The MY08 Saab 9-3 – My Experience

What a day!!

I have a couple of videos currenly in progress and at least one of them will be up on site before I go to bed – I promise – and it will be well worth the wait. This entry and those videos will be my last entries from Sweden as I board the plane for Kabul Melbourne (well, we fly over it) in less than 12 hours.

Here’s what happened:

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At around 2pm we all met at an airport just outside Gothenburg. We were then transported by bus to a disused aircraft storage facility – underground! It was quite a spectacular sight to look down a tunnel that looked like it should house Thunderbird 1 and see a Saab sign at the end.

We registered at the desk and received our press goodies, which were all hung on a lanyard (little Saab planes all over it). Normally, a press kit is in the form of a booklet and a CD which has all the images and documentation on it. No such CD this time, however. In its place, though, was a 1GB UrSaab USB memory device!! This was cooler than cool and should ensure that the number of press kits appearing on Ebay will plummet (sorry Robin!)

I’ll have a video of the presentation to unveil the cars when I get back in Oz. Let me just say, though, that it was quite spectacular and made the paltry showing at the Festival on Sunday look like a poultry showing. This was set up to impress – and I’m sure it did.

One funny part – there were around 30 or so cars lined up on each side of the ‘hangar’ and we had to walk down the middle to a seating area, where the presentations were being made. With everyone seated, Jan-Ake Jonsson got up to speak and he was around two lines into his speech when one of the car alarms went off!

Honk! Honk! Honk! – It went on for around a full minute before it stopped – and then started again!!

And Again!!!

They eventually found the guy with the key they needed to get it sorted, but it was a little embrassing and quite funny all the same.

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After the presentations we found our cars. I was driving with Par Brandt from Sweden’s Auto Motor and Sport Magazine and Par booked us into a 9-3 Sportcombi TTiD Aero – the new 180hp twin turbo diesel.

TTiDbadge.jpg

At first, I wondered why, but that was my natural inclination towards gasoline powered vehicles coming through. As soon as we got going in this new 9-3, I knew he’d made a great choice.

More on that in a moment….

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From the hangar, a bunch of us went out to another airfield where got to do the one thing I’d been really, REALLY waiting for all week – we got to do a quick test drive in the new XWD (pronounced “cross-wheel-drive”) Saab 9-3.

XWDcombi.jpg

There are no production cars available yet, but these four red SportCombis were plucked from the chassis testing fleet to give the journos assembled a taste of what will come in MY08.5

A video and thoughts are coming shortly. In a word – brilliant!

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Back to the TTiD…..

The TTiD is a particularly important car for the European market, where diesel is still king. This engine is going to be available in conjunction with the existing TiD engine and for those who choose the uprated oilburner, a very pleasurable surprise awaits.

9-3SCTTiD%20rear.jpg

Thise two pipes have a lot to do with it.

This new diesel was keenly awaited in the Euro Saab forums and in comments here and having driven it, I can now see why. This is one fantastic drive.

Stand on the outside, and yes – it still sounds like a diesel. But you don’t drive it from the outside. Sit inside this car and open it up and the combination of 400Nm and twin exhausts makes you want to check the badge again and make sure it’s the diesel that you’re in.

I’ve been driving around all week in a Convertible with the single-turbo diesel engine. Whilst it’s a capable little unit, this uprated donk leaves it well and truly in the dust. The smaller turbo unit (they’re actually both within the one housing, I believe) ensures a quicker spool up and you can really notice it with even just the slightest hint of anger from your right foot.

It’s most lively around 2,000 rpm and the response and sound you get at that level are enough to make you come back again and again. It’s smooth and warbly. I don’t know what they’ve done to spec up the sound insulation, but it really is a marked improvement over the outgoing model. Par and his colleague Fredrik had bought a 2007 TiD Sportcombi to compare it and it was a notable difference.

Front3-4.jpg

The 2007 TiD is still a great unit. I was really happy in the one I had during the last week. But this new setup is a real and measureable progression and for those eager for some diesel performance, this should be right at the top of your must-drive list.

Jan-Ake mentioned that there were over 2,000 changes to this new model-year vehicle. Enhanced quietness must have figured prominently as a goal in that list. The car felt solid, stable and the road noise was much quieter than in the 2006. At one point, I sat in this car as it did around 140 km/h on the highway, up to 160 and then back to 140 for a stretch and it still felt like it was just doing 100. It’s not a lack of feedback at all, it’s just that it feels. that. good.

Any US visitors reading this right now, well may you weep at the fact that you won’t get this car. It’s a killer. It’s fun and it kills virtually all the previously mentioned downsides of owning a diesel, except the one where you hear it idling from the outside of the car.

My advice, don’t stand there and listen to it – get in and drive it.

The interior of our car featured the new, upgraded leather. It looks like the seats are a patchwork of the new stuff in places and the old leather in other places. Our car had an all-black interior and it did make for an improvement over the grey-room of the 06 we were driving.

Yes, the silver stip is still there around the dash, but to be honest I didn’t find a reflection from it was a distraction at all. I could see a minor reflection in the top left corner of the dash, but it wasn’t enough to make me think there was a crack there. And it was a bright sunny day here in Sweden, as it has been for the last week or so.

In summary – if you’re in a market that sells it, then you should go and drive the new twin turbo TTiD. It’ll surprise the daylights out of you and I promise it’ll make you smile.

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14 Comments

  1. great write up. thanks for the awesome coverage. i wish in the us we would get the ttid, but theres no demand for diesels

  2. Swade!

    Well done with the test-drives, looking forward to all the vids.

    Reads like Saab is back on the ball again. Our patience and loyalty is being rewarded.

  3. Diesel cars are nowadays becoming pretty much like gas (petrol) cars. In Europe, diesel accounts for more than 50% of car sales. It’s just cheaper to run diesel, and since the engines are now almost equivalent (unless you count the really high end) there are no barriers.

    Also, as you noticed, torque is, in my humble opinion, more important than horsepower. Diesel ahs plenty of torque.

    I just wish the Americans would get over their diesel reluctance. But alas, it’s “not invented here”…

  4. Wonderful to here that you have had a great time here in Sweden. I have a question maybe you or some one else can answer it, have you seen the new pepper green colour? How do you think it looks? any picture?
    Best Regards
    Jonas

  5. When is twin turbo NOT a twin turbo? Is this the same “marketing confusion” that caused Car and Driver and others to say the MY2006 9-3 Sport Combis had twin turbos? (This was in print in more thatn one issue and on the web:
    http://www.caranddriver.com/previews/9864/saab-9-3-sportcombi.html)

    A twin scroll turbo uses two separate inlet tracts, one for each cylinder bank. This separates the exhaust gas pulses, improves gas flow, reduces energy losses and raises the turbocharger efficiency.

    Engineering wise, it does not seem physically possible to incorporate two turbos in a single housing.

    Can we get some clarification or otherwise SEE this new engineering feat?

  6. Swade,

    It seemed like you was a little disappointed with the feel of the new leather interior. How was the overall build quality, fit and feel?

    Hopefully lightyears better than the 2004 I have. It is a disaster when it comes to rattles and premium feel 🙁

  7. “Normally, a press kit is in the form of a booklet and a CD which has all the images and documentation on it. No such CD this time, however. In its place, though, was a 1GB UrSaab USB memory device!!”

    the trinkets never cease to amaze me. (well scored!)

  8. Excellent show, Swade!! I know you enjoyed that trip as much as we enjoyed the coverage. Thank you for your dedication and time.

    Maybe this has been answered before, and with my lack of regular internet I missed it, but when exactly is 0.5 of a model year??

    Does the model year follow the fiscal year of October – September placing 0.5 at April, the standard 0.5 mark of July or some automotive 0.5 in January or February??

    Please e-mail the answer as I don’t want to make someone answer this more than once. Thank you!! talonderiel@hotmail.com

  9. In the UK, model year starts in Sept, therefore, Sept 2007 will see 2008 models coming on the roads, and 0.5 year models come out around March, possibly sometimes a little earlier.

    It’s already been confirmed to me from a source that ’08 MY cars will hit the road from Sept.

  10. TTxx? jaw-breaker or what;)

    It´s a pity that Saab does not introduce the new Opel/Vauxhall 1.6 Turbo patrol engine and drop the 1.8 base line engine and some of the low powered Diesels or even the 1.8t.
    Even as Ethanol engine, Opel´s 1.6 Turbo would be a great thing.

  11. I had to re-read this driving experience story once again. That´s a very good writeup Swade. Nice to hear so good comments about the new TTiD. I still wonder if the lesser (Linear/Vector) versions with single tip exhaust would sound more like typical diesel? Oh well.. I guess I´ll hear that quite soon…

  12. I bought the Saab 9-3 M2008, equipped with Saab`s own bluetooth system named BPIS. i have Nokia E51, it connects but its not possibly to
    import phone numbers and contacts to the system.
    Has anyone a solution to this problem.

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