Turbo-X Snippets

There’s a bunch of articles coming out about the Turbo X debut in the US. Most of them are re-hashes of the press release and don’t offer anything new. It’s good to see them there as the more coverage it receives, the better. But the good ones are from the people who were actually there and talked to people and got some fresh insights.

GM invited a bunch of bloggers there. Some were auto-related and some really made me scratch my head.

Here’s a few tidbits I’ve picked up just this morning…

From Edmunds Auto Observer:

Also on hand for the Turbo X unveiling was Bob Sinclair, Saab’s long-time U.S. president before General Motors bought the Swedish marque.

Often a harsh critic of Saab’s direction especially under GM ownership, Sinclair said he finally sees Saab as having “turned the corner,” though, he said, if he’d been in charge, he never would have eliminated the hatchback.

He nudged Nesbitt during the unveiling and told him GM’s finally got the front design of the Saab right, now designers need to work on the back of the car, he jabbed.

From Gaywheels.com:

the Turbo X brings the 9-3 “back to the future” according to Saab’s Marking manager Yanlin Sun. “We’ve targeted the Saab loyalist, especially current Viggen owners as our ideal customer for the Turbo X but we expect to get some conquest customers from other luxury brands now that we have our Cross-Wheel drive” added Sun.

Viggen owners.

Yeah, I could go with one of these……


It does beg the question, though, did the Viggen’s lashings of torque steer and subsequent dissing from the automotive press (bunch of fairies!!) damage the Viggen name, leading them to forsake it for this car?

I think it would have been perfect.


It was good to see the Turbo X get a run, with a green arrow, over at AutoExtremist. Pete De Lorenzo’s site is a serious gearhead website with a fair bit of clout and contact in the industry. His coverage is mainly a press release job, but it’s good to see nonetheless.

The Turbo X made the grade because of the mechanical package. It really is quite a step up and those saying that this car is just an Aero with XWD really need to appreciate how good this system is. And the eLSD really does make a lot of difference.

There’s also a comment published in his letters section from a reader there. If you think we’ve been harsh hoping for an extra 20hp to push the car over the 300 mark, think again….

This brand new Saab is already 70hp short for its price, or it’s $10,000 too expensive for its performance….. It’s not going to draw anyone new to the brand based only on performance numbers, and it’s definitely not going to erase the 10 years of bad press Saab has accumulated from the media like performance can often do…… I’m pulling for Saab, and I’m hoping GM will let them figure themselves out, but the big deal here is the AWD, which is 7 years too late- and it makes the rest of the car seem like a half-assed effort.

Two things about this letter….

1) The guy hasn’t driven it and I’d suggest he’s bundling this in with all the other AWD systems out there.

2) It shows why taking the car up to that 300hp mark might have been a good idea, purely from a marketing point of view. This guy’s suggesting 350hp, but I reckon a production number with a ‘3’ in front of it would have been enough to silence around 75% of the people who have been critical on this point.


And a memo to Pete D at AE, not that he’s likely to see it.

Please try one of the new wizz-bang content management systems over there. Something that can archive your material and create an RSS feed.

Thanks to the several people who emailed me about the AE piece

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  1. “Bryan Nesbitt, GM vice president of North American design, said the Turbo X was just the beginning and hinted that 2008 will be a significant year for Saab.”

    i can’t wait to see what he’s talking about. hopefully, we’ll see what some new products will look like. we’re almost 13 months away from 2009 and there’s nothing new that we can even look at? the volt and new camaro are not here yet, yet the public knows what they’re going to look like.

  2. the obscure invitations seem smart to me. reading about saab on autoblog for auto enthusiasts is only likely to make a dent in non-believers with many repeated rave reviews. see audi and bmw.

    in terms of non-auto bloggers, theirs is a generally untapped audience when i comes to cars, and the mention of such (she even said Saabs are neat!) could resonate a bit further. it puts Saab on the map for some people who might not otherwise consider them, through people with varying degrees of influence.

    i’d expect only subtle results, but i doubt this was very expensive for them anyway.

  3. Pete D hit the nail right on the head.

    Swade – you mentioned that he didn’t drive it so his impressions will be limited.

    That is true, but most people will first compare prices and options BEFORE heading out to test drive.

    The TurboX may in fact be a killer car, but the truth is many people won’t even make it to the dealers to find out.

  4. Trust me, Swade, the invite had me scratching my head, too!

    As Jeff K suggested, I believe it was mostly a creative marketing gesture – someone found me thru the blogs I write (http://undercover-blonde.blogspot.com and http://lupecboston.blogspot.com) and reached out to me as “a smart, savvy woman making a difference in the world.” Flattery will get you everywhere! I’d say the ploy worked – I’ve already posted about Saab twice this week, and I’m now very intrigued about the brand.

    Thanks for the cross-linkage, and many compliments on your site!

  5. Kitty, you’re more than welcome. I guess the invitation has worked – if you’re writing about it and people are reading about it. Good stuff!

    And it must be heartening to know that people are Saab are reading your website, too 🙂

  6. Hmmm, bet you didn’t think I read your website (from the Autoextremist letter). Well I do, and honestly I think the Turbo X is too little too late. Even the Volvo S60R, when it came out, it could have been only considered a “good effort.” (and yes, I drive an S60R) This isn’t 2004 for anymore and the competition is only going to get better, just like the competition has eclipsed Volvo’s effort in a few short years.

    The Turbo-X should be what a regular production Aero SHOULD be to be competitive in the price point they’re looking for. The Turbo X, if they want to make a name for themselves, should be something over and above what the competition is- (maybe 350 horse?). The BMW 335 in regular production form has 300hp. You and I know horsepower isn’t always the name of the game- but to the average luxury-ish car buyer, it probably is.

    Like I said, the AWD in this case IS big news. The rest of the car is like so many other special editions, just a bunch of new trim. But AWD so late in the game is going to cause Saab to claw pretty hard to win many customers. (although it could win some BACK)

    I love Saab, but in this case I have to put up the “why bother?” flag. I think the Turbo-X should really be something special- maybe some imported parts with the wonderful “H” name on them? Not just another special edition full of different colored upholstery and slightly larger brake rotors that are probably only now just big enough they won’t warp in regular driving…


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