Aussie Motor Show notes

UPDATED below – is Holden becoming Saab?

UPDATED AGAIN for Turbo X allocation details.


Today is media day for the Australian International Motor Show, being held in Sydney. I attended last year and saw the Aero-X in person, but wasn’t able to attend this year.

Nevertheless, TS is more than adequately represented by Richo, my Viggen-owning partner in crime and he’s SMS-ing some notes through as things pop up. Richo’s notes follow with my thoughts in italics.


Saab and Hummer are both being presented on the same stand.

    The photos will be interesting. This arises, of course, out of them both being under the GM Premium Brands banner here in Oz – a move that combines two brands but probably only has the marketing budget of 1.5 brands.

CORRECTED: Australia will be getting 30 units of the Turbo X. It’ll be priced at around A$90,000. Richo’s advised a correction – the Turbo X should be coming in at around $8,000 more than the current Aero, so that’d make it around the high $70’s.

    More units than expected.

    UPDATE – Fullboost are reporting that of those 30 units coming to Australia, only FIVE will be SportCombis with the rest being Sedans. If you’d like a Combi, best get in quick – Thanks Turbin.

Holden are showing an E85 capable engine in the new Commodore wagon.

    That’s a surprise – Biopower, Oz style. The new Commodore wagon looks surprisingly SportWagon-ish, too. Strike another blow for Saab’s uniqueness in Gm’s portfolio.

The Turbo-X is haaaaaaawt!


The E85 Commodore is a V8 and non-turbocharged.

    That’s code for a complete mileage-hacking waste of time, good for promoting the existence of sheer existence of E85 – only as long as people don’t ask questions.

There’s a white Aero convertible on display that looks brilliant.

    Photos forthcoming shortly, I hope.

There’s six or so Saabs on display. The Turbo X on display is LHD SportCombi. There’s a couple of convertibles and diesels and a sedan or two.

    Convertibles – very important. Turbin tells me that 90 out of Saabs 191 sales here last month were convertibles.

The TTiD will be coming to Australian markets in January 2008.

    Excellent. The diesel’s been a good seller here. I was talking (for the first time, to my shame) with our local Saab dealer’s sales manager this morning and they’ve had a record year here in Hobart for Saab. He was surprised with the number of people opting for a manual gearbox with the TiD. Knowing how Saab people love to drive, I wasn’t.


The Truth About Cars are reporting that Bob Lutz is in Australia. I’ve told Richo to keep an eye out for him, though when pressed for a question to ask if he meets him, I couldn’t think of one. I’m hopeless when under pressure sometimes.


Richo’s final word, at around midday, was that the show didn’t have too much buzz to it and that the press crowd seemed a bit flat. “Boring as bat@$!#” were his exact words. He finished getting several of the spokesmodels to record ‘personal greetings’ for me on video and headed home. Oh, boy.


There’s some very fishy stuff coming about in Holden. I’m seeing a lot of Saab-similarities around here.

Similarity #1

Apparently they’ve got a Commodore there with an E85 capable V8 in it. BioPower, anyone? Except without the turbocharging and therefore, the performance benefit.

Similarity #2 and #3

Is this the Saab Convertible’s Lime Yellow I see? (Not exactly, but it’s close)

And are these Saab 9-5-inspired tail lamps I see?

Holden Maloo Ute
photo by Autoblog.

Similarity #4

Is this a SportCombi-inspired Commodore Wagon I see?

Commodore Wagon
photo by Autoblog

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  1. How many trees would Greenfleet have to plant to offset the carbon from each of those HUMMERs? Is the Saab on display in the back (inside) of a HUMMER? 😉

    Is the Commodore equipped with a turbo? Is it capable of utilizing the higher octane in ethanol to get more horsepower like BioPower? As far as I know out of all the flex-fuel capable vehicles on the road only Saab’s BioPower offers the power boost on ethanol. To fuel any other flex-fuel vehicle on ethanol would have to be a solely altruistic endeavor.

    The good news about the small number of Turbo-Xs in Oz is that you’re likely to have one of your Saab Club members owning one, so maybe if you ask very nicely they’ll let you have a crack at driving it… if they didn’t see your Viggen track video… 😮

  2. turbo-x: $90,000aud?

    that’s $80,751.72usd.

    i can’t believe two things:

    1) that the turbo-x will cost $80,000 in the u.s.; and

    2) that saab would sell an $80,000 car that’s less than 300hp.


  3. Don’t sweat it, 9x – we have vehicle taxes that are pretty high on vehicles over a certain price. Also,our prices are never in parallel with US prices. Actually, no country’s prices are in parallel with US prices.

    Count yourself lucky.

  4. For E85 to take off is Aus, it needs either Ford or holden to get behind it. Don’t worry as I am sure Saab would have had a lot of work behind the scenes on an E85 engine due to the Holden v6 is basicaly the same as the Saab v6.

  5. Bring on the pics!!

    Told a colleague that the next Commonwhore would look more like my “wierdo” Sportcombi and he laughed at me…

  6. Will also be very interested to see Parveen’s presentations on Hummer and Saab. The reality is that they fully expect to sell about 1200 Hummers a year and quite possibly with better margins than the

  7. Trent: actually, the Saab V6 is the Holden V6. The engine in the 9³ Aero is manufactured in Australia by Holden and then imported into Sweden by GM for Saab.

    From what I read recently here at TS, Saab’s been having a tough time BioPower-izing the V6 for some reason…

  8. I think the reason for the problems with the V6 Biopower is the computer. I believe the V6 uses a more generic Bosch(?) computer while the I4s are Trionic. Incidentally it takes the BSR tuner up to 4 minutes to tune a Trionic 8 engine but only 1 minute to tine the 2.8t. This suggests that the mapping is alot less complex in the 2.8t but may also mean that it is less capable of fully benefitting from E85.

  9. Gripen, The engines come of the same production line but they are quite different. The Saab is 2.8 lt, while the holden is a 3.6lt, so different block and cylinder etc., plus the saab is obviously turbocharged where the holden is not, and will never be. So I would assume that the setups for biopower would need to be different.

  10. Trent: thanks. I didn’t know that (obviously…). We don’t have Holdens here in the States, unless you count the coming Pontiac G8.

  11. Re: Diesels

    I think part of the popularity of manuals in the TiD is related to why you’d choose a TiD in the first-place: frugality.

    As always though, manual is largely special order here in Oz. I have noticed that there are some manual TiD 9-3 sedans in the dealers out there but no Sportcombis. In the Sport combi there is a 1.3l/100km benefit.

    Why do I know all this? I’m now doing 40,000+kms a year and trading the 1.8t on a 1.9TiD is looking real good. If I could get a manual then would be dropping consumption by 34%!!!

  12. Here in the US, Saabs used to be mostly manuals…thats no longer the case, but the diesel/manual drives so sweet, shifting may make a comeback. You CAN have your car, and drive it and get great mileage. Even this curmudgeon wouldnt call it “frugal” though. Why should the right foot have all the fun?

  13. turbin,

    You can think of TTiD with automatic and frugality in other way, too. If you want to have a performance car and automatic transmission with reasonable fuel consumption. TTiD can be compared to 2.0T / 2.8V6T in performance. It´ll be slower on 0-100kmh, but not that much compared to 2.0T. Overtaking in gear acceleration is on par with 2.8V6T. Fuel consumption (combined) of 2.8V6T-A is 10.8l/100km, or 9.1l/100km of 2.0T vs 6.7l/100km of TTiD-A. There´s a world of difference. And of course, the driveability of a car with 300Nm at 1250rpm is a littlebit different for everyday driving. Quite many people here in finland chooses diesel for driveability, not only for frugality.

  14. MarkoA,

    I’d love the TTiD but I have a young family to look after and will probably buy a TiD as a run-out or demo model. My auto 1.8t Sportcombi is running at an average of 8.8l/100km, 75% open road driving. With a TiD manual I could probably expect close to 5l/100km under the same conditions. Unfortunately Aeros are expensive to maintain as well as buy: tyre, brake, service and fuel costs are all higher than for a vanilla 1.9TiD.

  15. I understand fully. And you can count yourself as a enviroment-friendly driver. CO2 for Sportcombi TiD manual is 149g/km if I remember correctly. Which is less than average car in here where I´m living. Considering the size and weight, it´s not bad value.

    You mentioned Aero. Is it so that Australia will get TTiD only for Aero model?

  16. Yes, i noticed this as well. We can only bloody well hope (Holden becomming SAAB).

    I test drove an SV6 and SS and sorry to all you Holden fans, THEY SUCKED.

    Their manual gearboxes are the worst i’ve ever used in a new car and responsiveness of the 6 leaves a lot to be desired. Build qual is much better but currently i wouldn’t buy one in a fit of insanity. The interior looks as if designed by bogans. NO STYLE WHATSOEVER.

    Very disappointing we can’t build a car with better running gear…rant rant rave rave….

  17. Holden = Saab? Imitation is the highest form of flattery so perhaps there’s some comfort. So far the only aspect that I’ve seen acknowledged as a pick-up from Saab is the load carrying mechanism. Regardless, its a sweet ,looking wagon for a big aussie tank. It’ll come with a variety of engines including a V6 based on the same block as Saabs and a 6.0 litre V8.

    The GM V6 is also used by Alfa in a variety of models – part of the fallout of the GM/FIAT deal that went south a few years ago.

  18. PT Spot on. Sometimes Saabisti can be a bit “glass half empty” or even “who emptied my glass?”. Ok often it is justified but when people steal your ideas and designs it means (usually) that you have it right.

    Re the paint, can some one confirm if this is right that there is only one supplier of car paint in the world (for the mainstream manufacturers)? I am sure I read this some where but maybe its an urban myth.

  19. Did Saab invent the wagon ? Is building a wagon stealing from Saab ?

    Was Saab the first one to use E85 in their engines ? Is converting an engine to E85 stealing from Saab ?

    Was Saab the first one to use a p** yellow metallic shade ? Does this mean Holden steal from Saab ?

    Come on, saabisti ?!!!

  20. One innovation SAAB can relinquish to holden et al is the new door handles on the 2008 9-3. These seem to have magically appeared on the holdens in the photos above. I think it was a mistake to change the handles and seeming them on so many other GM cars just confirms it.

    What was wrong with the old ones?

  21. The current holden Calais range have the Saab 95 handbrake ( the skin pincher) as far as I can see. Does it matter? It probably helps Saab be cost-efficient and spend money on the things that matter.

  22. Jon,

    the paint issue is definitely a myth.

    On the contrary, there used to be several suppliers even for the same paint shade (I don’t know if that’s still the case for OEM’s.)

    A classic Saab example is the 70’s Verona green , for which there are several (nearly) identical shades.

    In Europe, for instance, OEM’s use products from such manufacturers as PPG, Standox, Spiess-Hecker, Sikkens etc.

    Finally, for aftermarket (read: paint repair) purposes you can get the same shade from a number of suppliers. Admitted, though, that the requirements are not quite the same as
    for new cars.

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