Even more BSR tuning goodness…

Last night I mentioned the upgrade-of-the-upgrade that was recently made available to certain BSR-tuned Saabs. This morning I got the full story in my inbox from the guy here in Oz who owns a recent model Saab with a BSR tuning upgrade.

I’m really interested in this as it’s a system I’m thinking of using for my Viggen later in the year. the simplicity of it all, as you’ll read in a moment, is quite beautiful. And that’s before you get to the POWER!!

Here’s the story:


My late model 9-3 has the base 1.8t engine, 110kW/240Nm, which is an eager revver and pleasantly torquey. It provides surprisingly unruffled progress at half-throttle and the 5speed auto keeps it on the boil by maintaining the revs in the sweet spot. As nice and pleasant as it is, even performing well with a load of passengers, it is no performance engine in its stock tune.

Flattening the throttle results in an eager scream that’s embarrassingly out of proportion to actual acceleration. When one hears a European car screaming as keenly as that, they would usually expect that it be at its peak power and torque. In this case the torque has well and truly left the building, leaving the power to simply make a lot of noise. Incidentally both the 1.8t and 2.0t (129kW/265Nm) engines are identical mechanically. They just have different states of tune. The detuned nature of the 1.8t engine is abundantly apparent and really feels like it has so much more in it that’s being reigned in.

After six months of biding my time, I found the resources to get hold of a BSR PPC Stage 1, which would take the 1.8t or 2.0t engines to 152kW/310Nm (manual, 20Nm less for auto). The beauty of the upgrade is that the PPC tuning box is simply plugged into the diagnostics port under the dash. You press some buttons and in about 3 minutes the job is done. After the agonising wait for the parcel to arrive and the usual customs clearance issues I got the box one wet night. I plugged it in, followed the provided instructions (these must be taken very seriously), selected “Tune Car” and watched as the tuner’s in-built timer counted the minutes. Finally the message came up “Unplug PPC”.

I packed it quickly away and hit the road for a 5 minute spin in the wet, and spin it did. Whereas before the torque struggled to ignite the tyres, now they would wildly scramble for grip before the TCS kicked in. On the first proper stretch of open road I gave it a boot-full and, as thunder and lightning crackled around me, felt like Frankenstein unleashing his monster. The car was totally transformed and absolutely punched me in the back. There is nothing like this initial post-tuning experience.

I have de-tuned (plug it in again, select “Return to Original”) and re-tuned the car since and again the transformation took me by surprise. Like any great Saab, the in-gear acceleration is where it’s at. After slowing for a round-about, blasting out the other side is massive fun again and again. Likewise overtaking is no longer such an exercise in risk-assessment. Medium throttle applications result in deceptively swift and solid acceIeration.

I now run 98RON fuel and, as BSR promises, get excellent fuel economy with long distance travel often averaging under 7.5l/100km across complete round trips with it dropping down to 6.9l/100 while on a flat road at 110km/h with cruise-control. Obviously BSR tuning of a 2.0T or 2.8T engine will yield even more smiles per throttle but I am happy enough that my engine performance is pretty much on par with (though possibly more aggressive than) the 2003-05 Aero yet has a smaller but extremely eager turbo.

Well I WAS happy enough.

BSR has a software feature called PPC Sync which allows a user to plug their PPC into their computer via USB and check for downloads and updates. Last week I got wondering as to whether there were any newer states of tune available for download. I didn’t have to wonder long as I received an email newsletter on Friday. It had good news for Saab owners with new states of tune having been developed for sale to new customers and available for download by existing customers. They had gone over the 1.8t/2.0t engine and managed to find another 8kW and 20Nm.

After some hassles due to not reading the manual properly it took me a further 10minutes or so to BSR Sync and download the new tune. Last night I took my PPC full of extra kW and plugged in, pressed “Tune Car” and took off for a spin. It is hard to gauge the improvements with the bum-ometer but the car felt very strong and didn’t seem to drop off so noticeably at high revs. Likewise, it surged strongly after each gear change and certainly feels impressive. I expect I will get more of a feel for it after driving a few of my normal routes.

I’ll keep you posted.


For those of you that aren’t used to the whole kW (kilowatt) thing, let me translate that for you:

The original 110kW present in the stock 1.8t engine was aound 150hp.

After the initial BSR tune, this was lifted to 152kW – this is around 205hp.

Now, with an extra 8kW to 160kW, we’re looking at a car with around 215hp.

That’s a pretty decent upgrade in performance (43% more hp) for the A$1,200 or so that the BSR ppc unit costs. Factor in the plug-n-play nature and the fact that you can switch it back to factory settings when the conditions warrant it and you can see why I’m planning on most likely going this route later in the year.


Elkparts, long-time supporters of this site and providers of service that’s renowned from Buckingham Palace to Burundi, have a wide range of BSR tunes available. You can check out their BSR product page to see if there’s a BSR tune to suit your model.

BSR also have their own website for those interested in checking out their full range of products (they don’t just tune Saabs) as well as learning a little more about the company.

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  1. I wait at the front door each day in the hope mine will arrive….alas I wait in vain.

    (yes I know it’s only been a week but I’m impatient!)

  2. Have we really come that far in terms of power output? The old c900s with Bosch injection and red apc box produced 137kW, with Lucas injected cars producing 150kW.
    Is 152kW really so much to rave on about some 15 years down the track?


  3. Drew, I’m in a crappy enough mood tonight to bite.

    First you’d have to find one of those rare hens teeth Lucas 900s, and then modify it as you suggest. Then your top-of-the-line 900 T16S from the 90’s may well indeed match the performance of this base model 9-3 with 1 upgrade.

    Apples with apples.

    Taking a car from 110kW to 152kW for around $1200 is a fair thing to be happy about, I reckon.

  4. 900T Lucas FI: about AU$6000
    Redbox APC: about AU$250
    Fitting time: about 30 mins
    Output: about 200 HP

    Classic style: priceless

  5. Manual Boost controller: $60
    Dyno to dial MBC just before fuel cut out: $60

    Classic 900 output afterwards 210

    Bulk Ace


  6. got all the necessary steering mods done already turbin so i’m looking forward to seeing if i can regain some torque-steer as it’s basically all gone atm

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