Tour of Hirsch Performance

This is the second report from Till72, who attended the Hirsch Performance open day last weekend on SU’s behalf.

For newcomers to this site, Hirsch Performance are Saab’s official tuning house and work done by Hirsch is covered under Saab’s warranty provisions. Unfortunately, Hirsch products aren’t available in all countries (yet).

Thanks again to Till for some excellent reportage.

Related: A look around at the Hirsch collection of Saabs

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As part of the open day we had the chance to get some insights on a tour through the Hirsch Performance facilities and to learn how they develop and test their products.

This steering wheel is a new product for the 9-3 that is to be launched in about a month. Hirsch basically took the original Saab part and stripped it down to components responsible for safety and functionality. Those components are kept, just the form of the wheel is changed a bit by using a bit more foam here and a bit less there and by applying a nice leather surface. You get an aftermarket replacement that still uses the same connectors, airbag and switches and offers the same safety as the original part does. I had it in my hands and it felt that good that I might buy it once it’s available.

Same goes for the carbon leather console, the basic part is taken out of the production process from the original supplier, just the surface is added by Hirsch.

I wrote about that stripped new 9-5 in an earlier post. We got to meet the TiD engine from that car on the engine test stand.

As you can see there are a lot of sensors to measure everything at and in the engine. That’s where the main test are done because you can change the setup of the engine quickly and get some feedback on what happens. While the engine runs on the test stand the original exhaust system is fitted to make testing as authentic as possible. The grey box you can see on the left is the climate control, captable of simulating conditions from desert up to alpine passes. We were told that if you took a closer look at the walls you could see the holes caused by turbos gone bad…

We tried to get some information about the possible output of the TiD but there was just a vague answer that the added power might be similar to what is added with the current 1.9 TiD. And Manfred told us that there will be a great product adding quite a bit of power for the 2.0T. But again, no numbers.

The next room contains a roll test stand. It’s used for fine tuning of for example throttle reponse and turbo characteristics.

Quite fascinating that you could drive up to 300 kph in a small garage (hoping that the car is tied properly). The test engineer can basically work alone because all functions of the test stand can be adjusted via a remote control.

Testing on the test stand is accompanied by driving the cars out on the road. They of course also head for the German autobahn since speeding in Switzerland is a bit expensive.

Just outside the building stood a beautiful white 9-3.

It’s the 270 hp version of the 2,0T that was shown at the Saab booth in Geneva and sadly it’s the only one that was ever built. As Manfred told us there were several reasons why the project was stopped. Not only that holmologation seems to be a tricky thing, even more if you develop a special catalyst for the vehicle, but also that they were not finally satisfied with the result of the tuning. But at least is gives a hint of what is possible with that engine.

Saab 9-3 steering wheel development….

Some exhaust components….

A Saab 9-5 Aero outside….

The engine test control panel…..

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One thing I learned is that the team at Hirsch Performance is very much dedicated to making great cars even better. They have built up a great facility to deliver the best possible products. And they won’t launch anything that doesn’t meet their standards.

I had planned to do a short interview with Manfred but as they were quite busy with the tours we changed it to a Q&A via mail that I’ll hopefully be able to send Steve later. It also will deal with the #1 question for you in the US – availability – and from what I heard at the open day I can tell you that Hirsch are working hard to be available there.

When it comes to the Saab community we always say that it feels like being part of a family. And the guys at Hirsch have that family spirit, too. They were open for any kind of questions (though you might only get a smile as an anwer when asking about products for the new 9-5) and you always felt welcome there.

Thanks again to Manfred and his team for the great event.

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