I’m slowly getting my head back to earth. There’s been lots of questions etc in comments about the new 9-3 so I’ll do what I can here to answer some of them (and a couple of other things):
How did the car compare to the BMW 335 you drove last month? Have you noticed handling improvements in the front wheel drive models as well? 🙂
Both the BMW and the XWD Saab were short drives, so it’s difficult to compare. The BMW engine was awesome and I didn’t think about the Saab engine so much. It was mainly a case of “can you feel the system?”.
I’m a newbie to the world of AWD so I’m not going to claim I could feel the traction shifting, etc. What I can say, however, is that this is a major move for Saab. They’re the first company in the world to use this new system and they’ve done such a good job with it that Saab have been given the responsibility of implementing it for other GM brands.
I wrote with some naivete a long time ago that Saab should be leading a global GM charge and I recall a SaabCentral moderator writing a similar thing as well. Saab currently lead GM’s Turbocharging and E85 developments and now they’re adding this XWD system as well. Maybe it wasn’t so naive after all.
So, Saab XWD vs BMW 335? I definitely know which one I’d take, but I’m biased. Objectively, the Black Turbo will likely be more appropriate 335 competitor when it comes next year. The 9-3 in XWD form will likely still suffer from fit-and-finish and interior comparisons by the mainstream press, but there’s little doubt in my mind that the XWD addition is a very big step in the right direction. The ride and quietness has definitely improved, too, but it won’t get all the plaudits it deserves as this is probably bringing up to what the journos thought it should be from the beginning.
Well, let’s assume those comparos are semi-accurate and the XWD 9-3 is at least comparable to the Porsche. Even if the 4WD 911 Turbo is actually a considerable distance ahead of the XWD 9-3 Aero, consider that you could buy four of those Saabs (and a Hyundai Accent) for the price of that one Porsche. That’s pretty kickass to someone like me who will never ever be able to afford a new 4WD 911 Turbo (or even a used one).
Saab say they did these tests at least 20 times in each car. It was a short-course slalom test around three cones and a distance of around 120m. The cars entered at 40km/h and then went full throttle through the cones.
The aim of the test appears primarily to be measure the stability of the cars through the cones. Better lateral acceleration means that the power is getting to the corner that needs it and based on Saab’s test results, the XWD system does what it says it does.
As noted elsewhere in comments though, companies will always publish information that’s favourable. They’d be caught out if they lied about the results of this test, so I have little trouble believing them and they’re still impressive, but there’s no other tests published that show where the Saab might be deficient.
All I can say is, wait your six months and then go drive it. You’ll love it. Another thing I can’t claim any authority in is rating a car’s power output just from driving it. As I didn’t ask whether the cars we drove were 250hp (i.e. MY07’s with XWD fitted) or 280hp (MY08’s in full spec) I can’t tell you exactly what we drove. My companion for the day, Auto Motor and Sport’s Par Brandt, felt quite sure that it wasn’t the 280hp model. As he does this for a living I’m quite happy to accept that.
If there’s another 30hp to go into the car that I drove on Monday, then it should be even more fun. As Par mentioned in his article, a lot of people were laughing out loud as they drove it, such was the fun. That say a lot if you ask me.
Also, does the XWD engine remain transversely mounted?
All we drove were V6s and it’s unclear to me at this point whether AWD will be offered with the 4’s. That said, I’d find it hard to think that they’d have gone ahead with it if it meant a major re-engineer like changing the mount direction. But I’m no mechanical type.
i’m convinced xwd will bring much-needed cachet to saab. authentic design is a key component for saab, but performance is the other main part. if the power can’t stay on the ground, performance is moot. saab needs to be a 300-ish bhp player if it wants to be taken seriously. xwd is a nice way to get there
I agree 200%.
What Saab needs is to expand its market and the best way to do that is in an upward direction. It means innovation and hopefully, better earnings for the company that can then open doors for more R&D.
The 9-1 will come (eventually) and give most of us a shot at an entry level Saab, but a car like this expands the horizons for Saab in an aspirational way, and that’s pretty important in the marketing game.
I hope the ride won’t suffer much (like in the Volvo S40/V50 T5 AWD)
We only got to take the XWD around a track a few times, so it’s hard to tell. But if the ride improvements and subsequent benefits we saw in the TTiD also apply to the XWD, then I’ve got few fears in the ride department.
That Video tells alot about the XWD. Minimal tire squealing, sharp emergency manauvering, and some crazy drifting angles and speed in the wet zone area. It would have been insane if there was another camera filming from outside the course! I do not know if I can wait for the XWD, I want my First Saab Now!
I have become an avid reader and a growing enthusiast.
Re part 1 – There were some cameramen shooting stills for various publications whilst Kenneth did that lap. I hope I get to see some of the shots from it. He really demonstrated what the car could do – an it was impressive. I just wish the sense of speed was conveyed adeqautely by the in-car camera (which it wasn’t).
Re part 2: Growing enthusiasm is what it’s all about. Welcome!
From Saab9x (again):
the xwd system was getting quite a workout; it seemed more noticeable in the “drink”; although, the dry pavement was not to be taken for granted, either. certainly.
Kenneth really did throw that car around. The fact that it was a pre-production model and that they were showing it to the press didn’t put him off at all. I can tell you he was smiling just as much as I was. That guy just loves his office.
That’s pretty robust for a pre-production car.
I wish there was a reverse camera so we could have seen all the cones you knocked over
I think I took out one cone on the final lane change exercise and I’m pretty sure that Kenneth took out the middle cone in the slalom, but he sure did come out of that skid pan in wild shape and pretty darn quick!
Pupluh, who I met in Trollhattan:
22 hours? Thats about what took me to get home too 🙂 but I was flying a little lower 😉 On a plane you can get at least a half decent sleep, unlike trying to sleep on a 160cm couch onboard a ferry – after SDCC there no more cabin money 🙂 On the other hand you are missing a 230+ kph early morning Autobahn chase with a Mustang GT.
I’ll take that drive over my flight any day. What a drag.
The SDCC he’s referring to is the big sale of NOS during the festival, and it sounds like he spent a bit, which would have been easy to do, especially if you had the means to get your stuff home.
I was not that lucky as I crash landed my 9-5 Aero on a gravel road on May 30, 2007 en route to Cape Town, South Africa. You see, I made the cardinal error of switching off the traction control whilst driving on gravel at speeds less than 60kph, and paid the ultimate price. Am not hurt, just bewildered and sad seeing my pampered 9-5 belly up.
That’s bad news, Danni. I’m sure all are pleased that you’re Ok, and hope you either get the 9-5 repaired or replaced in good time.
There should be a good AWD model coming in the near future. Well worth your consideration if it makes it to SA in a timely manner.
From Jeff K:
I am really happy for SAAB. i think 08 will be a great year. Do we have a name for these light bar/coil thingies yet?
I agree. I think 2008’s going to be a great one after a transition year in 2007. After driving an 06 Convertible for a week and then going straight into the 08 TTiD, the improvements in terms of ride and quietness alone (on the same tyres, too) are quite measurable. And that’s before we get on to covering the engine. For a market like Europe, I can’t emphasise how important that TTiD could be.
Saab are calling it signature lighting, and the common terms elsewhere appear to be ‘light pipes’ or ‘daytime runners’.
Yeah, Yeah the car looks, just like the photos that we saw last month, how about some details. !!! You get to talk to Saab insiders and I still haven’t read anything new !!
Some dates would be nice, is XWD coming out across the range (the TTiD ?). Why do marketing guys always think that putting the best mechanical package on the heaviest and most expensive(Aero) is a good idea ?? $80K for a Saab 9-3, come on !! And why is putting a Holden engine in a Saab a good idea (I know its all about 3 letters, USA) ?? Saab should stick to what the know, 4 cylinder turbos.
Love the 9-3, not so much the barge that is 9-5
One at a time, Janet Jackson.
Press releases from Saab with full details were published a few days ago.
New stuff will come as I get time to write it up accurately. The improvements to the 9-3 are numerous and noteworthy and shouldn’t be overshadowed by other news and rumours. This is Saab’s bread and butter we’re talking about and when you get time to drive it you’ll realise it’s not yesterday’s news. The re-design is great and as you note, it’s something we’ve largely been looking at for around 2 months already. The big news with this car, though, is behind the wheel and it’s there that Saab need to turn around some skeptical journos.
As far as I can tell (tho I’m yet to get through the releases in full detail myself) the XWD will initially be available on the V6 Aero. I’d be surprised if they didn’t offer it on the TTiD in time. I think it’s a question that needs to be asked explicitly, though, so I’ll ask it some time soon.
The Aero is the logical choice for the initial release of the XWD. It’s the halo model for the moment and makes the most business sense as there’s got to be some incentive to move up. I hope it trickles down as well, but we’ll have to give it time.
The V6 is a sweet engine and I’m sure it’ll be even more appreciated by those who end up with a 280hp version, or more when the Black Turbo comes.
From David Pugh:
Seems a shame to post this – the dealers will all go through this event and it’s a shame to spoil the surprise (a lot of them visit this site…). Maybe post in a few weeks once the event is over?
David, whilst the dealer attention is appreciated (long may it continue), I’m afraid it’ll be up to them to refrain from hitting the button. The posting is for the benefit of all those that won’t get to see it.
From Saab9x (again,again)
swade may have gotten some “backstage” access to parts of the facilities, but that doesn’t mean that he saw concept drawings or highly sensitive data…..
…..swade said he met some prominent saab folks. they have classified info, i’m sure, but i doubt that they were at liberty to discuss it
Indeed there were no sensitive drawings or data spotted. And indeed I met many Saab folks during the week and had several very interesting discussions. I have to put a little time between the festival and how information from it comes out as these people have careers etc. I also have to make sure that I recall what I talked about correctly as I don’t want to be feeding you folks the wrong info.
Whilst there I learned from people in the know that I’m reasonably accurate a high proportion of the time. That’s really important to me, as it should be to you.
Kaz, I can’t find the question, but Snow Silver is definitely the color used on the Aero-X. It’s mentioned in part of the 9-3 unveiling that I haven’t uploaded yet (and won’t get to for another 48-60 hours).
My pet tongue-in-cheek name for Snow Silver is “Dolphin Grey Metallic” but don’t let that put you off – it looks brilliant.