A word on those 2011 model updates

Saab surprised all by letting out press releases earlier today with regard to the 2011 Saab 9-3 and the 2011 Saab 9-5.

A summary release gives the main dot points.


Trollhättan, Sweden: For Model Year 2011, Saab is introducing major powertrain improvements: class-leading CO2 emissions of just 119 g/km in the 9-3 range and a wider engine choice for the newly-launched 9-5 sedan.

Saab 9-3 range:

  • Class-leading CO2 emissions of just 119 g/km with 4.5 l/100km combined cycle fuel economy for diesel-powered Saab 9-3 Sport Sedans in Linear or Vector specification. In terms of CO2 per unit of horsepower, the 180 hp engine delivers the most efficient performance in the compact segment.
  • More powerful 1.9-liter diesels, all with two-stage turbocharging. New 130 hp TTiD replaces the previous 120 hp, single turbo TiD unit and a 160 hp TTiD version replaces the 150 hp TiD. They join the range-topping 180 hp/400 Nm TTiD variant.
  • Average10 percent reduction in CO2 emissions across the gasoline and diesel range
  • New 163 hp, 2.0-liter gasoline turbo available with Saab XWD for 9-3 Sport
    Sedan, SportCombi and 9-3X soft-roader
  • Distinctive TX special edition continued across the range
  • New rear badging to match format introduced on new 9-5 sedan

Saab 9-5 sedan:

  • Greater customer choice: powertrain line-up now expanded from three to six engines – 190 hp, 2.0 TTiD introduced, available with Saab XWD, as well as two-wheel drive.
  • First Saab diesel with XWD system, Offered in addition to 160 hp, 2.0 TiD engine with two-wheel drive.
  • Rightsized, 180 hp, 1.6 Turbo gasoline engine lowers price entry point. Among most efficient production engines in its class, producing 112 hp per liter
  • New 220 hp, 2.0-liter BioPower engine – able to run on gasoline and/or E85 fuel (85% bioethanol,15% gasoline) in any blends.


For those of you who were expecting more from the 9-3 in terms of exterior and interior changes, I’ve mentioned previously that those changes are now expected later in the model year, possibly as a MY2011.5 enhancement or as an early release for the 2012 model year.

What we’ve got here for the 9-3, however, should not be regarded in any way as insignificant. This is a major enhancement of the 9-3 model range for Saab because the changes made go to making the car much more marketable in Europe, a continent where Saab should be doing so much better than what it has done in the last 5 years or so.

OK, it’s not all prettied up and nicer to touch. But it’s going to soooo much more attractive for many people to buy now. What we have here is a wholesale change to the heart of the car – the engine bay.

A 10% reduction in CO2 emissions.

A new 163hp variant.

New diesels and – most importantly for driveability – the whole diesel range is upgraded and it’s all twin-turbo.

It’s been a long, long time since Saab has had such a wholesale change to its entire engine lineup and considering where Saab’s come from this year, it’s a massive effort and one that’s worth some congratulations.

A bit of trim or some new textiles are relatively easy in comparison. A major upgrade in engines to bring a whole range to a new competitive edge is something all together and I suspect that the work done to get this ready is one of the reasons exterior and interior will take a little longer.

The combination of XWD and the TTiD engine is something people have been asking for ever since the two technologies were unveiled in the 2008 model year.

Now, the 9-5 has got those two technologies together. They’re not possible in the 9-3 and haven’t been since inception but they’re here now. The next trick will be for them to come together in the wagon version of the vehicle, but that won’t be until [probably] this time next year.

This is a great, great build up for Saab.

First you have the company being sold and surviving. They the 9-5 comes. Then these 2011 engine enhancements that are going to make the vehicles so much more appealing in the competitive European market. Next will be the 9-4x, which will be a bonus for the US market in particular. And after that, the 9-5 wagon.

Every step of the way opens Saab up to new buyers and the possibility of new success. Every step is an improvement.

Of course, the US market isn’t going to see all of these changes come through. The US market misses out on a bucketload of great cars from Europe because of lower margins and the costs of compliance there. The diesel range of Saabs is a case in point.

But hopefully more and more of these model improvements will come through to the US in good time.

I don’t usually see mid-level engine enhancements as a particularly exciting thing. As you know, I’m one of those who usually likes to see their Saab go faster, not more efficiently. But a wholesale range of changes like this for a company that’s had so many hurdles placed before it is a real reason to be optimistic for the future.

Kudos all those at Saab who got this stuff together. Outstanding work!

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