Sorting out the Black Turbo

Various bits of info have come to hand in the last few weeks and I think it’s time to sort out what the Black Turbo IS and then deal with the various comments and speculation in the Black Turbo News post from last night.

So – what it is.

It appears that the Turbo X will be the launchpad vehicle for the new XWD system. It will feature the eLSD as standard (this is a big thing) and the 2.8l V6 tuned to 280hp. My mail is that it will also have 19″ wheels and various body and interior trim changes and it’ll be limited to 2,000 units that’ll most likely sell out very quickly.

As covered at the 2008 Saab 9-3 launch, this XWD system is brand new and gives the car brilliant handling characteristics. Saab’s own testing, and I assume it was conducted in conjunction with Haldex (but that’s my assumption) showed that through a standard slalom handling test the car was quicker and more stable through the course than a bunch of performance cars, including a Porsche.

Now, to the various bits of misinformation out there…..

The Black Turbo News posting from last night drew a lot of comments and there’s little doubt that most people were disappointed at the news that this car is going to be held at 280hp. Furthermore, there seems to be more disappointment that this car doesn’t appear to be the Saab supercar that many were hoping for.

Me included.

And further to that, there’s some words starting to fly around that I invented the now-apparently-mythical Black Turbo here on Trollhattan Saab.

So let’s all take a collective breath and deal with this.

1) THE ORIGIN OF “BLACK TURBO”

The name and potential spec of the Black Turbo project was first mentioned on a Swedish Saab forum. The guy who first posted this also posted some info about the 2008 Saab 9-3, all of which turned out to be correct. The only thing that was posted by him that turned out to be incorrect was the claim of it having more than 280hp.

2) THE TRUTH OF THE BLACK TURBO

That was the first reference to the name “Black Turbo”. Given that this person obviously had some inside contact and had referred to it by name that way, I also referred to it that way. Subsequent communications that I had with other people with inside knowledge, limited as it was, also referred to it that way.

At the Saab Festival dinner on Saturday the 9th of June I had a brief chat with Jan-Ake Jonsson and I jokingly asked if there was any significance in him being picked up from his hotel in a black Saab 9-3 (i.e. a black turbo). I asked if there was anything he could tell me about a “black turbo” and he laughed the laugh of a man knowing that he was being plied for information he was never going to give. At the end of our chat, which took in discussion of all the previous cars he’d owned, he laughed again as he told me “no more questions about Black Turbo, ok?”

Then there’s the chat I had with the Saab inside person when I asked about the software governing this car. I’m pretty sure I’m right in recalling that we both referred to this as “Black Turbo”.

So the Black Turbo didn’t start here at Trollhattan Saab. I picked it up and ran with it. Sure. but it didn’t start here.

3) WHERE IT WENT ‘WRONG’

The ‘wrong’ part of this is in reference to the fact that the Turbo X will only have 280hp rather than the rumoured 300+.

Well, there’s the initial Black Turbo posting on the Swedish forum that was mentioned above. There were plenty of other discussions around the traps of such a power boost as well. Then there was that chat I had with a Saab insider during my time in Sweden about the ECU software. All of these seemed to build upon the belief that there was going to be a 300-plus offering in the making.

When the press got their look at the XWD SportCombi starting on June 11, it was mentioned that the XWD version of the car would be a step above the standard 2WD Aero and tuned to 280hp. Given that there was never, in any of the talk about Black Turbo, an inference that it was going to be the standard for the initial release it was pretty fair to continue believing that the Aero XWD would have 280hp and the limited edition Black Turbo would have more.

There was nothing to suggest otherwise.

In fact, Saab’s own releases on the 2008 state that the 280hp engine is exclusive to the Aero version of the car:

Saab XWD, an active all;-wheel-drive system, is available on Aero variants, together with an uprated 280 hp/ 206 kW 2.8V6 turbo engine. It offers enhanced driver involvement and control in all road conditions. The Haldex multi-plate clutch unit infinitely varies engine torque between the front and rear axles, and an optional rear limited-slip differential can transfer torque between the rear drive shafts.

And there’s also this…..

All-aluminum 2.8-liter turbo engine. The first six cylinder unit to be purpose-built for Saab’s turbocharged application. Offering 280 hp (206 kW) or 255 hp (188 kW), it combines multi-cylinder refinement with outstanding turbo performance. Single, twin-scroll turbocharger fed by both cylinder banks. Exclusive to top-of-the-range Aero variants.

From that, both I and the mainstream motoring press assumed that the XWD system would be available on the Aero model first, with it tuned to 280hp, and that XWD would trickle down to other variants within the 9-3 range in due course.

The release doesn’t mention a special version with 19″ wheels, or upgraded trim, or a limited production run. It just mentions a 280hp Aero version with XWD.

Is this not therefore grounds to believe that the Black Turbo would still be something more?

DESPITE THIS….

Some commenters were having a rant at Saab for promising one thing and disappointing them. Read this and read it well: Saab never promised or even acknowledged officially that a project with an internal name of Black Turbo ever existed.

It may have been referred to on the quiet by a number of people, but Saab themselves, as a company, never promised you anything.

The Black Turbo was discovered and written about by a number of well-meaning people who, as it turns out, have overstepped in terms of what this car might deliver. One of them happens to be me.

If having 280hp in the launch vehicle is something you feel you must shake your fist at, then shake it at me.

Whether Saab should be building a 300hp-plus variant of this car is perhaps a subject for another post.

THE WASH

What’s emerged in the last few weeks is that whilst the Black Turbo, or the Turbo-X as it will be known, will be the noted launchpad for Saab’s XWD system. It will be a limited edition of 2,000 vehicles. As mentioned before it will be kitted out specially but still held to the same 280hp as the Aero mentioned in Saab’s own press material.

It appears that the initial talk of a 300hp-plus version, in the absence of anything to the contrary and in the presence of plenty of supporting discussion, grew to the point where neither I, nor you, didn’t see the fact that it may not have been what it seemed.

For my part in that, I apologise. I hope the basic review above of the climate surrounding the Black Turbo will give you an accurate assessment of how things went down.

THE FUTURE

I’ll try and refrain from too much speculation here, but let me just say that those having huge rants on the 280hp maximum on this car might be going a little overboard.

It looks like the Turbo-X will be kitted out with killer limited edition looks and equipment, and it will feature the full Haldex system including the electronic limited slip diff. This will be an option on the standard XWD car when it becomes available.

So what we’ll be getting, whilst being 20hp shy of what people wanted (me included) for the purposes of making “that statement”, will still be one brilliant vehicle.

I can live with that.

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54 Comments

  1. …sooooo……. we have an ‘appearance package’ for the launch, with no actual mechanical, structural, or electronic differences compared to a loaded Aero?

    You go Saab, milk that Chevy connection for all it’s worth — make use of their marketing brilliance as well.

    Come on guys. What happened, more budget cuts by Papa G.M.?

  2. I’d suggest we wait and see the full mechanical spec of the Turbo X when it’s released to see how it might differ from the Aero, loaded or otherwise. That’ll probably be in January.

    But if you had a fully loaded XWD Aero, would that be disappointing in any way?

  3. It would be disappointing only in that it would make a ‘special edition’ Turbo-X not at all special. There substantial differences between a Viggen and an SE. The SE is a fine car but a Viggen isn’t an SE with big wheels and different trim.

  4. Don’t take any of it personal, Swade. Everyone has pre-conceived notions and speculations. You’ve been on the ball with most of them and, if you weren’t, you were spot-on as to how it should be!!

    I’ll forgive you on this one 😛

  5. Swade, let me start of my saying that implicating you of starting the Black Turbo rumour is wrong and ignorant. For X’s sake, people – don’t shoot the messenger!

    Still, I am deeply disappointed by the news. Whether I would actually get a 320 hp Black Turbo if it were true is a separate matter, but for all it’s worth the fact that I cannot get one even if I wanted sucks.

    Your question is rhetorical, Swade: Saab should be building a 300+ hp car if they care about staying in the game, and judging by the responses to the previous posting – if they care about pleasing their hardcore fans.

    There are going to be people who will now tell us that hp is nothing and that 280 is not bad at all and that Saab has a different value system and so forth – all true statements, indeed.

    Nonetheless, reading eveyone’s opinions, it seems to me that a 300+ hp Black Turbo was what people wanted – and Saab didn’t deliver the goods. Short and sweet like that.

    And just a sidenote for all you smart-heads sending the performance-hungry to Hirsch: these updates are not officially distributed in North America (oh, was that not Saab’s largest market by any chance?); installing a kit on your car voids the warranrty.

    And why would anyone do that if they could simply walk into an Audi, BMW, or Mercedes-Benz dealership and get an RS4, M3, or an AMG’ed C-class?

    And was it not that the whole point lies in attracting those buyers over to Saab?

    Which makes me think: does Saab Automobile AB even know what its goals are?

  6. [clapping hands for Kroum]

    Exactly, on all points.

    Either beat/equal the competition, or take a completely different track and win that way.

    Let’s put this in terms my boss would use: What are you offering new or different that people _will_pay_money_for_??

  7. booo!!

    i talked to a saab salesman and he somewhat acknnowledged 300+hp 9-3 later in the future…

    does anyone think it’s possible the plug got pulled?

  8. A nice round 300hp is a current “magic number” for entry into the sports/peformance sedan market. How hard would it have been to add an extra 25 hp? Even the misbegotten but capable little 9-2x could easily have been made to top 300hp. Stop fooling aroound GM, either beat/equal the competition or today’s tough market will continue to easily equal and beat you.

  9. Swade,

    I’m sorry if I seemed to imply that you invented the “Black Turbo”. You didn’t, that is clear. Unfortunately though, your enthusiastic reporting of all things Saab gave it wings. Now we have alot of friends here who are upset that the reportage is not the reality. That sort of thing is going to happen, but don’t let that dilute our optimism that Saab has a great future.

    There is all sorts of talk here (you in particular Kroum) that Saab should be taking on the M3, RS4, C63 etc. Here in Aus. those are cars that are more than twice the price of a loaded Aero!!! Have a sense of perspective, please. For the price that the Black Turbo is likely to cost, I guess approx. $80k here, you cannot even buy the Merc C280 which starts at $85k, add $12k for the AMG sports package.

    And before somebody starts to beat me on the head with more power figures, I had a 350hp DOHC V8 Ford before my Sportcombi and it cost about the same and could pull 6sec 0-100km all day. My SAAB feels better to drive, more of a piece, is better built, quieter, more comfortable and no less fun!

    How about getting your butts into an Aero XWD drive before talking it down. For that matter how many of the commentators here have driven the current Aero?? Not me, would I love it? Yes.

  10. May I just add, who cares!!! By beafing up my Viggen with a stage 1 BSR upgrade I’m getting around town a whole 2 seconds quicker than I would have normally, albeit with a wholw lot more kick. BSR and associated tuners will have an upgrade b4 too long and that, I’m sure, will push the turbo-X well beyond 320HP. All smiles 🙂

  11. Turbin, you are entirely missing my point here. Saab wants to compete and draw customers away from the Big 3 Deutsch brands and become profitable: if it wants to, it needs to “grow some nuts”, as Adam put it. Seriosuly.

    You and I would buy Saabs because we appreciate the brand and have grown to like them better than any other offering out there. But the very vast majority of people have no connection with Saab whatsoever. They look at what they get for their dollar and go with the best deal. For the amount of money one would spend on a 9-3 Aero you could get a nice Inifinity G35 with 300 hp and then some, and most people will think you got a cool car (it ain’t a bad one either!).

    I’m sorry to inform you all that brand-perception is based on top-of-the-line products. Saab’s main competitors sell many vehicles thanks to the allure of their their top models. Saab? They simply lack any top-of-the-line models. Everyone loved the Aero-X, but we ain’t gonna build it because Jon-Ake doesn’t have the guts to go to GM Europe and ask for the friggin’ cash or hand in his resignation. Saab was built on principles, and now everyone seems to be full of excuses why this and that happened… But nobody wants to take responsibility for all the failures.

    Richo, Saab’s biggest market is the U.S. There are no performance upgrades in the U.S. market and if you install one on your leased or financed car it voids the warranty. The Black Turbo was exciting because it offered all this straight from Saab, warranty included, no tricks.

    Saab is missing out once again, and this worries me. KIll or be killed.

  12. Having followed GM for a few years, let me just say that this exact thing has happened, oh, about a thousand times, and I don’t blame Swade at all for what happened here. Frankly, I blame the Saab insiders that kept hinting to Swade about a 300 hp car. Sure, it sucks that it’s not happening, but, in the long run, it doesn’t matter. The extra 20 horses would knock off, what, like an extra .2 seconds off of the 0 – 60 times? Who’d pay for that, besides rich nuts who just need THEIR Lambourghini to go just a tad faster than the neighbor’s Lambourghini. Anyway, here’s another way to see it: The Viggen wasn’t around for the first year of the 9-3, so it’s not like there’s no chance of a super hi-po version in a few years, maybe in 2011 when the NEW new 9-3 is debuted.

  13. Chevy connection? I would have to assume that is some sort of reference to the Epsilon derived Malibu Maxx SS package and Chevy’s sloppy habit of slapping the SS badge on everything it builds/built?

    I am sure there are plenty of people out there that might ‘want’ a 300 – 320hp Black Turbo, but how many would actually be able to get their hands on one if it is going to be a low volume car and would they even drive the car if they paid a premium price for it (and they probably would pay a ‘dealer markup’)? Most collectors just sit on those things.

    Would the car bring more traffic into a Saab showroom? I don’t know about that either – but that is the more important question. Most automakers build things like that to get people into their dealers to (hopefully) get some public exposure and sell more cars.

    Anniversary and limited edition models are great for the Car and Driver/Motor Trend crowd IMHO, but none of them ever seem to own one…

    And is 320hp really better than 280hp? Maybe on paper, but the everyday driver knows torque is where it is at, because that is what we drive. Sure it is fun to mash the throttle down on occasion, twist the tachometer off the dial, and drive some of that high RPM horsepower but when you have got even 280hp on tap – those are going to be some short lived moments.

    So, kudos to Saab/GM if they build the car, and even better if we see it on the cover of a magazine – because that is where it needs to be – even if it is nothing more than a trim package. The 9-3 is an impressive car to begin with and the cleverly named XWD system with a higher output V6 is a great/addition marketing move in itself.

  14. This is a great thread and the good news is that everyone is correct here IMHO.

    Kroum is dead right that Saab could have definitely used a higher spec machine to turn some heads in the S4 and M3 crowd. I think there’s a full post in that, and it’ll come soon.

    But by the same token, usable power at 280hp is more than most people need both in their day to day life and even on a track day. As Tedjs mentions, if this car gets on some magazine covers (and it may well due to the XWD system) then that’s going to drum up the interest in a big way.

    Despite the lack of post-3 numerology, this IS going to be a heck of a car. The big news with it will be the handling and as someone’s pointed out to me via email, power is nothing without handling.

  15. swade,

    Thanks for sharing the latest info on the Black Turbo and having the best damn Saab blog ever. I – for one – am not going to shed a single tear over 20 hp one way or the other. 280 hp and XWD with eLSD will do just fine. I am interested in the mechanicals of the Turbo X, and I hope it is more than badging or ^$*#@! carbon fiber mucking up a clean Scandinavian interior (keep that crap in MBs, BMWs, and Audis).

    Also, let the name games begin. Will “Turbo-X” be pronounced “Turbo Echs” or “Turbo Cross” as in XWD / Cross Wheel Drive?

  16. Hey Richo, was it worth the wait then ??? I’ve been looking forward to gate some news on how’s it going with your BSR holiday dramas. It seems you got the goods working now….and you are 100% rigth with your comments. Once the X series is all out and settled wait for the ECU upgrades, they will fly !!!

  17. What I’d like to know is what Saab have done to get the 280hp. A BSR tune on the 2.8T maxes out at 285hp but 480Nm. What hardware changes does the 280hp unit have and how will the tuners make use of them?

  18. Saab needs a halo car and the 300+hp Black Turbo could be it. The crown on the griffin. The car people talk about, dream about, and go to the showroom to see. That’s when people will realize that a lower model looks just like it, smells just like it, and to 99% of the population, is the same car. But with lower payments and better gas mileage.

    That’s why there are M’s, (were) R’s, S’s, and V’s (sorry) in the competition’s model lineups. IMO, the Aero line has been diluted because the performance doesn’t measure up to the competition. I would equate it to “Sport” or “S-Line”…and that’s being generous.

    By no increasing power and performance over the “standard” Aero, SAAB is diluting the new line before it is even born (from accountants and lawyers?).

    Altitude Edition anyone?

  19. 280hp. Okay, that should be enough for most of us. But there´s car magazines doing their comparisons and the max output has straight effect to 0-100km/h time and also topspeed. But these are not the facts that everyday driver normally thinks about. So, in my opinion 280hp is just enough. Make the car look good and handle better than it´s predecessors. Then it would be a big hit. One thing I´d really like to know is that what about the fuel consumption of 280hp XWD 9-3? There´s no comparable values shown yet? Assuming that higher output will raise consumption and also XWD even a bit more. I really wish they´d make a TTiD XWD car right from the beginning.. doh..

    And more about the Turbo X output, think of Saab 900 SPG. At first it was 5 hp more and sideskirts, then later 15hp over regular turbo.
    That´s not much, but still it´s one heck of a car don´t you think?!

  20. I like a good conspiracy so I’m going to believe what someone theorized in a comment in the prior thread on the subject:

    SAAB figured-out that nobody’s going to want the new 9-5 in two years if the 9-3 Turbo-X can outperform it. So they reduced the spec. Remember when we were discussing just a couple of weeks ago how BMW seems to have gotten themselves into trouble by releasing an M3 that doesn’t justify its price premium over the 335i?

    I would think that a 300+ hp Turbo-X would be in the same price range as the 9-5. SAAB doesn’t need its models cannibalizing from each other.

    My opinion on this doesn’t matter as I would never buy a Turbo-X, but I find it interesting that some of the people up-in-arms about the Turbo-X “only” having 280 hp in comments at this site could never hope to afford the car anyway. Whose opinion matters is the target customer for the Turbo-X. If you want to dream over a SAAB supercar, that’s what the Aero-X is for. 🙂

  21. the thing is, soon after release there will (probably) be aftermarket kits that make your ordinary 9-3 look like a BlackTurbo. same thing happend to the Viggen, theres heaps of cosmetic Viggens in Sweden.

  22. Kroum hits it right on the nose.

    280hp is fine, and I love the new 9-3 more than any car in its class, not because its a saab, that I can care less about, but because it is a true competitor, and outstanding value dollar for dollar.
    It’s just having a halo car is more than just side skirts and new leather, etc. It should at least have a hp bump. 295 would have been inspiring too. But I’m not gonna be saddened by it. I’m just concerned of 3 things:
    1. Will the 9-5 be ultimately affected negatively?
    2. Will the new weight of the XWD negatively affect the performance of the car also?
    3. The price premium over the Aero.

    As Kroum noted, it is all about brand perception being directly related to Halo vehicles. If you never in your life heard about saab and know nothing about it, which sounds more enticing for a Halo car (if you can or cannot afford it). A 280hp version or a 300hp car. THAT is the arguement about the car, and the perception of the 9-3 as seen as fierce.

    Either way, I am extremely happy for Saab, and think the new 9-3 is above average, hell, AMAZING!! 280hp is enough for daily drivers. (but many m3s, RS4’s and such arent exactly daily drivers, but weekend rush vehicles, I guess my, and others, perception of the vehicle was to BE with that coup of the above cloud of cars.
    All in all, great discussion and cheers to swade for clearing things up. And no, it wasn’t your fault, not even slightly…

  23. Swade,

    Maybe it’s me that’s getting old now, but have you actually written a proper review of the 08 Aero XWD? I know you gave a quick summary of the drive experience but you are the only person around here that has actually driven it. You wrote about handling but not so much about power, torque and acceleration.

    Was it enough? Ample? Not enough?

  24. Gripen has the point!
    The 9-5 Aero was always the flagship of Saab, including power.
    Even the Viggen is sporting the same power as the top 9-5 had in it’s model year.

    Furthermore, let me remind all of you, folks, that it’s not enough to pull the HP over 300, it should work without failures.
    The current Saab models are mentioned usually as a medium or low reliability car.
    My opinion is that it’s much more important to work on improving this derogated image and build a solid, reliable car than the wacky race to step over the magic 300 limit.

  25. Oh, I forgot: before I have bought my Viggen, it was the demo car of the local Nordic dealer with 300+ HP.
    I could buy it also as it was, but the owner offered it me also with a “light” Stage 1 upgrade (250 HP/390 Nm) and I decided to buy the lighter version.
    I’m really happy with it and my experience is that it’s faster than the 95% of the cars around.
    It is a good balance between the high power and the acceptable maintenance cost and life-span of the engine.
    The previous owner (a friend of mine, Anti) drives a 300+ HP 9-5 Aero (MY 2004) and he usually push it to the limits, on the speedways of Germany his cruising speed is over 220 km/h, he had to do some major repairs within one year because the extreme stress of the engine.

  26. Some of the comment I have seen here about this has just been horrible. It just amazes me they way people argue and what conclusions they draw just because of this. The car isn’t out yet, and still you blame Saab for letting you down and having you go buy other cars instead? Well, by all means do that. They win more customers than they loose in Europe by staying below 300 bhp… And I can’t remember a single comment about the 900 vert being an icon in the U.S. because of the bhp.

    You all want Saab to keep Swedish heritage, then you want them to join the German bhp war? You blame GM for messing Saab up with influences from other brands/cultures, and then want them to do something that has nothing at all to do with Saab heritage? I don’t get it. How many of you are Swedish, live in Sweden, and have grown up with Saab as a natural part of the everyday life in Sweden? Saab has never ever been about bhp. Not even Volvo has ever been about bhp, that’s why they ditched the R models and now only offers R-design without engine or suspension improvement. Those R models that are out there for sure don’t do the brand any good; probably the opposite…

    You talk about how important Audi S-models or BMW M-series are to the buyers. Well, maybe in America. Audi last year sold 14.000 cars in Sweden. I can guarantee you that 98% of those buyers didn’t know or didn’t care about the S-models. Audi buyers are everyday people with house, children and a dog. Those who bought the S-models just wanted a hoon-mobile. The same with BMW M-series. There is no prestige in Sweden in driving a M-serie.

    Some buyers will want even more bhp than Saab offer. Fine. Buy a tuning kit or buy a Hirsch improved car. Some comment(s) mentioned that nobody knows about chip trim, Hirsch and so on… Well, maybe that’s because they buyers don’t care? Those who do surely know about this. 70% of the 9-5 sale in Sweden are corporate sale. Do you think they care about bhp? Saab probably exist today because the BioPower and the environmentally friendly image. Saab is about doing something different, not just follow the trail with stone age technology.

  27. Just trying to think of something cool to write about black turbos and horsepower……….Think its been covered by now……

    What’s everyone think of the Spanish guy who won Le Tour?

  28. PT: Don’t know… Didn’t think le Tour was to be clean this year either, so I’m not putting any money on him beeing the real winner. I hade my hope on Cadel Evans.

  29. Dont forget that this is only a 2000 limited run of the car.

    Let Saab go nuts just for the 2000 people that do want a high powered Saab straight out of the box without fannying about with 3rd party tuners.

    I do understand that most people dont want such a performance car, but there are a few that do (such as me).

  30. No, ctm. My position, at least, is more nuanced. GM moved Saab away from its quirky roots to be more mainstream. That being the case, committing to competing on equal terms in the mainstream would make sense.

    However, should GM want to take Saab in an independent direction (and let Caddy play the hp game) then I want to see something else leading and notable. XWD is nice, but about 7 years late. Where is my plug-in ethanol hybrid? Where is my composite structure? What ever happened to the variable compression engine?

    A good point was made that perhaps high hp hurts more than helps in some markets. Okay, well then let’s lead somewhere and get known for something. As I’ve said before, what new value are they offering that nobody else is? What are they offering that will make people want to pay money?

    Another good point was made about reliability. Absolutely. But I don’t recall any mention of improved reliability as part of the press releases, although that would be the most welcome development of all.

    And I apologize if I’ve been a downer and/or lashing out. But it’s just so painful to me to see what I feel is the fade-out of what historically had been an intelligent and proud builder.

  31. BioPower friends!! Dunno if it was said before, but just compare the 2.oT outputs 175hp on 91/95 to 200 on E85- so what do we get from 280HP runing on Petrol?? Jup 320HP… I’m somehow convinced that we will get right this!! At least there’s hope left 😉

  32. Rayman – id love it to be a Biopower car. But i think the plan falls down with the V6 using a Bosch fuel system, whereas all the biopower cars use the clever Trionic jobby.

  33. I have the V6 Aero vert at the moment with 250bhp, and it certainly needs a little more power. I think 280bhp will be just right for the chassis and XWD will be a good way to contain it.

    The thing that worries me more than the lack of 300bhp is the fact that the gearbox is unable to handle more than 400Nm of twist (torque for those who don’t know).

    More power is meaningless without the Torque to go with it, look at the RX8 as an example, and the new M3 is currently being slated for its lack of torque.

    The torque curve needs to be as flat as possible too. There is no point have oodles of torque if through 90% of the rev range one only has access to about half of it, same with bhp too, but to a lesser extent.

    I hope that eLSD option isn’t going to be too expensive.

    Methinks one of those BSR tuning kits will be on my shopping list before long :).

  34. I’m also wondering and hoping there will be a BioPower option for the Aero XWD, I would definitely tick that box. Heck, the boost in power may very well take it to the 300bhp mark as well.

    Anyway, if the Black Turbo turns out to be lighter with bespoke suspension settings then the fact it doesn’t have 300bhp isn’t such a bad thing.

  35. Kaz, Check out Regal tuning. They’re getting 300bhp from the Vectra VXR with just software a update and are happy to have apply it to the Saab.

  36. jwlanky: Thanks for the tip, unfortunately, I need a device I am able to use on a regular basis, as my vehicle rotates on a short term lease scheme. It changes every 6 months or so.

  37. Great comment ctm!

    I’m sure that the Turbo X will sell faster than the whiners can shout “Black Turbo”, and I suspect that true Saab enthusiasts will be the buyers. The bhp junkies can go buy boring German cars…

    ps: I also agree about Cadel Evans 😉

  38. Kaz, A BSR ppc will good for one car and one car only. After that its a nice paper weight.

    Arild, i suppose i fall into the category of a ‘whiner’ as im somewhat dissaponted that in the rumoured figures. But please do define a ‘true Saab enthusiast’?

  39. jwlanky, yup, but that is the same for any upgrade it seems. Some direct communication with them will be in order, and thankfully, I have a few contacts in the tuning industry who should be able to sort me out with one that is able to keep on upgrading each car I have.

    Would have to downgrade before returning each vehicle as well, as part of the lease deal.

  40. This is my first posting on this site but one I felt I wanted to add. I was a certified Saab nut for 10+ years, I owned 4 Saab’s until 2004 when I jumped ship to try a Acura TL, after 18 months I traded it in on a Mazdaspeed6, a very capable car with AWD and 280bhp but a tad rough around the edges……so imagine my delight when I was talking to my old Saab buddy in March of this year,who incidentally had just come back from Sweden, and he reported the following info to me.
    Black Turbo for delivery in Mar 08 (Canada)
    313 bhp, 316 lb/ft torque Turbo V6
    6 speed gearbox, Haldex AWD (XWD)
    19″ Rims, Twin Exhaust.
    To say I was excited would be an understatement, I miss driving Saab’s, my last Saab was a 2001 9-5 Aero, Black on Black, an excellent car with the exception of the dreaded FWD+Deep snow+TCS=stuck in own driveway syndrome….The Mazdaspeed6 gives me the best of all worlds but I would trade it in without hesitation for a 2008 Saab 9-3 “Black Turbo”…….but If it turns out that it’s nothing more than a tarted up 9-3 Aero at a $5000 premium then I’ll be playing the wait and see game.
    Cheers, Manumad

  41. I don’t have much to add. The response here indicates there is real pent-up demand for a S4 or M3 equivalent Saab. I don’t know about Sweden, but Saab’s brand image here in the U.S. includes high performance (in fact you could argue that Saab laid the groundwork for the S4/M3 class in the ’80’s, with the pricey, but worth it, c900 turbo.) Indeed, the implied promise of “Born from Jets” is high performance.

    If having a low volume, 300+ hp one-time only specialty performance version would hurt Saab sales in Europe, then don’t sell it in Europe. Such a model would very helpful in the U.S. in turning around the perceptions of the press and the public about Saab.

    It’s all about big numbers here. It seems like every other issue of Car & Driver has an article on the latest Lingenfelter-modified 750+ hp Corvette, or the 500+ hp Shelby Mustang, etc., etc.

    The way to square that circle, between European sensibilities and American lust for horsepower, is to use BioPower for the high performance model.

    Anecdotally I can tell you that I would have bought a Black Turbo if it were more than a body kit and included-eLSD, although by rights I shouldn’t be in the market for a new car for another 2 years. Now I’m back to waiting to see what the next 9-5 looks like — and by that time, I might also be looking to wait to see what the next 9-3 looks like.

    After years of making false promises to the faithful that the next great thing is just around the corner, Saab absolutely needs to deliver something really big, right now.

    In that sense the Black Turbo is a failure. It is yet another missed opportunity from a brand that specializes in them.

  42. I guess I’ll say it again since it seems to have slipped through the cracks somehow …

    BSR already offers a kit for the current 2.8T that allows for the use of E85 and produces 320hp/520Nm …

    http://en.bsrab.se/products/t1160

    I bring this up to point out a few things:
    1) Motronic can be tuned to handle E85 mixtures
    2) Considering BSR warrantees their tuned engines against defect or damage (Swedish customers only), one would have to believe the mill is certainly capable of handling this sort of power without major concern

  43. Folks, don’t blame Saab.
    Who do you know from where this decision came? Maybe GM has restricted it.
    Actually, the trend is that Opel/Vauxhall enjoying a better care from GM than Saab. The current Vectra OPC models are sporting with a 275 BHP 2.8V6, the same engine which has only 255 BHP in Saab 9-3 Aero!
    Why? Why they pull up a definitely not premium class car (even it’s a top performance model of the model line) to significantly higher than the premium class 9-3 Aero?
    Maybe the same lobby worked against the Black Turbo.
    I will not wonder if the next Vectra OPC will be issued with a 300+ BHP version of the 2.8 V6, mark my words! 🙁

  44. Opel’s OPC are for hoons (or “raggare”) that are running around all evening outside the local burger joint in their little town, doing burn-outs and showing of their blue lights under the car.

    When I think of premium, I think of good design, heads-up display, quality materiel, nice stereo, top safety, electronis aids… It’s not all about bhp.

  45. Ctm, despite I agree – it seems to me a kind of “conspiracy” that allows higher performance version of the same engine in a Opel/Vauxhall than a top Saab 9-3.

  46. I have a 300HP sports sedan right now (another marque) and while having that power on tap is great and all on some occasions, rarely am I able to drive the car at even 7/10 of the performance. I think SAAB is going to be just fine at 280HP with XWD, and probably keep the EPA (fuel economy) ratings a bit lower. For sure there will be aftermarket bits that will take it up to and likely beyond 300HP. Remember, HP sells cars, torque wins races, if racing is what you are about.

  47. Jc_atl says: “Remember, HP sells cars, torque wins races, if racing is what you are about.”

    That has been my point all along; well put! Unfortunately, Saab is not seen as a race car company anymore, and they desperately need to sell more cars, so there.

  48. I’m not necessarily for or against the Turbo-X sporting a specific hp number, since many of those numbers are suspect anyway.

    But I definitely agree that BioPower is the way to pump up those numbers.

    I’m amazed that Saab still hasn’t introduced its BioPower lineup in the US (which is still ethanol-crazy…Mexican farmers are digging up their agave to plant more maize!). A LOT of the new vehicles I see here on the road in Louisiana sport their little E85 or FlexFuel badge.

    I can’t think of a better way to introduce the American public to the TRUE performance potential of E85 than with a high-performance, AWD, excellent-handling, safe, sexy and desirable sport sedan like the Turbo-X.

    It’ll have Turbo-X on one side of the boot and a big green/yellow BioPower badge on the other.

  49. Saab – 130,000 cars a year with heavy losses for the last 10-15 years.

    Opel/Vauxhall – 1,500,000 cars a year making a profit.

    I don’t think it’s a conspiracy. There are people at GM that see Opel as a very good thing worth investing in. We are sometimes blinded by the love of our own brand. I would love more investments in Saab, but there is a corporate reality and I’m glad Saab is still here (and glad it’s not p4wN3d by Zing Chong Motors Corp., Shanghai). Money talks. Things will come, but it will be slower since it have to cover it’s own costs.

  50. ctm,
    I don’t think that it’s because of the investment. The fact is that the 275 HP engine was ready almost a year ago (and I’m pretty shure that mostly Saab engineers did it) but it started to sell in the Vectra.
    I also pretty sure that the difference is mostly the engine management software. So, it makes no correspondense for me with the investment.

  51. Ivan,

    True… I know to little about the specs of the Opel models. Even though they share the same platform, maybe it has to do with something else that makes it unsuitable to raise the bhp? Maybe due to Saab being E85 friendly?

    Also (even if I’m no expert), I get the feeling that GM are pushing OPC as the same thing for Opel as the M-series are for BMW – that is, a different car altogehter. But that the Aero for Saab is just one of three (or five) ways to tailor the standard car? In that way, they would have a hard time pushing OPC if a “standard” Saab hade the same engine with the same bhp. Just a thought…

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