Autoblog: Hirsch for dealer installed Saab Performance

It’s a cracker of a busy day here, with lots of work to do before I finish up for a while. Hence, I’m a bit slow getting to things at the moment.

I’m not sure if Autoblog had a representative at the Saab 9-5 driving event this week, but they’ve got an unattributed stoy about Saab, Hirsch and dealer-installed performance that makes me think they were there.

There are two parts to this (as with many stories) – the face value part and the undertone.

The face value part:

…..[Saab] company executives have been in talks with leading European Saab tuner Hirsch Performance AG (with whom it has a longstanding relationship) to develop new dealer-installed performance parts to be offered in North America and other markets.

This isn’t really news. Hirsch have all the performance gear in place and they even had it certified for the US a couple of years ago. They just never got the OK from SaabUSA to actually do it and because Hirsch’s stuff is covered by the original factory warranty, that OK was essential.

So what we have here isn’t a need to develop product, per se, it’s a need to finally pull the trigger and get the product out there. Performance stuff for the Saab 9-3 has been available in other markets for years. The 9-5 gear might take a little longer as they’re having to do that for the global market.

And now for the undertone…..

When I display some disgust and hatred for GM, some people wonder why. If it’s accurate, this part of the Autoblog story will tell you why:

….the Swedish automaker is seeking to enhance the performance potential of its 9-3 and the new 9-5, but it remains hamstrung by agreements signed with Saab’s previous owners that lay out chapter-and-verse about what power levels its products can offer through 2012. Why? Because “We can’t modify these licensed architectures in such a way that it will compete with General Motors products.” In other words, production-line models with stouter drivetrains have been ruled out for the next couple of years, leaving Saab to pursue other ways to bring more power to the people.

Saab were restrained for years by General Motors and it seems that restraint continues today.

I’m not so mad about the ‘today’ stuff as it’s to be expected. What I get mad about is the years and years of wasted time when GM withheld premium performance and powertrain from Saab whilst giving the absolutely crap Pontiac Solstice a 260hp DI engine. That’s just one typical example.

I get mad about the fact that I persistently asked questions about issues like this of various members of SaabUSA staff over the years and got bullshit answers. I could smell it at the time but what are you supposed to do? Call them liars in the middle of an interview just because of something you suspect?

Please pardon the language, but this stuff really puts steam in my strides. You bang your head against the wall for ages, knowing in your heart that you’re right and it’s only after the culprits have exited stage-left that you finally hear something like this – the truth.


The good news is that there might be some more access to performance enhancements for those who want it. I shouldn’t let my own feelings overshadow that.

For people to be able to access this sort of thing through their dealer is a win for everyone. OK, it’s not quite as good as getting it from the factory, but it’s better than not getting it at all.

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