The Viggen successor?

When I first heard about Saab mounting the new DI 2.0T engine from the 9-5 in the 9-3 Griffin, I just thought with a little help from Switzerland, that car could be the perfect Viggen successor. Later I learned that Hirsch was updating that engine to 260hp/400Nm not only in the 9-5 but also in the 9-3. From that day I knew the Saab 9-3 Griffin FWD 2.0T + Hirsch will be the most fun to drive Saab since years.

I still have to drive it, but Till72 had the pleasure last Friday. You can read his thoughts after the jump.

Flying the Griffin

At first I’d like to take you a back in time. It was in ten years ago when I bought my first new Saab. It was a 9-3 SE with 185 hp, a Turbo Anniversary model if I remember correctly. I really loved that car, it was extremely quick, a bit raw with lovely torque steer but still great on long trips. When I got the car back then the first thing I did was taking a trip through Sweden, up to the polar circle, using as many dirt roads as I could find. I did nearly 10.000 km within a bit more than two weeks – still one of my most favourite road trips. I enjoyed that car for two years and as the lease ended I stepped on to the next generation of the 9-3.

I think that either with my own cars or loaners I got, I’ve driven about every engine that have been available for the current 9-3 and despite many were more powerful and for sure all of them were more refined than my good old hatch none had that special driving feel (it’s hard to describe but I guess many here know what I mean).

Restaurant Now let’s fast forward a bit to last Friday. I went to Sankt Gallen to visit Manfred at Hirsch. As we had a coffee he handed over a key and said “This is what we will be driving today!” I instantly had a smile on my face and asked “Griffin? 260 hp?” He confirmed that and after we had done some business stuff it was finally time to take a ride and find a place for lunch. To be able to do a proper test, we chose a place a bit higher in the mountains.

Manfred lead me out of Sankt Gallen and as soon as we got out on those winding Swiss roads and I put my foot down I got a driving feel like I had it back in my first 9-3. On the entire trip the highest gear I used was 3rd – it was just pure fun to accelerate out of the bends and dare traction until the ESP smoothly stepped in. When accelerating on quite steep hills it feels like the road was flat and overtaking is pure fun. With 260 hp and a torque of 400Nm you always have plenty of power without any turbo lag and if you already smile from ear to ear with the standard 2,0T you may smile all around with the Hirsch upgrade.

Swiss MountainsThe car was FWD so of course you have some torque steer and some amount of under-steer in sharp bends but I have to admit that I like that behaviour, it makes the driving experience less clinical.

For I am one of those who think that a Saab has to be a 4-cylinder, at least in the 9-3, this car is just perfect. May I call it ultimate driving machine? πŸ˜‰ Since my ride in that car a few days have passed but I am still smiling. Yesterday I went on an off-road quad tour which was great but it didn’t exceed the amount of fun I had on Friday.

You got to know me as someone who always was asking for a XWD Diesel. But last Friday changed my view a bit. When it comes to driving fun, that car, maybe with some additional Hirsch goodies regarding suspension and wheels, would be just perfect for me. I’d recommend the update to all who got/get a 9-3 with the latest 2,0 T. Your dealer can install a ten day trial software as soon as it’s available (homologation is still to be finished) but be aware: it’s quite likely you may want to keep it.

I’m sorry for the TurboX fans, but the new Kid on the block has arrived. πŸ™‚

Doctor Donk
Member
5 years 4 months ago

260HP + FWD + Crappy gearbox + not lightweight car + 2011 does not sound promising. It can be performance car for honda civic driver or something..

Polle
Member
5 years 4 months ago

Well doctor,
what can you (seriously) prescribe then…

Doctor Donk
Member
5 years 4 months ago

it is pack for 9-5 which can beat RS6. E AMG and M5

Or same pack for NEW 9-3. Current one is too old for that kind of official tunes.

Quijote
Member
5 years 4 months ago

My 274Hp BSRed “FWD, crappy gearbox, not lightweight car” embarrassed a 2010 330hp, rear wheel drive Infiniti G37 three weekends ago at the autocross.

And he had to fill up his tank long before I did.

Doctor Donk
Member
5 years 4 months ago

G37 shit, not fast car. seen it owned by 240HP hirsch 9-3. i owned much better cars with 9-5 350hp but still think my car is outdated a lot in performance: 1. bad AT gearbox. 2. FWD (ok NG solved this problem) 3. low power for factory

I’d like to see SAAB in RS6 AMG M league, not in one with jap crapp cars.

Chris_de_Ze
Member
5 years 4 months ago

My 250Hp Maptun-ed β€œFWD, crappy gearbox, heavyweight car” embarrassed a Porsche Boxster few weeks ago. Simply the Porsche’s young driver could not believe that a “heavy” Saab could overtake him and he could not catch me up whatever he tried.

GerritN
Member
5 years 4 months ago

Just in a straight line, Chris, just in a straight line….

roger
Member
5 years 4 months ago

My 9-3 cab β€œFWD, crappy gearbox, not lightweight car” embarrassed a 2010 Porsche Cayman S cab from 50 to 150 with a roundabout in the middle of the “track”. The driver looked very disturbed after the race.

till72
Member
5 years 4 months ago

LOL!

saabista63
Member
5 years 4 months ago

What an appetizer!
Thank you Till!

WooDz
Member
5 years 4 months ago
SAAB have a goal of 110kw per litre cubic capacity. In terms of power that makes the Viggen a bit of slug with a mere 73kw per litre. However get behind the wheel and the Viggen is far from sluggish even by today’s offerings. At 260hp the Hirsch tunes 9-3 is pushing 130hp which is pretty much the benchmark for most high-ouput turbocharged engines on the market today. Is there room for a bit more in the new DI 2.0Ltr? I’d like to think so, the question is who would want 300hp from a 9-3 and lastly would it be… Read more »
till72
Member
5 years 4 months ago

I’m pretty sure that ther would be room for a bit more in the DI 2,0 but the 260 hp but the question is durability. 260 hp should be a safe number regarding that.

hogge
Member
5 years 4 months ago

Who’d want a 300 hp 9-3? Well just look at the nuts who’ve been buying Lancer Evos and Imprezas through the years.
I think Saab needs an XWD rally-inspired car with loads of horsepower to take advantage of their rally heritage.

Audun
Member
5 years 4 months ago

A little off topic, but:
” It was in ten years ago when I bought my first new Saab. It was a 9-3 SE with 185 hp, a Turbo Anniversary model if I remember correctly.”

My saab is a 2002 9-3 SE Aut, how can I find out if it has the 150 hp engine or the 185 hp engine?
The instruction manual does not mention gear box alternatives for the 150 hp, only for the 185 hp and the 205 hp. I’ve had it for 2 1/2 years and I’ve never missed more power. Fun car to drive. πŸ™‚

saabista63
Member
5 years 4 months ago

SAAB is not about 2 + 3 + 4 -3.
SAAB is about driving and enjoying it.
People, you gotta get behind the wheel of those cars and drive them.
Otherwise, you’ll end up doing the maths without knowing what SAAB or Viggen or Aero means.

saabista63
Member
5 years 4 months ago

Sorry, my last posting was aimed @Doctor Donk.
I know RedJ, Audun & Till72 don’t need that tkind of encouragement.

Polle
Member
5 years 4 months ago

Yes, there is a lot of power-room left on that engine… only torque has to pay the penalty.
If you compare (engine)competitors.
Lancer EvoX: 295Hp – 366Nm torque
Audi S3: 265HP – 350Nm
Seat cupra: same as Audi S3.
Seat Supercopa (race car): 300HP – 350Nm fuel consumption: 55l/h
Seat Supercopa (race car) with upgrade: 330HP – 370NM fuel consumption 60l/h

These are all 2.0 DI Turbo engines…
I’ll take 260Hp and 400Nm anytime!!

martinsaab
Member
5 years 4 months ago

No need for the horsepowers, but give me the torque!!!

Procyon
Member
5 years 4 months ago

What about the engine life time after such an upgrade?

Polle
Member
5 years 4 months ago
Nothing to worry about with the Hirsch upgrade. 260HP does not overly stress the engine components. If you go for 300HP or more, I would take a closer look at internal components and most importantly exhaust temperature. When exhaust temperature is too high, you’ll need to tweek your fuelsystem in order to keep it under control. Excessive exhaust temperature will reduce the life time of your turbo. It mostly means that the injector takes too long time to inject the amount of fuel needed. Bigger injectors or higher fuelpressure is then needed. Since we already have a high pressure pump,… Read more »
Khrisdk
Member
5 years 4 months ago

Agree on the Hirsch part for Choosing wisely. I would probably do so if I bought a new Saab

For more pure fun , call Maptun, wreck your warranty on your OG9-3 taking it to steg 3 or 4, or get a Viggen at steg 3…
Low weight and FWD rules πŸ™‚

@Doctor Donk..We have a street legal Maptun 500HP 9000 in our club. Would that do the trick for 2011?

maanders
Member
5 years 4 months ago

Are any OG9-3’s still under warranty? πŸ™‚

Khrisdk
Member
5 years 4 months ago

Nah probably not..the 8 year oil sludge thing just ran out I think

OK..then go to steg 5 on OG9-3. The standard clutch and GT17 Turbo probably needs replacement anyway πŸ™‚

Iiari
Member
5 years 4 months ago
A provocative headline to be sure, but it’s definitely no Viggen successor. I have a Turbo-X and it’s certainly no Viggen successor either. The Viggen was not only high performace, but it also had a certain look and a certain kind-of crazy attitude about it that no Saab since (certainly not the upcoming Griffin, even if it’s Hirsched) has embodied. I actually think Saab should choose a different moniker for its future high performance models (assuming they’re able to make any). Autos today are just too big, too heavy, and too refined to recapture that light, tossable, slightly dangerous feel… Read more »
mikaik
Member
5 years 4 months ago

@till72 – I hope you realize how much I hate you right now….:)
On the other hand, I shouldn’t complain, I’m more than happy with the 9-5. If only more people would get to test-drive a Saab, the problems would be solved, money would start pouring in, but I guess it just too much bad press.

Nice report!

till72
Member
5 years 4 months ago

Sometimes it even feels good to be hated…. πŸ˜‰

You got the hirsched 9-5 Aero, right? Also a great car. Take a look at the body kit when it comes out, it just looks great.

btw.: We share a dealer, right?

mikaik
Member
5 years 4 months ago

Yup, we do have the same dealer. I’ll give the body kit a look, but I think the car looks great already. See what I mean?

I wouldn’t trade it for anything else, but I’m greedy and I want to drive them all πŸ™‚

till72
Member
5 years 4 months ago

Really looks great. The body kit gives it a bit of a more, err, evil touch and it has some aerodynamic purpose. I like it a lot. Will try to get some preview for SU soon.

till72
Member
5 years 4 months ago

@Red J
Yep, and a bit more…

maanders
Member
5 years 4 months ago

Yes, Till. Sounds like you had a lot of fun! My first new Saab (and first Saab, actually) was a 2000 9-3 and like you, the first week of driving it convinced me it was the most fun car I had ever owned. 176,000 miles later…..it still is! πŸ™‚

till72
Member
5 years 4 months ago

I saw a 9-3 Troll Convertible for sale last week. If I only had some spare bucks…

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