I noted with some interest that British journo and Saab fan, Graeme Lambert, has just taken a Saab 9000 Aero as a long-term test vehicle. Nice move! Being a fan of practical classics, I’m looking forward to reading his thoughts.
A few weeks ago, I caught up with a friend of mine in Victoria – a 9000 Aero owner named Nathan. In fact, Nathan was the guy who provided my first ever Saab driving experience in his 1986 Saab 9000 Turbo. That car’s gone now, but his current 9000 Aero is an absolute cracker of a car and while I was visiting, we took it out for a spin (of course!).
I should preface this by saying that despite having spent plenty of time in different Saabs, and countless hours in the Saab 9000 (we’ve had two CS’s over the last 7 years or so), I’ve never spent much time in the Saab 9000 Aero. In fact, the only time I can recall is a short ride through Melbourne’s city streets in a pristine automatic model (thanks, Dan!).
So aside from all the other reasons I enjoyed catching up with Nathan, the chance to spend some quality time in the Saab that former designer chief Bjorn Envall said was Saab’s best ever vehicle was one I was very excited about.
I’m pleased to say it was a fair bit of a revelation, too.
As mentioned, I’m quite accustomed with the Saab 9000. I’ve been driving our CS models for years now and I’ve loved them both. They eat up highway miles rapaciously, they’re comfortable, can swallow a whale and have proved to be very reliable. The CS is not a sporting car, though. Not by a long shot. Whilst it will move reasonably quickly when provoked, it’s more inclined to wallow around a corner rather than turn through it. Judge the weight transfer correctly and it can be a fun car to drive, but it always feels like the big, comfortable, floaty car that is.
As I learned a few weeks ago, the Aero – especially Nathan’s Aero – is a completely different beast.
I don’t know how much you’ll be able to tell from the video, below, but this car is blazingly quick. I imagine the regular Aero is quick, too, but this one is brutal. I spent quite a bit of time being pushed back into the most comfortable seats ever to feature in a motor car.
What amazed me more than the speed, though, was how utterly stable it was through the corners. Floaty, comfy 9000 CS’s – be gone! This Aero was hunkered down; it actually felt like it was crouching and shifting it’s weight like one of those sidecar racers – very deliberate and precise. Nothing we threw at this car could get it out of shape. We had sections of road (not in the video) that were in very poor condition due to roadworks and the car simply continued to inspire confidence the whole time.
Pure Saab? Not with all those Abbott bits bolted on. But they’re bolted on to what is undoubtedly a superb base. The 9000 Aero is an outstanding vehicle and one that I look forward to spending a bit more time in (like this Easter weekend, for example!).
And for those who were wondering about the output of Nathan’s car – it hasn’t been on a dyno for quite a while, but he says it’s currently making upwards of 340hp and well over 500Nm of torque. It really is super-quick and handles like a much smaller car – a testament to some very committed ownership and a company’s expertise.
Pardon the rattly camera casing and the idle chatter. Just enjoy the car…..