Monday Snippets

That Saab Road Tests site I told you about the other day, it’s changing.

Well, it’s staying pretty much the same, but the address is changing. it was going to be an offshoot from this site, but I figured that things would go better in the future if it started with its own domain.

No content up yet, but if you’re interested: http://www.saabroadtests.com is the place to bookmark.

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Germany is joining the UK and the US and perhaps even Sweden in pushing the Pilots Wanted marketing campaign.

As part of the drive, they’ll be holding special driving events in Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne/Duesseldorf and Munich. There will be a whole bunch of promotional advertising and mailouts as well.

Germany’s a huge potential growth market for Saab, so here’s hoping the campaign captured the imagination.

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If Saab ever needed to hotfoot the arrival of the AWD-capable Epsilon II, it’s now. This is the moment I’ve been dreading – the time when BMW rediscovered turbocharging.

The 335i goes into the world with not one but two compact turbines. The low-inertia turbos work in parallel, each supplying compressed air to three cylinders, and are designed to eliminate turbo lag. In conjunction with gasoline direct injection, the net result is 300 hp at a relatively low 5800 rpm, accompanied by 300 lb-ft of torque all the way from 1400 to 5000 rpm.

On the move, the flat torque plateau quickly proves itself the 335i’s defining characteristic. It does not feel particularly quick off the mark, but the engine’s smooth manners shine through as it gathers momentum. Turn up the pace, and the engine responds in good humor, feeling more than capable of matching or beating BMW’s official 0-to-60-mph time of 5.3 seconds with a manual, or 5.5 seconds with the smooth six-speed Steptronic auto (that’s not much off the 4.8-second 0-to-62-mph time of the Euro-spec M3). The 335i enjoys more mid-range torque than its M-badged sister, and on the tight roads of the Austrian test route it proved phenomenal at passing slower traffic.

Saab needs to get that AWD thing happening so that it can take the reins off and take these bastards on.

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It’s 22 minutes from being the 1st of August as I write this.

That means July sales figures should start coming through in the next few days. US numbers will be lower in % terms once again, due to the Employee Discount program last year, but other regions will (hopefully) continue to improve.

Speaking of the US, I’m still mired in confusion over what their current summer sales event means in real terms. I’ve emailed Saab USA but still haven’t heard back yet, which is understandable as they’re preparing displays for the SOC and the Pebble Beach Concours (the Aero-X will be making an appearance).

UPDATE: The “current offers” page of the SaabUSA website highlights some 0% financing deals for certain 2006 models, but details are best cleared with your local dealer.

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2 Comments

  1. As with anything, nothing’s certain but I remember reading last year that because Epsilon 2 platform development is behind schedule the new 9-3/9-5 production has been moved from 2008/09 to at least 2010.

    If this is so, we won’t see an AWD 9-3 or 9-5 for at least four more years.

    As it is, the aforementioned BMW is a twin-turbocharged 3.5 liter I6. Unless SAAB does something drastically different, the next-gen Epsilon 2-based 9-3 is likely to only have a small displacement (2.8 or 3 liter?) V6 engine with two-stage turbo in Aero form as its highest-performance engine. I don’t know if that can compete with the Bimmer performance-wise, even with the AWD.

    Any GM insiders reading here who have word on progress of Epsilon 2 development? SAAB’s next-gen cars are waiting on it.

  2. Surely it was just a matter of time before the Bavarian re-visited forced induction, and isn’t just a matter of time before one with the M badge has a turbo? Tough to keep up with that.

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