Gripen’s recent report from the press drive of the 2008 Saab 9-3 gave rise to some other interesting news:
The 2.0T BioPower will output 200 hp and is due MY2009
Gripen wondered if it was a typo, and maybe it was, but you’d think they had that sort of thing sorted by the time it came to do a presentation to the press.
The mysterious part of it is the 200hp figure. The base model 9-3 is the 2.0T, a high output turbo model that puts out 210hp. As we’ve seen with BioPower vehicles in other markets, the E85 engine gives more power when running on ethanol. The Saab 9-3 BioPower in the UK, for example, puts out 150hp running on gasoline and 175hp running on E85.
It makes for good press, too. Like this recent road test from The Guardian:
…..very nice it was, too – practical, smooth, comfortable, mildly eccentric and fitted with one of Saab’s aeroplane-style cockpits. And here’s the big news: the 1.8t engine generates more power running on bioethanol than it does on petrol. In other words, you don’t compromise the car’s performance by feeding it liquidised oats – you boost it. I, obviously, am in no position to confirm or deny this. But Saab is Swedish. I can’t see why they’d lie about it. Not in big letters all over the side of the car.
Everyone likes to hear about more power and it’s a real selling point for BioPower.
So are SaabUSA going to limit the output of the BioPower range when it’s released there in 2009?
Well, I’d take a guess and say that the BioPower model that they release will be like a new base model. With the current base standing at 210hp there’s plenty of room underneath, for example, for a 175hp variant that reaches 200hp when running on corn.
Will it still be badged as 2.0T?
I think it’d be a bit confusing if it were. Perhaps just a Saab 9-3 BioPower badge would suffice.
Of course, those in the press who are familiar with Saab and BioPower will know two important things:
– the current base Saab produces 210hp
– Saab’s BioPower setup enables the car to produce more power when running on E85.
So when a 200hp BioPower variant comes out in 2009 it will seem that there’s a lack of reconciliation there. I think potential US-based BioPower buyers might be a little disappointed as well. For the last few years those who read wider than the US literature would know that BioPower’s supposed to provide more – and the US version of it will produce less than what they get in their pre-BioPower base model.
Am I being a bit unfair bringing all this up? Well, Saab highlighted the higher output potental of BioPower themselves when they unveiled the Saab BioPower Concept last year at the Detroit Auto Show. That car featured a (conceptual) 2.3 HOT engine producing 310hp when running on E85.
They’ve set the bar, let’s see if they eventually reach it.
BioPower coming to the US is a great thing, no doubt about it. Here’s to getting the formula right so that it’ll build interest and excitement once it gets there.