Hirsch Performance: Saab USA upgrade availability

I have received a list of vehicles for which Hirsch Performance – Saab’s official tuning house – have received the OK to provide vehicle ECU upgrades.

To give you an idea of the process involved……

This list comes from an Executive Order issued by the California Air Resource Board. Each of the vehicle congiurations on this list had to be tested and certified in order to be given the tick by CARB. This is a lengthy and expensive process, especially with this number of vehicles involved.

If your car is on the list, then you should be able to access a Hirsch ECU upgrade (costs for which are as yet unknown) from your local Saab dealer if that dealer is one that’s been approved for Hirsch distribution.

Here’s the list (click).


Congratulations to Hirsch for finally making it over the pond an into the US market. It’s been a long time coming, and is a breakthrough that’s well deserved.

Saab performance by Hirsch

28 thoughts on “Hirsch Performance: Saab USA upgrade availability”

  1. I have a question when and where might I buy this Hirsch upgrade for my 2009 SAAB 9.3 XWD? Is it really worth it? Does it improve gas mileage? Why don’t SAABs already come to the dealer fine-tuned???? LOL…Just saying…..sorry for all the questions. I live in Columbus Ohio USA. Our nearest authorized SAAB dealer is Midwestern Auto Group.

    • Not all Saab dealers in the US will be Hirsch dealers (I think). So you might have to check with your local dealer whether they’ll be one of them. If so, ask when it’ll become available (shouldn’t be too long now they’re approved).

      Is it worth it? Subjective question. People who have done upgrades will most likely say yes, including me, but it really depends on what your priorities are. If you’re still under warranty, then this is the only way to upgrade and still preserve your warranty status.

      Why aren’t they already tuned like this? a) Saab and other companies have to assume people are using regular gas in their cars and they de-tune accordingly. Higher tuned cars run better on better fuel. b) If they came like this already, they wouldn’t be able to sell you the upgrade ๐Ÿ™‚ – Both a and b are true.

      Does it improve mileage – depends on how you drive. Many people do report better mileage, but others make use of the extra power to go extra quick and will do worse. Baseline – should provide marginally better mileage.

    • Many car companies have in house companies. AMG by Mercedes probably being one of the well known. Although Hirsch are separate tuning company they primarily deal with SAAB tuning and being authorised; as mentioned above, does mean you keep your warranty. On other SAAB models sold in Europe Hirsch tuning goes further than ECU calabration and various ‘stages’ of upgrade can be made. not just cometic accessories like wheels and leather dashboards but Exhausts, Brakes, and intercoolers. I can only imagine that this new announcement is just the beginning.

      My Viggen comes stock with 225hp (99 Modelyear version)
      I could have a “stage 3” package from Hirsch which would not only take it to 280hp but include all the necessary modifications to get the engine to produce that figure, keep it on the road and more important the right brakes and discs.

      So best to think of the Hirsch tuning as to AUDI’s S Models (S4, S6, etc) but not their “S-line” which is just a Trim level.

  2. Wonder what the cost is? I do have my wife’s combi, but I don’t think she would like this. To bad they don’t do some of the older cars. I would consist one on my 05 Aero without the normal warranty.

    • Also sad to see there’s no Turbo-X upgrade listed :(. While I suspect we’d be one of the buyer groups most likely to purchase an upgrade, there are ultimately probably too few of us (damn that exclusivity!).

      • I wouidn’t lose sleep over this.

        Maptun PPC (for instance) gives better results for half the price and well within the spec ,say, of otherwise mechanically identical Opel Insignia OPC (which is putting out 325 HP).

        No installation fees either. 10 minutes to upgrade yourself via the Steering wheel port and you can detune at will.

        As regards warranty: Well, the car is now a few years old. And I have never heard a single instance of a breakdown related to such a minor engine upgrade (so-called ‘stage 1’). Now if you’re going to go VTuner Stage 2 at 390 HP and 425 lbs torque then we need to look carefully at the mechnaicals and plan accordingly (intecooler, downpipe, plugs…),

      • This is a bummer. Maybe I am too much for structure, but getting Hirsch accessories that are available for the Turbo X and a non-Hirsch engine tune really bums me out.

  3. They should take up the 9-3x for the list as well. The 9-3x is underpowered with just the standard 210hp engine.

    • The 9-3 is, of course, due for an upgrade halfway through this model year (I think they’ll announce in Geneva) where I believe it will get the 2.0T Direct Injection engine from the Saab 9-5.

      Hirsch have mentioned that they plan to add more 2011 models to the list, so I imagine it’ll be these upgraded 9-3’s that will be added. I think there’s a good chance the 9-3x will be a part of that.

      Bottom line – I think all MY2011.5 Saab 9-3’s will get a Hirsch option on top of the more advanced engine.

    • Underpowered?
      What do want to tow? A boat?
      I upgraded half a year ago from 150 to 195 hp and feeling great with it.
      OK, you get used to it. But you get used to 500 hp too.

      • Probably a missunderstanding. According to my knowlege the 9-3x is not available with a 150hp engine that can be upgraded to 195hp. The 9-3x is heavier than a normal 9-3, a) due to xwd b) due to additional reinforcements. Especially the 2010 models are heavy, the 2011 are also roughly 100kg lighter like the rest of the 9-3 line.

  4. Good News that they’ve arrived on our shores (US ones anyways). But I certainly wouldn’t put their work on par with AMG (and so I would expect it to be priced lower). Hirsch engine upgrades …in modern times anyways…are simply about boost. No internals (camshafts etc.). If they can provide a Hirsched out 9-5 Aero XWD at the price of a Merc E350 4matic then they win. If they price it with a E550 4matic they will have a mountain to climb.

    Having just come off a read of the latest duel [Mercedes E350 RWD vs. Saab 9-5 Aero XWD] at http://www.autoexpress.co.uk I wonder if Hirsch upgrades address the CO2 issue that seems to be so key in Europe/UK.

    I suspect that review will be worth it’s own thread and will generate a few comments!.

    [I thought it fair. But maddening in that they never seem to compare apples. As a Canadian I would be more interested in the battle between an E350 4matic and Aero XWD...

    One thing's for sure. Saab better sort out a more competitive automatic tranny.

    And speaking of C02: I thought we were the 'Kings' of that. If 'Responsible Performance' is our mantra, we need to walk the talk across the line and not just for the low output diesels.]

    • They should give journalists Aeros on 18 inch rims so they wonโ€™t whine about addition noise and less comfort comparing to Mercedes.. Also even handling should be better as SAAB engineer told in Evo review.
      Another thing โ€“ saab should give hirsched cars without telling it. So reviews will be even better.

  5. Well, my 2006 SC Aero didnt make the list to be available for upgrade and that is somewhat ok with me. While it would have been nice to have the option, I guess it does not make economic sense for Saab to go back too far. Perhaps once my career plans become more firm and the Corvette is gone I can buy a newer 9-3SS XWD and have it upgraded.

    I still cannot believe I’d rather drive my SC Aero than my 7.4 liter ground pounding, gas guzzling ‘vette… If you would have asked me three years ago about Saab I would have said “not a chance”

    Now I’m lining things up for a second one in the stable….

  6. As an aside: Those Hirsch rims are probably the only ones I’d buy for a 9-5. As pretty as the OEM rims are, they’ve never appeared particularly “sporty” to me, and the Hirsch rims certain solve that problem. Add a small, tasteful rear spoiler, and it would look absolutely beautiful!

  7. That’s OKl, Hirsch and Saab. Maptun and GS/BSR can do the same job and cheaper to get me to 300 horsepower.

    This is bigger than just the Turbo X and many of us have 280’s from 2008 and 2009 that you could have served.

    Sad because with the demise of the Griffin (branded by the new Saab as a symbol of aggression), and the new “Intellectual Saab” that has distanced itself from it’s rally heritage I doubt if I’ll be back.

    You aren’t “quirky”, you have gone wacky and PS, we all don’t live in California; where the fruits and nuts ripen in the sun and you can buy pot easier than windshield deicer.

  8. I think we’re all being a little hard on Hirsch for not having this or that. It has to cost big bucks to have each version of software approved and I am sure they targeted the cars that number the most. The Turbo X is nice and unique and Id love to have one, but with a small number produced I cant see how it’s economically smart to offer a upgrade in which less than 100 cars, IMHO, will be tuned.

  9. It is not just the Turbo X it is any 9-3 with the 208 horse power motor. There are a lot of cars, my car for one, that have that as it was offered as a “silent” option in 2008 and 2009. I suppose this was not to take the thunder away from the Turbo X.

    Now, with that said, the carbon footprint of this car is less than the beloved 300 hp “new gen” 9-5 so how much trouble would it have been to include this car?

    And yes these cars do exist and sales? Well you missed not only one but two since I won’t even consider the product for my wife’s 2.0 XWD at this point.

    74 Stingray, go out and look for a C-5 or some nice base Corvette of that era. Not only will it run circles around these cars but the gas mileage with the 6 speed was phenomenal. On the Interstates in light traffic and on long trips I got a nice solid 31 miles per gallon. Yep, checked and double checked with pencil and paper too. I had that wonderful car for 5 trouble free years and medical issues arose.Reliable, and as Uncle Tom McCahill said in a road test in the 1960’s …. it cornered “like a weasel in a drain pipe”.

  10. The new 9-5 300 horsepower has CO2 emissions that = 269 g/km

    The old 9-3 280 horsepower has C)2 emissions that = 254 g/km

    How expensive is it to run the car on a dyno and measure the exhaust? They do it every day thousands of times a day in almost every state of the union.

    And, what of the Canadian market? Since when are they and the other states regulated by the California Emissions Board? If anything they are the smaller of the “niche” markets not to mention that this car is NOT limited to the Turbo X but thousands of other owners who optioned up.

    “Boutique” badge engineering at it’s finest.

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