UPDATE – Click here to view a comparison between the Saab Turbo X and the Saab 9-3 Aero with XWD.
I’ve got a lot of information about the 2008 Saab Turbo X scattered in various posts on this website. I think it’s high time that all the important stuff is combined into one big article on the car.
This IS the mother of all Turbo-X entries with heaps of information from styling to specs, from XWD drive to Xclusivity, as well as a big gallery of photos at the end.
So, without any further ado, here’s the book on the Saab Turbo X….
The Saab Turbo X is the showpiece, limited edition model that was designed to debut Saab’s new all-wheel-drive system, dubbed XWD, or cross wheel drive. Known internally as the Black Turbo project, the Saab Turbo X was designed in concert with the refreshed 2008 Saab 9-3.
Saab introduced its first turbocharged car, the 99 Turbo, at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1977 and it was at Frankfurt again, some 30 years later, that the Turbo X was introduced. Whilst the 1977 99 Turbo was shown in pearlescent white, some of the most desireable Saab production turbos have been black in color, hence the coloring for this new model.
With respect for Saab’s prior black turbos, both the world debut in Frankfurt and the US debut in Boston saw the Turbo X showcased with a pristine black 900 Turbo.
The addition of XWD to the Saab 9-3 range should see an expansion of interest in the model range, as both performance and versatility in trying, cool climate conditions can be enhanced. The XWD system used in the Saab Turbo X is a brand new system from Haldex, who are also based in Sweden.
The Turbo X will come in both Sport Sedan and Sport Combi body styles, has a 2.8l V6 twin-scroll turbocharged engine putting out 280hp (206kW) and 400Nm of torque. Both manual and automatic transmissions are available with 6-speeds each. 18-inch wheels are believed to be standard with 19-inch wheels available.
The Saab Turbo X is offered in one finish only – metallic jet black. The front grille and all exterior detailing are accented in a matte grey titanium-like finish.
The exterior of the Turbo X features a number of distinctive styling additions, which are designed to improve aerodynamic efficiency, as well as emphasize the Turbo X’s performance focus. At the front, a deeper lip spoiler and integrated air intake contribute to reduced drag while also increasing air flow to the engine and intercooler.
At the rear, the re-profiled bumper and insert panel lowers the point of air flow separation, further reducing drag and assisting high speed stability. The Sport Sedan features a rear spoiler that extends the line of the trunk deck, reducing high speed lift forces at the rear axle. The standard SportCombi already has a similar spoiler that extends the rear roof line.
The Turbo X is also notable for its unique, 18-inch alloy wheels (19-inch are available as an option in most countries, but not in the US) with a grey titanium-like finish.
Twin, rhomboid-shaped tailpipes complete the exterior additions.
There is a full gallery of images at the end of this article
The Saab Turbo X will feature some interior trim that’s exclusive to the Turbo X model line. Saabs are revered for their comfortable seats, which make long drives a breeze. The sports seats in the Saab Turbo X feature additional bolstering and are upholstered entirely in black leather. There’s an option to take the comfort level one step higher with premium black leather, as well, which includes perforated bolsters for the front seat squabs and backs (and which, personally, I think should be standard on this premium model).
The cabin shows sports a little bit of racing ambience with carbon-fibre highlights to the main fascia, door inserts, glove box and gear shift console, all of which are unique to the Turbo X and won’t appear on subsequent 9-3 models.
The ‘batwing’ steering wheel from the regular 9-3 range is gone and the Turbo X driver will enjoy improved ‘feel’ through the addition of a thick-rimmed, soft grip leather steering wheel.
In recognition of Saab’s turbo heritage and the black 900s that it was displayed with on debut, the Turbo X boost gauge is a modern interpretation of the original 900 Turbo boost gauge.
Owners will also enjoy a personalised greeting when they get behind the wheel and switch on the ignition, with a unique ‘Ready For Take-off’ message in the main instrument display.
The owner’s name, with the edition number of the car, can also be programmed for display by the supplying dealer. Personally, I think it’d be cool to be able to totally customise your message to something like “this car should have been called a Viggen” or “Bring Back the Hatch” 🙂
Cross Wheel Drive (XWD)
The heart and soul of the Saab Turbo X is the brand new XWD system from Haldex. The Saab Turbo X is the first car in the world to use it and it’s a significant upgrade to previous AWD systems offered by other manufacturers.
Steve Shannon of SaabUSA recently described the operation of the system quite well:
The Saab cross-wheel drive system uses the same vehicle sensors that are utilized by the electronic stability control system to monitor wheel speed, yaw rate and steering angle. Superb handling and driver control is maintained by directing the torque to the appropriate wheels as required … dramatically improving the performance capability of the chassis. This effectively tames understeer and oversteer, raises the threshold where electronic stability controls step in with braking or throttle interventions, and gives the driver more active involvement in hard driving situations.
Larger brakes and a special sport-tuned and lowered chassis have been incorporated to take full advantage of the cross-wheel drive system and high-torque powerplant of the Turbo X.
There are many AWD systems out there that can split power delivery between the front and rear wheels. Saab’s new XWD system takes this one step further, via the use of an electronic limited slip differential that can also split power between the rear wheels.
As you can see, this very clever system is fully capable of delivering ample power to the wheels that need it. As little as 4% to the rear wheels when cruising and as much as 85% to a single rear wheel when needed. The system is designed to make the most of whatever torque is available, placing it where it’s required according to all the electronic gizmos controlling the system in the Haldex ECU.
Here’s the heart of the system:
Above: The TTD coupling distributes the available torque between the front and rear axles as directed by the ECU. You can have heaps of rear drive for take-offs or up to 96% front drive for traction in snowy conditions, for example. The car is essentially able to have the best of both rear- or front-wheel-drive and of course, a combination of the two.
Above: The electronic limited slip diff is the second coupling in the system and distributes the available torque between the left and right rear wheels as directed, once again, by the ECU. As shown in the still-shot above, the sensors in the ECU detect relative traction and can compensate by directing torque where it’s needed. This helps out with quick lateral movements, allowing for greater safety in tricky situations, and better performance when you mean to be in a tricky situation!
Above: This is the technology that controls it all – the ECU. It uses 20 different sensors around 100 times per second to detect changes in vehicle dynamics and thereby distributes torque – front to back and in the rear, from side to side. All this works in conjunction with the Traction Control System and ABS, of course.
NOTE: The electronic limited slip differential is standard equipment on the Saab Turbo X, but will be on option on all future Saab XWD models. As it’s the eLSD that makes the side-to-side power split possible, this is a fairly important option to consider.
If there’s been one consistent criticism of the Saab Turbo X, it’s that horsepower figure (280hp). For an exclusive, limited edition flagship model with all-wheel-drive, many expected Saab to really uncork the genie and produce a 300hp+ vehicle. That the Turbo X is “just” a 280hp vehicle has left some people feeling a bit nonplussed.
Having said that, the Saab Turbo X is no slouch, with a 0-100 km/h time of just 5.7 seconds.
Saab’s emphasis with the Turbo X, however, is not on flat out power, but the ability for the driver to put more of that power to the ground in a controllable manner.
Saab’s own testing the development of this car pitted an XWD-equipped Saab 9-3 against a number of premium AWD vehicles from Germany and Japan, models that went unidentified except for one, the Porsche 911 Turbo.
The test was a simple slalom test to show the G’s that were built up and the ability of the test vehicles to get through the slalom with maximum control and in minimal time. The test course was 120 meters in length and the cars tested entered the course at 40 km/h. They then had to accelerate at full throttle and pass through a simple slalom test. The test measured their speed through the course as well as their speed at exit. Each car was tested over 20 times.
The results are documented below, this image being a still shot from video recorded at the launch of the 2008 Saab 9-3 in Sweden.
The lines you can see measured their track through the course on their best run. The green line shows the path taken by the Japanese car. You can’t see the times due to the table in the foreground but it completed the course in just over 8 seconds and with an exit speed of 92 kph.
The German car is represented by the blue line and you can see its times on the right. Similarly with the Porsche, shown by the red line. The Saab fitted with the full XWD system is shown by the black line. It recorded a slower exit speed than the Porsche (though higher than the other two) but a quicker time through the actual course.
The XWD system in the Saab allows for greater traction, reduced G force and a greater ability to drive through a corner smoothly.
This is the key illustration in showing why the Turbo-X will be a much better performance car than the 280hp figure suggests. As well as the safety benefits that the XWD system will deliver, it will also allow for more stable performance.
Also, for a bit of fun, here’s some video of Saab 9-3 SportCombi equipped with the full XWD system being driven around a test course by Kenneth Backlund of the Saab Performance Team. I was fortunate enough to be in the car with him, with my video camera mounted in the car as well.
The Saab Turbo X will be limited to 2,000 production units worldwide. Known market allocations are as follows:
- US – 600 units
UK – 500 units
SWEDEN – 175 units
CANADA – 125
SWITZERLAND – 120
GERMANY – 90
AUSTRALIA – 30
FRANCE – 50
Pricing is not yet finalised for all markets, but for several of the major Saab markets, pricing information has been released. These are current as at November 2007:
Sweden: The price for the Sport Sedan is 409900 SEK, which includes the “Pilot-package”: including rain-sensing wipers, parking-sensor, handsfree-preparation, electric-seats with memory, theft-alarm.
Germany: The Turbo X sedan will be 46,000 Euros, and the SportCombi will be priced at 47,500 Euro.
United Kingdom: The sedan will be priced at £32,495 but there’s no word on the SportCombi yet.
United States: Pricing starts at US$42,510 for the Sport Sedan and the SportCombi is priced at US$43,310
All markets will have options available for varying prices and you should check with Saab in your country to find out what’s what and how much it costs. UK options and pricing are listed here.
Click here to see the full US Saab Turbo X Specifications. These specs will be almost exactly the same in other countries as well.
Following are the basic US specs for the Saab Turbo X.
Model: 9-3 Turbo X
Body style / driveline:
Sport Sedan: 4-door, 5-passenger, all-wheel drive;
SportCombi: 5-door, 5-passenger, all-wheel drive
EPA vehicle class: premium compact sport sedan and sport wagon
Type: 2.8L V-6-cylinder high-output turbo
Displacement (cu in / cc): 170 / 2792
Horsepower (hp / kW @ rpm): 280 / 206@ 5500
Torque (lb-ft / Nm @ rpm): 295 / 400 @ 2150
Acceleration 0-100kph: 5.7 seconds
Front: MacPherson struts, gas shock absorbers, anti-roll bar, hydroformed sub-frame
Rear: independent, 4-link (including toe-link), coil springs, self-leveling shock absorbers, anti-roll bar, sub-frame, Re-Axs rear-wheel steering system
Steering type: power-assisted rack and pinion
Type: 4-wheel disc, hydraulic, dual-circuit with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), mechanical brake assist (MBA), vacuum booster, anti-lock braking system (ABS), traction control system (TCS) and electronic stability program (ESP), ventilated front discs and rear discs
Rotor diameter x thickness (in / mm):
front: 13.6 x 1.18 / 345 x 30
rear: 11.5 x 0.8 / 292 x 20
Wheels and Tires
Wheel size and type (in): 18 x 7.5-inch alloy
Tires: P235/45 R18
Official car of the Sith
Cheers to Kroum for this animation, put together after one of the guys at Autoblog quipped that the Turbo X could be the Official Car of the Sith.