Saab Turbo-X: Why those 20hp don’t matter so much

I wrote a piece earlier today about how an extra 20hp would have been very handy for the Saab Turbo-X. These extra 20 horses would have put it at 300hp and muffled some of the needless criticism that’s already started to come.

This article will hopefully give you a better insight as to why those 20 extra horses shouldn’t really matter. As Saab themselves said, power is nothing without control. The XWD system is that method of control and what it does is let you put more power to the ground in a controlled manner.

This screenshot is from the video I shot at the launch of the Saab 9-3. Understandably, not many people watched it as the sound quality was so poor. But this section of the video highlights the handling capabilities of the full XWD system as I understand it will be packaged in the Saab Turbo-X.

The test was quite simple, but in it’s simplicity it leaves little room to hide.

The test course was 120 meters in length and the cars tested entered the course at 40 km/h. They then had to accelerate at full throttle and pass through a simple slalom test. The test measured their speed through the course as well as their speed at exit. Each car was tested over 20 times.

In two cases, the makes and models of the cars weren’t revealed, but as you can see from the flags they used comparative vehicles from Germany and Japan. The make they did name, as you can see, was a 2007 Porsche 911 Turbo with AWD.

The results are below. Click to enlarge.

Saab XWD

The lines you can see measured their track through the course on their best run. The green line shows the path taken by the Japanese car. You can’t see the times due to the table in the foreground but it completed the course in just over 8 seconds and with an exit speed of 92 kph.

The German car is represented by the blue line and you can see its times on the right. Similarly with the Porsche, shown by the red line. The Saab fitted with the full XWD system is shown by the black line. It recorded a slower exit speed than the Porsche (though higher than the other two) but a quicker time through the actual course.

The XWD system in the Saab allows for greater traction, reduced G force and a greater ability to drive through a corner smoothly.

This is the key illustration in showing why the Turbo-X will be a much better performance car than the 280hp figure suggests. As well as the safety benefits that the XWD system will deliver, it will also allow for more stable performance.

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  1. 0-60 is a big fat red herring. The 30-50 and 50-70 in gear speeds plus the 30-70 through the gears are more important. The track time is an even better indication of how fast a car really is. Look at the times and BHP outputs for the cars on the Top Gear track. It is about grip and weight.

    I really can’t belive that Saab builds a great car and blowhards line up to knock it. If they give the car more power great but for once how about looking at a glass half full not half empty.

    I still belive you will see 320bhp in time but for now just enjoy the car.

  2. We’re only bring this topic up because Saab can only give us 280hp at this moment.

    If Saab gives us 320hp, we’d be celebrating by now, isn’t it?

    I know EVERYBODY is disappointing. Come on, don’t need to hide.

    These articles only serve to console us Saab is still doing the right thing at 280hp. That’s all.

  3. Agreed — my question right now is how many of my USD would I have to part with if I wanted to own one of these beauties?

  4. It makes sense to me… When I think the epitome European sports cars, I think Porsche. An awd 911 Turbo is a dream car for me….. If the Saab can keep up with, if not beat, the Porsche; that’s says a whole load for it’s performance!!

    Porsche didn’t join the hp race until late in the game also and they are still regarded as one of the top tier cars. Maybe Saab can go the way of Porsche… bypassing Beamer and the dressed up VW’s with the olympic sign? 😛

  5. Yes, all good. But SAAB had confidence in its XWD it would be doing a Subaru and make it standard across 9-3 (i wish).


  6. Koo – Speak for yourself, I’m sure as hell not disappointed with 280 horses. My car barely has half that, and it’s fun as hell to drive.

    craig – Subaru has been doing AWD forever, and Saab is just now starting. It’s a bad idea to make a completely new feature standard, because it might have unforseen problems. Besides, that would raise every car’s price by about 2k.

  7. But i want it and not prepared to spend the dough on an Aero.

    Ok, call me cheap but i would be otherwise happy with the Linear (+couple of xtras).

  8. Subaru and Audi, that brings us back to an important point, that is who is the competition? They say Audi but price against Subie. Are they trying to slide between the two with the ’08 9-3 model range?

  9. Adam – That’s kinda where Saab always is, midlevel between two other brands, be they Volvo and BMW or Subaru and Audi.

    craig – I think XWD and the eLSD will only be Aero exclusives at first. They will probably trickle down after the technology has been around for a bit. I mean, unless you want a Turbo X (which I doubt, because if you’re not willing to pay for the Aero, then…), you could potentially wait a year or two for the Linear trim line to get the option. They can’t just offer it at every trim right away, that’s just dumb business, ya cheapskate :p

  10. tell the truth i’ve only been considering AWD recently.

    I don’t want an SUV but do travel through some challenging mountainous roads but also commute to the city a lot (Sydney). The other option i had was for a Subie GT or Spec B six.

    I don’t think they quite have the character of the new 9-3 but they are getting closer. Those engines are rippers.

  11. I reckon Saab with made the XWD system standard equipment on the 2009-2010 models if it brings handling up to BMW or, as the above test shows, to Porsche standards to really kick some serious butt in the driveability stakes.

  12. I think that SAAB getting the XWD ready for standard 9-3 equip ASAP would be the shot-in-the-arm, the customer drawcard which could see them pulling sales in serious numbers.

    In business, to pull off a success-especially when you’re behind, you need to take risks albeit calculated ones. This could well be the risk that pays off. To delay too long will allow some of the competition (and there’s some serious competition) too much time to respond.

    Bite the bullet SAAB and make the 9-3 the kind of car many will want and forced to consider. SAAB needs an edge and while character might do it for some of us, reality dictates this won’t be enough for the customer.

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