Abbott Racing Viggen Rescue kit or not?

    Does the job the say..

    Torquesteer ate the tyres on my 2000 mdl year Ovlov V70 R wagon (Laser Blue, Black Alcantara seats)in under 8,000 miles- what does a Viggen do to the tyre?

  3. Lance, I’m getting the rescue kit next month from a supplier in Melbourne. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes, though I think tyres might make a difference too.

    DB, speed wan’t the problem, it was the Queen Mary style sideways leaning in corners that kept slowing me down (that and the too-late braking).

    I’m up in Launnie today, poss until Wed. CCC for dinner then?

  4. Swade, Glad to hear you have sourced an Abbott Viggen rescue kit.

    Methinks tyres will -as you say be critical. Thought of trying Continentals? Wouldn’t think Bridgestones would work all the time But don’t know. Michelins would last but lack grip, Pirellis might grip but not last- the compound is critical and Tassy roads might well not equate with Euro road compounded tyres. But hang on, Swedish roads are not that different to Tassy roads- quite a lot of debris and gravel – yes?

    I had Pirelli P something thousnads on my 900Gli – gripped but wore out quick.

    Abbott’s web site might provide some info – they have a questions box too..

    It will be really interesting to see what happens to your Viggen . What tyres on it now?

  5. You really belt this Vigg heavily don’t you ??? My advice would be to get a spring and shock absorber upgrade to lower it about 25 to 30 mm on top of the Abbot rescue kit. This really keeps it stable and for your driving style would be like a different car altogether.

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