More BSR ECU stuff.

More about those BSR tuning kits at Elkparts.

An ECU upgrade is without doubt the easiest bang-for-the-buck power upgrade you can do. After that there’s filters, exhaust, downpipes, intakes etc. But in value for money terms the ECU is the one with the wow factor.

I’m not sure that I’ll go for the BSR unit just yet. I want to compare the HP and torque curves for all the available units. But the BSR unit does seem to be incredibly convenient, with no need to actually remove and replace your existing ECU, as you have to do with ECUs from Hirsch, Abbott, Nordic or Maptun.

One important thing to keep in mind with the ECU upgrade is that the car has to be able to handle to the extra power. In the case of my Viggen, for example, it’d be pointless adding 74Nm of torque to a car that has trouble reining in the current 342 Nm of torque that it was blessed with out of the factory. Hence I’ll be doing a Viggen Rescue Kit from Abbott prior to doing the ECU. If I want to add a heap more horsepower I’d also have to consider tougher pistons as the factory ones were only rated to around 300HP.

The point? You can’t just consider these things in isolation, you have to make sure you plan the upgrades so that the car retains it’s deriveability and reliability. For the 9-5 and 9-3 SS, an upgrade like this should be fairly do-able, but if you’ve got an old-gen 9-3 like mine then plan ahead.

Anyway, for those who are interested, Elkparts have BSR units for the following Saabs (as well as the V6 unit previously mentioned). I’ve organised them in model and then model year order, so you should be able to see the potential for your own car fairly easily. The numbers in the first lot of parenthesis are your factory numbers and the numbers in the second parenthesis are either modified HP, or HP and torque gained (should be self-explanatory).

All these units are priced at around $1,412 and are freaky good HP/$ increases. The links below will lead you to Elkparts’ page for the item with more details and the all-important horsepower and torque curves for the selected upgrade.

Saab 9-3 1998-2002

Saab 9-3 2.3 HOT Viggen M99- (230bhp/350Nm) Stage One upgrade (+44bhp/+74Nm) – click here

Saab 9-3 2.0 HOT Aero M00-02 (205bhp/280Nm) Stage One upgrade (+43bhp/+89Nm) – click here

Saab 9-3 2.0T M00-02 (185bhp/263Nm) Stage One upgrade (+47bhp/+117Nm) – click here

Saab 9-3 2.0t M01-02 (150bhp/219Nm) Stage One upgrade (+63bhp/+102Nm) – click here

SAAB 9-3 SS, Conv 2003 onwards

Saab 9-3 Sports Saloon 1.8t (150bhp) M03- / Sports Convertible M04- Stage One upgrade (204bhp/310Nm) – click here

Saab 9-3 Sports Saloon 2.0t (175bhp) M03- / Sports Convertible M04- Stage One upgrade (204bhp/310Nm) – click here

Saab 9-3 Sports Saloon 2.0T Aero (210bhp) M03- / Sports Convertible M04- Stage One upgrade (247bhp/388Nm) – click here

SAAB 9-5

Saab 9-5 2.3 M98-00 (170bhp/280Nm) Stage One upgrade (+64bhp/+98Nm) – click here

Saab 9-5 2.0 lpt M98-00 (150bhp/240Nm) Stage One upgrade (+65bhp/+113Nm) – click here

Saab 9-5 2.3 HOT Aero M99-02 (230bhp/350Nm) Stage One upgrade (+44bhp/+84Nm) – click here

Saab 9-5 2.3 M01-02 (185bhp/280Nm) Stage One upgrade (+44bhp/+98Nm) – click here

Saab 9-5 2.0 lpt M01-02 (150bhp/240Nm) Stage One upgrade (+70bhp/+120Nm) – click here

Saab 9-5 2.3 Aero M03- (250bhp/350Nm) Stage One upgrade (+24bhp/+84Nm) – click here

Saab 9-5 2.3 M03- (185bhp/280Nm) Stage One upgrade (+44bhp/+98Nm) – click here

Saab 9-5 2.0 lpt M03- (150bhp/240Nm) Stage One upgrade (+70bhp/+120Nm) – click here

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  1. Just a remark: in my 9-3s (I owned two) we changed the ECU 6 times to try different ECU upgrades (Hirsch/Nordic). Actually, sometimes the ECU was not changed just reprogrammed. Sometimes we passed my ECU to an another car to present the owner the difference.
    It made by the president of our Saab club and it took only 10 minutes, including programming with Tech2 (the club has it’s on Tech2 for the disposal of club members, the president is one of the best Saab experts in Hungary, even better then most of the official dealer’s stuff. He is the exclusive hungarian dealer of Nordic tuning product, but the local Maptun/BSR dealer is also my friend).
    So I can’t imagine what can be more comfortable than this. 🙂

  2. Just one more information: the president of the club I mentioned above has a Viggen. As far as I remember it has 320 HP and 450 Nm (custom ECU software, stainless exhaust, forged blow-off valve, custom differential, PowerFlex polyurethan bushing kits and some other custom parts what I don’t know exactly). He and and some another club members (including me) also built in the Taliaferro steering rack brace and clamp to decrease the torque steering. (With the Nordic software my HOT engine has the same performance as a standard Viggen, I also changed the clutch to Viggen set, because the factory cluth was soon worn out by the high torque). This Taliaferro part works well, it significantly reduce the torque steering, however one club member has reported a strange fault: this stronger brace did cracks on the firewall at the fixing points, so a big part of the firewall had to be changed by welding. We asked Taliaferro about this issue and he told that they don’t have any incident yet like this. The president of our club then tried to look after the factory informations (he has very good relationship with the Swiss Saab headquarter and also some contact in the Swedish factory). He found that AFTER the earlier 9-3 model years (1998-99 MY?) Saab strengthened the firewall due to the chance of similar problems on the early factory models.
    He’s Viggen is an early version so he decided to dismount the Taliaferro part and replace it again with the factory part just to keep the things on the safe side.
    However, he suggested me to keep it because on my 2001 MY 9-3 the firewall is stronger. I used this part since february without any problem until now on both of my current and previous 9-3s.
    As far as I know the Abbott Viggen Rescue Kit also contains a very similar steering rack brace and clamp (might be the same?).
    So, Wade, check the informations too, is it any chance on your model to have the firewall cracks due to the more rigid brace and clamp. I also going to ask my club president about the detailed and exact informations and send it as soon as I have.
    Maybe this particular case was only a unique incident and you don’t have to worry, but it’s better to be sure.

  3. I know of a friend who has a Viggen, I am gonna ask him about this as he might know a lot more than me.

    But as Ivan mentioned, it could have been a more particular case and there mustn’t be anything to worry about. Still will just confirm and get back!

  4. I received the answer from our club president regarding the firewall problem.
    Only the 9-3 models belonging the 1999 MY and manufactured in 1998 and 1999 could be involved. After the mentioned model year Saab used more welding point on the firewall though the firewall itself remained the same.
    As far as I remember there was also a recall due to some firewall cracks, there’s a long thread about this issue on the Saabcentral forum (unfortunately it’s not available for me at the moment). Maybe it is some another problem, I don’t remember.
    Check this:

  5. Through my preferred Saab expert, the team at Saabserve in Sydney, they’ve done about 3 Viggens with the BSR upgrade as well as mine and others. They also promote and sell the rescue kit (and it certainly looks the same as the Abbott’s bits). To date there has not been any issues that I am aware off. One thing is clear, depending on your driving style and how much you push your vehicle, so will the behavior and results be. A Viggen out of the box with no TCS in it is a hard beast to control as is. Adding the BSR to it as such will make it harder. I concur with Swade’s comments. Nevertheless, if you are looking for the extra bit of performance in certain conditions like overtaking, extra acceleration and earlier torque, it’s worth it.

  6. The firewall issue is a real one. I’ve heard from a guy in Sydney some time ago that there’s been a few up there do some firewall damage.

    Might be another issue to look into prior to upping my HP. Richard, you might want to do some hunting around as well.

    The 99 Viggen I drove in Melbourne with the Nordic upgrade had a modification to the rescue kit as it was making somesort of noise, might have been firewall strain. He used a rubberised washer (or something similar) to allow a little give in the steering rack clamp. Torque steer was still minimised but he had no firewall problems.

    I’ll see if I can get a photo of what he changed (Jeff, if you’re reading this then I’ll be in touch soon!)

    I’m still very interested in doing this ECU upgrade though. Like you say Joe, the extra low-end punch will be fantastic.

  7. Based on my and my Saab owner friend’s experiences the Stage1/Step1 ECU upgrades have different characteristics.
    Maptun: allows higher HP and torque by higher charge pressure. The torque comes earlier than with the factory settings. The curve of torque profile is not very smooth. The protection of engine is less important than the higher performance.
    Hirsch: allows less HP and torque than Maptun with less overcharging. The torque profile is very smooth. It tries to protect the engine against to be overloaded.
    Nordic: allows higher HP and torque than Hirsch and less than Maptun. Torque profile is smoother than Maptun but not so smooth than Hirsch. The torque comes earlier than with Hirsch. It seems to be a good balance between performance and protecting the engine.
    Unfortunately, we have very little experiences with BSR.
    There are also some differences in the way of programming the ECU. Hirsch (and maybe BSR? I’m not sure) stores the software modifications in different way then Nordic.
    There’s an interesting story happened with the new owner of my previous car. Before I sold it we replaced my new car’s ECU with the previous one and just downloaded a small upgrade modul into it by Tech2 (My previous engine was a B205E with Garrett T17 turbocharger, the new one is a B205R with Mitsubishi TD04, so the turbo parameters in the ECU needed to be upgraded).
    Then my old car got an another ECU with Hirsch Step1 software.
    The new owner later built in a HID headlight which is not fit to the standard electronics of the car (of course, this model is not prepared to use HID Xenon lights.) After the change the SID showed some error codes because of the “alien” unit on the bus (of course).
    The technician who made the modification of the light supposed he’s good enough to handle it. He tried to delete the error code with a Bosch diagnostic computer. Of course, it is not the standard unit to communicate with Saab Trionic/DICE/TWICE/ and another subsystems, it can’t use the right protocol etc.
    The result was that the system “thought” it is a possible “sabotage” action and it completely reseted the ECU: the Hirsch upgrade has been deleted due to the bungler action!
    Nordic is different. Even after such kind of inexpert “rape” of the system it will not be deleted.

  8. Hi guys my name is tony.. i own a 1996 saab 900se turbo… i’m looking to upgrade my car with some performance parts… i’m asking you guys for some help of what should i start with??? and a good web site that i should go to for this… Please email me info:

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