Well, you’ve finally seen all the pics. You’ve read the releases and you’ve commented, debated, opined, argued and even illustrated what you think of the Turbo X. I’ve been so busy formatting images and editing that I haven’t really had a chance to comment much myself, so here goes.
I’ve never met an unhappy Viggen owner. And I get the feeling that I’m never going to meet an unhappy Turbo X owner, either. It’s quite possible that this car could become known as the best Saab ever built. That’s always going to be a subjective assessment, but it’s a genuine chance.
Quick list: things I love about this car
I love the Turbo X’s aggressive stance. It’s not overt, but it’s definitely purposeful. From all accounts the signature Jet Black metallic color is awesome in person. From what I’ve heard, I don’t think any of the photos that are out there are doing the car justice.
The redesigned 9-3 itself, and Snow Silver in particular, both look way better in person than what they do in photos. I’ve said it myself and I’ve heard it consistently from people who get to see the car for the first time. It’s going to be the same with the Turbo X. You like the photos now? Wait to you actually get to see one in person.
I love the fact that is one quite advanced Saab.
The full XWD system in this car is pretty revolutionary. I’ve been watching the conversations evolve in comments on some other automotive sites. You get people who haven’t bothered reading up on the system saying “haven’t Audi had this for years already?” and yeah, they’ve had AWD, but not a system like this. I just have to shake my head and say “if you only knew”.
When you’re looking at stuff on the web or just reading about it, it’s pretty easy to regard eLSD as just a funny four-letter-word. It’s easy to look at 280 and read it as number that’s not 300. Well, the proof of the pudding is in the tasting and I have a feeling that anyone who gets a chance to drive or own this car is going to be blown away.
As someone who’s pondered tuning their car and looked at all the options and the costs associated with doing so (not to mention the hassle of aftermarket parts not quite working as they should sometimes) I’ll take a factory-sorted upgrade any day of the week. And this is no kids stuff upgrade here.
Apart from XWD, there’s the engine tune, the chassis tune and the brakes. “Power is nothing without control” and this goes as much for the XWD as it does for the chassis and those bigarse stoppers. Let me tell you from personal experience, there’s nothing quite like braking in a 1985 Saab 900 to make you appreciate the brakes of a Viggen.
The wheels? Hasn’t there been some conjecture about those! I think they are absolutely magnificent. There’s a number of wheels that look good on the 9-3 but these are special. The finish on them works with the other accents on the car and I just love the spoke pattern.
I guess the wheels are like other parts of this car; they’re a throwback of sorts to Saab’s past – in this case a split three spoke – but they’re updated and interpreted in a modern way. This car takes a lot of cues from the past, but make no mistake, this is a thoroughly modern Saab, one that’s about setting benchmarks, not reliving the past.
Many have commented on the turbo badge on the back, how it’s got a capital ‘T’ instead of a small ‘t’ like the 900. This is a reinterpretation for a modern age Saab. The font is similar but different and personally, I think slapping an old turbo badge on it without that would have looked silly.
As a carbon-fibre clad Viggen owner I’m very pleased with the carbon fibre accents inside. Anyone who thinks it’s just a trim kit on this car and therefore dismisses it does so to their own disadvantage. In line with what I said about tuning the car earlier, it’s a lot easier and provides for a better result to get a factory fitted kit. And it does make a difference to the ownership experience.
The black on black combination combined with the greyed metallic accents works perfectly IMHO. The nostalgic details are well integrated and the whole thing…..works.
Of course, I’m still not a fan of the GM generic radio that we’ll likely get here in Oz, for example, but on the whole, there’s more than enough car here for me to not care.
The Black Turbo is going to sell very quickly and it’s going to be one that second-hand enthusiasts will keep a very keen eye on. The entry into XWD is a landmark for Saab and this car is definitely going to be regarded highly in accord with that.
I never thought I’d get a chance to own a Viggen, but I was fortunate enough to get one a couple of years ago. Similarly, with limited numbers and high cost here in Australia, I don’t think I’m much chance to get my hands on one of these Turbo X’s until well into the future. But you never know. The second hand market does funny things.
For those of you fortunate enough to consider one of these new, you have my envy.
The final word
I think it’s going to be very interesting to see this car get tested next year. I think the only way that the word is going to get out about how good this drivetrain is, is for it to be driven by those with the space to give it a considered opinion. Until then, it’s quite possibly going to appear to many, who don’t do their research and rely on the quick writeups of unfocused websites, as body kit only proposition.
If Saab could have done one thing better in terms of producing and marketing this car, I think it’s the output. Make no mistake, this will be one fantastic and very rewarding car to drive. But purely from a marketing perspective, I think it would have been advantageous to crank this sucker up to or over 300hp. They’re going to ask a premium for this vehicle and for that reason alone – marketing it as a truly cutting edge vehicle – I think it really would have benefitted from that one extra edge over the rest of the Saab range.
But I’m not going to let that dampen my enthusiasm for this car. I think it’s a fitting commemoration of Saab’s 30 years of turbocharging and a more than adequate highlight model for the introduction of XWD.