Help needed – Geneva accommodation

It seems we may have only one of two attending the Geneva show. I had to scratch and argue to get my accreditation, which only came through yesterday after initially being denied. RedJ’s is not looking rosy at this point.

That said, with such a late confirmation of attendance, accommodation is going to be a massive hassle to find.

Just wondering – has anyone here got any local knowledge as to where to look. I’m assuming that as with every other year, Geneva itself is completely booked out. Consequently I might need to stay somewhere within commuting distance.

If anyone has a suitable lead, or suitable advice, please let me know via email (swade99-at-gmail-dot-com)

Cheers,

SW

UPDATE:

I’m not 100% sure about SW plans, but I think he/we needs accommodation for 3 nights, coming at the 28th of February and leaving on the 3rd of May.

SU Hi-Po Challenge – Entry #2

This second entry in the SU Hi-Po challenge.

It comes from Jon C, who freely acknowledges that he’s strayed from the rules laid out. Still, I said I’d publish….. and I appreciate the efforts.

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“A sports car…that would be my dream car for Kia …it will happen. Not today not next year, but it will slowly happen. You can’t do halo cars until you have the foundations to support them.”

Peter Schreyer, Kia Design, Car Magazine, Feb 2011

When fan boys blog on SU about how Saab needs a Halo car, I usually roll my eyes and stop reading. My view is that if you want a car with a 400bhp V-anything, do yourself a favour and acknowledge the fact that you really want a BMW or Mercedes. Cars are about more than bragging down the Golf Club or in the school playground. I think a halo car is a bad idea.

That said the challenge laid down by Swade did get me thinking. A lot of people think that a halo car is a big powerful sports car, and to be fair it usually is. But, the MX5, Toyota MR2 and the Audi TT may have been sports cars but they were not particularly powerful back in the day. The golf GTi is the ultimate halo car for me (the entire reputation of Volkswagen is based on the Mk2 GTi) and it had 110bhp at the start!

I am now starting to veer wildly off Swades set objective but indulge me.

The 350-brake rule was set because lots of people foolishly think that more power is the only answer. I think that’s pretty short sighted. Lets look at some numbers.

BMW 335i – 302bhp, 0-60 5.6 Seconds, 1610kg
Renault Megane R26.R – 227bhp, 0-60 5.8 Seconds, 1220kg
Hirsch 9-3 2.0T – 240Bhp, 0-60 6.9 Seconds, 1600kg

So, to achieve performance on a par with Audi S models, and a 335i the 9-3 needs to lose about 400kg. And I thought I had a weight problem.

So what goes?
• Seats – replaced by a carbon-fibre units. Front and Rear.
• Air Con. (but still an option)
• Sound System (head unit, amp, speakers) (but still an option)
• The hardboard boot/trunk floor.
• The spare wheel.
• Rear electric window motors
• Wheels, replace with lighter alloys.
• Windows, replaced with polycarbonate.
• Bonnet, Wings and boot lid replaced with plastic parts (quite common especially on French cars).
• Replace suspension components where they can with lighter parts, through the use of 3D metal printing technology (see EVO February).
• No 4wd, no auto box.

Does this save 400kg? Probably not as 400 kg is a BIG ask (Renault took about 150kg out of the Megane). The weight reduction is as much about handling as performance (MX5 / TT).

The Jaguar XJ220 and the original Golf GTi started as “after hours” projects by committed engineers who wanted to see if they could do it. Budgets were non-existent and resources limited. I fully appreciate any Saab engineer reading this and thinking “cheeky bugger” but my point is, what I am proposing has been done before and at a (relatively) low cost.

The current 9-3 is also the basis of the next 9-3 and mods developed for the halo car can be wrapped up in the development cost of the new 9-3.

The engine is off the shelf. The main costs would be the windows and wings/bonnet/boot.

None of the above requires a great deal of money, and some actually save money! I would also suggest that each car will LOSE money, possibly to the tune of £25 000 per unit. However to keep losses to a minimum I propose a run of 150 cars. The funding to come out of the marketing budget. Why a loss? Because I intend to sell it for LESS than an Aero model (I mean be reasonable it doesn’t even have a radio!). UK price £24999.

Looking at the spec above you will see this car is NOT for the poseur. It is a lightweight, stripped out performance car, if you want gadgets and a V8; well the Audi show room is that way, sir. It is not created to make money or to even sell more 9-3s. It exists to hi-light that Saab is alive and to remind folks that Saab can handle.

Please feel free to rip into this one; there are holes in this you can drive a tank through. For my money Saab needs a Golf GTi or a TT for a halo car, not an M3 chaser that will always come second in road tests and that is a few years away.

Saab 9-5 in Polish poll

UPDATE:

The 9-5 is currently in the third round, and up against the formidable Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

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UPDATE:

Having won round 1, the 9-5 is now up against the Peugeot RCZ.

Please click here if you feel like having your say.

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Everyone’s running a car of the year poll these days, including Moto.pl

Theirs is a little different in that cars are pitted against one another in a bracket arrangement. The Saab 9-5 has to defeat the BMW X3 before it can move on to the second round, where it will take on either the Peugeot RCX or the Ford C-Max.

Yes, the pairings are a little obtuse, but in the end, there can still be only one.

If you feel like having a vote, click here and scroll down until the bracket arrangement appears (it may take a few moments).

If the 9-5 gets past the X3, you may called to perform this service once again (and again, and again)

Report: Subaru to build Legacy and Outback in Trollhattan

UPDATE II:

OK…..

The exact nature of the story isn’t clear, but further communication indicates that there will be something going on here, relating to work being done using Saabs facilities, but nothing like cars actually being built on the site.

It seems the exact nature of the engagement will be announced later today.

UPDATE:

The initial reports spoke only of things from the Subaru side. There was no comment from Saab.

The first report mentioned was at Dagens Industri (at this URL), but they seem to have removed the report. Other services such as TTELA, Swedish Radio and SVD ran the report as well.

The initial contact that I’ve been able to make with Saab, via email, indicates that this story is most likely in error. There are further checks taking place, but right now it looks like this was a speculative report based on some comments from a Subaru executive.

If I hear anything more, I’ll let you know.

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This is just hitting the news services in Sweden…..

From TTELA:

Subaru wants to develop in Trollhättan

TROLLHÄTTAN – Japanese car giants Subaru wants to develop two of its car models in Trollhättan. The plans have been confirmed by Subaru Nordic’s CEO Torbjorn Lillrud.
Subaru plans to further develop the model Legacy and Outback for gas.

Torbjorn Lillrud stated the following to Dagens Indusri, DI:

– It is unique to a foreign car company will start manufacturing in Sweden of a model that is partly developed in Sweden.

According to DI Legacy and Outback rebuilt in Saab Automobile’s facility in Trollhättan.

Victor Muller’s very keen to drive down Saab’s break even point and increase profitability. One way to do that is to reduce costs. The other is to bring in outside revenue.

Sure beats building windmills 🙂

I’ll trace other reports and see if there’s anything more to report about this.

SU Hi-Po Challenge – entry #1

This is the first submission received in the SU Hi-Po Challenge.

It comes from Eric H, in California.

The first sentence sums up the dilemma nicely, but Eric does go on to elucidate how he’d think about doing a higher performance model.

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I’d love to see a high performance option from Saab but they need to have a solid model lineup across the board first, so until the new (or at least extremely refreshed) 9-3 is introduced in a year or so I wouldn’t introduce a new performance trim level on the current car. Also given the time it takes for things like durability and emission testing we probably won’t see a high performance halo car before that time anyways unless it had already been in the works which doesn’t seem likely and I haven’t heard of anything planned in this regard for the new 9-5.

Looking at the model lineup within the next couple years we’ll have a heavily refreshed/new 9-3, the 9-4x and the recently introduced 9-5. For a performance “halo” type car we can probably rule out the 9-4x. While the 9-5 is a great car it’s also pretty big and on the heavy side. To significantly improve performance would require a dramatic increase in power which would come at the expense of fuel economy and increased emissions which goes against what Saab is moving towards in their goal of responsible performance. We can also speculate there’s a chance for a new 9-1 or 9-2, and while I’d love to see one sold that has a performance trim level such as an Aero model, it wouldn’t make sense to have your base, entry level model as the halo car.

That leaves us with the 9-3. This next car may be using what Saab calls their Phoenix platform but in reality it’s still just the original GM Epsilon architecture* which Saab had already tweaked enough to be somewhat different from other GM models (for example the internal controversy of the 9-3 convertible not being able to share parts/platforms when Pontiac was developing their G6 convertible due to the changes Saab made). With GM still retaining a major stake in Saab and with part sharing and other agreements still in place that opens up a wide range of components that Saab could use to build a next generation Turbo X-like halo vehicle, but instead this time backing it up with a true performance increase.

* Phoenix is a fully Saabified platform using Epsilon as a starting point. It will be fully customised to Saabs needs, and be extremely flexible, underpinning future 9-3, 9-4x and 9-5 vehicles. I’m personally very wary of calling it “just the original GM Epsilon architecture” – SW

Assuming that at least for the next couple years Saab will continue to use some or all powertrains sourced from GM and the current 9-3 and 9-5 are already using the 2.0L Ecotec, if I were building a performance 9-3 I’d start with a high output version of the GM “LNF” 2.0L direct injection, turbocharged four*. The current LDK/LHU variant that powers GM cars as well as the 9-5 produces only 220hp and 258 ft-lbs of torque and is less than the older LNF’s 260/260 ratings when it was used in cars like the Cobalt SS Turbo, the HHR SS, and the GM roadsters. The reduction in power in for the LHU version used in the 9-5 and other cars was more than likely for emission and economy reasons although the Buick Regal GS is expected to get a version of the LHU making 255hp and 295 ft-lbs or torque.

*Note: According to RedJ, the LNF will not pass Euro5 emissions, making this engine a no-go for Europe. The car will need to be sold around the world. Not dead yet, though……- SW

As the turbocharger and Bosch direct injection system didn’t change on these new variants and GM could continue to use the LNF or have an updated version of the LHU supporting similar power (like the upcoming Regal GS), all that would be required for say 300 hp and 335 ft-lbs of torque would be a recalibration of the Bosch engine management system. GM already spent the development dollars testing and certifying this when they released a dealer installed sensor upgrade and computer reflash for the LNF engine via GM Performance Parts that brings it up to 290 hp and 340 ft-lbs of torque and aftermarket tuning has shown it can support power levels significantly higher than that.

Read moreSU Hi-Po Challenge – entry #1

Charles River Saab 100K Clinic

If you’ve got an older Saab, you’d probably love to have someone with 30 years Saab experience take a peek over it and lead you through a review of the entire car, yes?

Next time Charles River Saab holds one of these 100K clinics, I’d suggest you sign up.

Luke Lewis did, and here’s the report he shot through via email today.

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On Saturday, January 29th, Charles River SAAB hosted a 100K- Mile Clinic, which was open to anyone with a SAAB that had 100K or over on it. The idea behind this clinic (from my perspective) was to bring people in and give them a chance to not only meet the people who work on their vehicles, but also give those customers an opportunity to see their vehicle from a Tech’s perspective.

I was there with some other members of NESA (New England SAAB Association). I tagged along with my buddy, Ryan, who brought in his 9000CS.

The day started with an introduction from Pierre (to introduce the technicians and customers). We then went with the Tech to the car, did the initial walk-around. We then got in the car and went for a brief test drive. The entire time, the Tech was telling us what he was looking for.

When we got back, we went inside to the Service area and through the car up on the lift. Our Tech was Peter and he gave us an extremely thorough walk-down on this car and was extremely descriptive in his actions. (Note from Luke – Peter, a service tech for SAAB for 30 years previously drove a 9000Aero and knew this car inside and out).

(Note from Swade – I met Peter Maitland at Swedish Car Day last year and his knowledge is indeed Britannica-ic when comes to Saabs. He’s also got a nice little collection of them, too, including Ol’ Blue and a Saabo caravan).

I have provided some pictures of the event.

I wanted to thank Charles River SAAB, Pierre, and Peter for this awesome experience.

  • Pic 1: Peter (Tech in the driver’s seat) and Ryan in the passenger seat – getting ready for the test drive.
  • Pic 2: Fellow SAABer, Mike M, was getting a detailed walk around with his Tech on his 9-5 Aero SC.
  • Pic 3: Down the way, an other customer was taking advantage of this opportunity with her 9-5 Sedan.
  • Pic 4: With gloves on, both Peter and Ryan are ready for a thorough exam of the engine bay.

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My thanks to Luke for the report.

It’s always great to see people getting to know their cars a little better. And it’s outstanding to see a dealer going to this length to help them do it. CRS are straight from the top shelf.

Carlsson Saab 96 replica leaves Reims for Monte Carlo historic rally

Pete Backstrom from the Saab Museum has sent through a few images from the start of the Monte Carlo historic rally in Reims, France.

The car in the images is the one that’s been painstakingly built by the guys at Oldtimer Markts, a magazine in Germany. The magazines editor, Peter Steinfurth, is driving the vehicle with navigator, Thorsten Löber. Unfortunately, a missed time control has meant their early retirement from the race.

The car still looked fantastic at the start, though. Erik Carlsson himself was there to wave them off.

I’ll have some more imagery about the build of this car in the next couple of days.

My thanks to Peter for the images.

Before the start…..

Erik given the honours, waving them off….

And moving a blaze of speed and fury 🙂 …..

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