Lasse Sward – we live in different worlds :-)’s Lasse Sward has published a review of the low-emissions Saab 9-3 TTiD today and I had to have a giggle as I read the ending.

The test goes extremely well, to be honest. One could go so far as to say it’s almost a glowing review. Well, about as glowing as reviews get in Sweden.

Sward praises the work done on the car to get it below the magic 120g/km mark, and notes that even though the model is older now, it’s still quite capable on the road, very reliable, very safe and despite some cramping in the back when there’s a tall occupant in front, it’s still comfortable and very driver-friendly.

The bit that made me giggle was near the end when he was discussing the fact that three models are available under 120g. They are 130hp, 160hp and 180hp versions – and the fact that the 180hp version is the most powerful ‘green’ car in Sweden is noted.

Sward opines that people should save some money and go for the 130hp version, arguing:

The price starts at 267 800 SEK for version Linear Active. The corresponding ethanol version with 175 hp is 18 000 cheaper – but drink more and thus provide higher mileage, and must also be serviced more often. If you settle for simple diesel engine of 130 horsepower, you’ll get away with 244 000 SEK, a clearly smarter choice in terms of their wallets. And honestly – how many need 180 hp?

It was that last sentence that made me double over.

And honestly, how many [people] need 180hp?

Mr Sward, I’d like to employ you to moderate my comments section. Please. If you can convince a readership that 130hp is perfectly adequate then I’d love you to come in to SU-land and help me to persuade some people here that a 220hp engine, with the option of taking it up to 260hp with factory-backed tuning, is more than perfectly adequate.

It’d certainly save me some time, angst and heartache 🙂

Seriously, it just goes to show the different philosophies from place to place. Sweden is the land of Lagom and Saab, a company who embrace this concept to a large degree, are selling cars to a lot of very different markets from it’s little base in Trollhattan.

Check out that review. It’s well worth the read.

And people – don’t take the bait. I realise quite clearly that more is needed in other markets. I’m just amazed at seeing the difference so stark in this article.

65 thoughts on “Lasse Sward – we live in different worlds :-)”

  1. I can’t really argue with him as I think that he is right. A 130 hp diesel engine with 320 Nm of torque will provide a very elastic and comfortable ride. It is not that you will need 180 hp and 400 Nm. The thing here is that the official consumption is the same for both the 130 hp and the 180 hp engine so there is not environmental benefit choosing the less powerful engine.

    Maybe he should have reformulate it to; “Buy the 180 hp version if you can afford it.Otherwise buy the 130 hp edition as it will still get the job done.”

  2. The bottom line of this article, IMO, is that it cables out the message that well-known and beloved 9-3 now is available under 120g/km and that there are many output levels to suit your taste. Torquey options for the dedicated. Economical options for the economic-minded. Free advertising in a very large news site.

  3. I’m on Lasse’s team. We still own a 1995 2.0i (no turbo, 136HP) 9000 for 10 years now, and I never found it underpowered. In fact when we got a 9-5 with 2.0t 150HP, I kind of lamented the fact that there was no naturally aspitated base engine. However now we got it tuned to 185HP, and it gets 10 tot 20% better mileage, so I have the green excuse, and still have more power.

  4. Well, Swade. Not 18 000 euros cheaper, huh? 🙂 Now that would be bargain 🙂

    A warm feeling just went through my body. Finally some good reviews in the daily press. SAAB IS indeed alive. All of us would probably choose the 180hp version if we could choose freely.

    • Have removed the Euros reference. The perils of working with Googletrans are many 🙂

      And I should add, my Alfa only has 140hp and it’s more fun that a sack full of kittens. I go for more power in my Saabs because I can.

      • Indeed. It is certainly a matter of which car we´re talking about. One of my former SAAB V4 had 120hp and that was an amazing ride.

        • One of my former SAAB V4 had 120hp…

          That -MUST- have been fun, especially when you think of the base engine was something like 68hp(?) and the two (Saab tuning) kits available would give you 80 or 90 hp respectively. What did you do to get it to 120 horses??

          I am sure some one-lane gravel and snow covered roads saw some rapid driving…

      • Try Bing for translation it says the price for the 180hp is $800267 !!!!!! 🙂 now that’s the dearest Saab ever. Sell a few of those and break even will be a lot closer 😉

  5. As a swede myself, I dont think I’ve read one single article being negative towards the new TTID. Everyone thinks SAAB has made a great achievement combining fuel efficiency and power. 🙂

  6. I currently own an old Saab 93 2.2 TiD with 125 hp. It’s a nice car, but loaded with family and luggage the car needs more power. I would buy, i’ll take the 180 hp version. But performance need depends on the driving need. As I’m often in germany i enjoy it to travel at comfortable 160-180 km/h. I also like acceleration power which could be better than my current 93.
    But the 93 is has not enough space in the lugagge room. It’s a nice lifestyle saloon, but not practical.

    • OliverH – I understand your need for a big trunk. Just wait until the 9-3 SS is launched as a sub-120 g/Km car. According to different sources it will be launched in week 12. 😉

      • @Carl-Henrik
        But it still have the small trunk. No way. The trunk of my 93-I is full while travelling. I don’t need a golf bag, i need a real car 😉
        I’m interested in lower CO2 g/km but i need a big trunk.

        • since the SS 119 gram already is here, I´m guessing Carl-Henrik ment the SC. Week 12 then, sounds great!

    • I had that 2.2 TiD, too anf felt the same. After a year I finally decided to upgrade it to 145 hp and it was really worth the money.

  7. He’s right, many people drive like my mother-there are folks want a degree of quality from their automotive metal but frankly could not care less about the engine or the power-as long as it gets to 60 in under a minute and does 55mph they’re happy, well maybe just a little about the economy bit-this article will speak to those micra drivers with some style and a few extra quid in their wallets.

    I am not one of them BTW- but it did make me smile and was a nice read…encouraging stuff!

  8. Nice little review. Lasse is right, who needs 180hp? Torque is the name of the game, and already the 130 hp version has plenty of it for safe overtaking. (My former OG 9-3 TiD 115hp was quicker than most for overtaking.)

    I need a car for a safe and comfortable journey. I will never go driving just for fun.(In fact, I walk, cycle or use public transport whenever I can.) But still I am a Saab friend and I will probably buy a new Saab again. Still I respect you guys who have cars as a hobby and like tuning them. Diversity is good! 😉

    • If we are talking maximum acceleration, horsepower is actually the name of the game. The acceleration is related to the power for used revs. Torque on lower revs is nice and provides good driveability, though.

      There is no way that your old 9-3 was quicker then most for overtaking, provided that cars with higher power (with about the same weight) used the right gear.

  9. It should also be noted that although the manual sedan is (currently) the only version that qualifies as an “environmental car” according to swedish regulations, the remaining versions too have benefited from the efforts put in to reducing its emissions. I know I’m quite possibly preaching to the choir here, but sometimes reviews such as this one may give the impression we only optimized ONE version of the 9-3, which obviously isn’t the case.

    I picked up my new 180 Hp sedan, automatic, just after the Christmas holidays and immediately noted the difference. Granted, the previous car was an SC, so this one carries a little less weight, but the difference is most obvious when it comes to the gearing. Before, the car would downshift to 5th at approximately 80 km/h, whereas now it will stay in 6th until speed drops to about 70. Cruising at highway speed (110 km/h) is nice and comfortable at a mere 2000 rpm. So far, the car only has 2000 km on the clock, so it’s probably too early to tell what mileage it’ll get once the engine’s been broken in, but it’s already substantially lower than it ever was with the SC. This being my first sedan I don’t know how much of that can be attributed to the reduced weight and different aerodynamic properties, but frankly it doesn’t really matter. The sum of the parts makes me a real happy camper 🙂

  10. One of my fears with a low horse power diesel has always been that you are all torqued-out when you come to an overtaking situation (e.g. when accelerating from 110 km/h to 130-140) and that a low horse power gas engine would prove itself in exactly that situation. Anybody who could comment on that?

    • Not a problem. Even in the low hp diesels you have full torque up to 170-180 km/h. That should be enough 😉 In fact naturally aspired high power (premium) cars are in serious trouble with an old diesel Saab in acceleration between 100-200 kph.
      As a side note diesels also need to be run hot from time to time in order to keep the engine clean. Very important.

      • As mentioned before: acceleration is depending on horsepower (which in its turn depends on torque and revs). If two cars (with the same weight) should be competing, the car with the highest average power at the used revs will be the winner.

        • Stefan,

          That’s the theory, and it works on a racetrack, but in the real world, most people and/or automatic transmissions don’t always downshift three gears so that they can hit the power peak at 6000+ RPM for half a second, and then upshift to the next gear for 1.5 seconds and so on.
          That means that point-to-point, an engine with more torque will feel more responsive than a high horsepower engine with lower torque in the 1500-4000 rpm range. If you take into account the time needed for downshifting, the high-torque engine will accelerate faster for the first few seconds after you open the throttle. That initial advantage will not maintain itself to terminal velocity, but one rarely needs to take a car above 200 km/h just to pass a truck on a two lane highway.

          Peugeot was using a 4 speed manual transmission in World Rally Car a few years back. They found it faster overall (and took the championship) because their engine had been optimized for high torque.

          • Not saying that you are wrong because it all of course depend on the cars and the circumstances. But I stand by my statement that the one with the highest power at the used revs will win most of the times, especially for longer runs. Key here is “used revs”; that is, you have to select the right gears.

            Some thoughts:
            – Naturally aspirated cars often have lower max torque but on the other hand faster responce than a turbo-charged one; no turbo lag.
            – Often, in overtaking situations for instance, you can see the overtaking possibility coming so you can prepare yourself shifting gears/kicking down.
            – Turbo-charged petrol cars may have lower max torque than a turbo diesel, but not by that big numbers. The diesel need to change gears more often because of a narrower rev range.
            – Also high-torque diesels often need to shift down gears in an overtaking situation. And the smaller turbo may have shorter lag but lag still exists.
            – I think at least my automatic transmission choses the right gears when flooring. Because of the rather high torque it does need to start at that high a rev, about 4000 is enough. I drive a 9-3 SC 2.0T.

            Don’t get me wrong, I really want high torque in my engines, it provides good driveability and flexibility, and is easier to accelerate fast. But power is still king in many situations. I prefer both of course 🙂

        • – Also high-torque diesels often need to shift down gears in an overtaking situation.

          Sorry Stefan, it’s just the opposite.
          As an interesting comparison a tuned TTiD (still ‘only’ 205 hp) is almost as quick -within 1 sec. according to Maptune- as a standard 9-3 2.8 Aero (250 hp) and a standard Turbo X (280) at 100-150 kph. (all three between 7.2-8.3 seconds).
          A 2.0T XWD (210 hp) is in fact slower than a standard TTiD (180 hp) still 100-150 kph.
          I just think this speaks volumes about the turbo diesel’s overtaking capabilities.

          • You cannot say that as a fact, it depends on the gear ratio of the actual car, doesn’t it? In a recent thread about a road test of the 9-5 diesel the driver claims that he shifts down for overtaking. In cases you don’t need to, you of course save time and maybe “wins”, especially on shorter runs.

            “Almost as quick”. Exactly. 1 second difference is more than 10 %, it’s rather significant. It’s still about the power curve. Diesels, especially tuned ones, have high power on low revs. You cannot get around the fact that we are talking about power.

            I don’t say that diesels cannot be really fast. I just object to saying that torque is “better” or “faster” because it isn’t. A tractor has enormous torque, a formula one car hasn’t. The power curve (which is a product of torque) tells everything.

          • One thing guys! Isn´t it very important how the gear ratio is?
            I can swear the diesel has a higher gearing (with 400Nm), so the math isn´t easy.

            A thought:
            With the same Gearing(utväxling) 400Nm would make a difference, but the manufacturer “compensate this for better purposes than maximum acceleration.

  11. I drive a 3 years old 9-3 TTID SC and i love it. It has been absolutley fun and the turbo feels a little bit more as the old turbos!

    I had zero problems so it has been very relieble. To bad it wasn´t as low on milage before…

  12. I think we, Saabnuts, are a bit overestimating the part of people who really want performance in their SAAB. Yes, a high performance car has to be part of the portfolio, otherwise the press doesn’t call you premium. But I also agree that 80% of the people do not not need/want more than about 130HP (I can only speak for Europe). It would be very interesting to see how many of the sold diesels are 130-160-180. My guess is 50%-30%-20%? Are there any statistics?

    • It´s also a matter of prestige. Killing the competition “because we can”. Most articles I´ve read about the new 180ttid is about…[email protected] Without that product, the article wouldn´t get that much attention.

    • Mine is 160. Not because I don’t want the 180, but because 180 is over a certain taxation treshold in my country 😉

  13. Hate to be off topic, but this is slightly relevant to this post-

    The new Ferrari 612 (4 seater) has been revealed, and it looks like what happens when you cross a 458 Italia and a Saab 900. Loving it actually. Four wheel drive included 😉 I like how they are taking some cues from Saab, if only Saab had been taking more cues from Saab while GM owned it.

  14. Is it possible to “maptune” the 130hp? What cost, what power?

    There is good deals in Sweden for the 130hp TTiD (229.900 kr)? But as allways you want more power without spending to much money!

    • Tomas,

      Just click on the MapTun sponsor icon in the right-hand column of this page to find out the prices.

    • A dedicated diesel engine tuner for cars, trucks, boats and construction vehicles in Sweden is KCRacing. They are also working on 130, 160 and 180 tuning options for the latest diesel Saabs.

      For the Swedish market only they offer a 3 year/80,000 km engine warranty.

      • Thanks for responding!
        The solution is not yet there but it´s comming.
        KCR: not ready yet
        Maptun: not ready yet.
        Hirsch: not ready yet.

  15. Startrek Fans Note: Do you remember that episode when Scotty exclaimed, “But Captain Kirk,
    I have to have more power!”

  16. It’s funny the different lifestyles people have etc. a 130 bhp/big torque diesel would be faster than most cars I drive or have probably ever driven. Apart from my parent’s old T5 that is…

    In Ireland, you just cannot drive fast, or certainly not for long. Having said that, I do believe some cars are dangerously slow. In November, I was driving in the city in our 940 2.3 LPT. I was on the main road, with traffic all around me when, a taxi came straight out of a side-street and headed directly into the side of me. To this day, I don’t know what he was thinking. It was as if I was not there. One thought went through my mind: he’s going to hit our 940! The 940! NO! Anyway, back in university I was a rugby winger, and I can only describe getting out of the taxi’s way like the greatest side-step I have ever done, and managed to avoid an accident by the tiniest amount. I mean an inch – maximum. The 940 has a fair bit of go in the mid-range, and I know that’s what saved me – had I been in another car, (e.g. my parent’s Sonata, or brother’s S40, my old Almera/Zantia etc.) things would have been different. Sometimes you need some punch..

    I was shaking after that. Had my 2 brothers in the car and everything after is a bit of a blur. One brother was restrained at the following traffic lights from getting out of the car and ‘getting’ the taxi driver. I had my window down and used some of the worst language I’ve ever used, but what that was, I have no idea.

    Anyway, aside from the pure fun, you need ‘power’ to be able to avoid such incidents, it’s as important as brakes. That doesn’t apply here as all those engines sound fine, but next time I’m sitting into a Micra or Tiida (please no), I’ll be aware of it.

    • Very true! Good handling and quick acceleration can help avoid accidents. (Also quick reflexes….good one, J Fan!)

      • Thanks very much, my brothers gave me some great compliments – especially the one in the back seat staring at the bonnet of the fast approaching Nissan 🙂

      • Good acceleration is very important for safety, especially “Saab-acc”, for overtaking. I´ve just come back from a ski-trip and countless overtakings in my 9-5 2,3 bp, the less time you spend in the opposite lane the safer. (and I enjoyed it a fair bit too 🙂 )

  17. Please: Are the restrictive covenants imposed by GM regarding our inability to go beyond their equivalents on the V6 power-wise (why we have to play this game of going to an outside entity [Hirsch] to improve performance ) also apply down the line….to the Diesels too?

    Do we have to rely on Hirsch for every performance gain, legally? And why is Hirsch seemingly limited to ECU changes…do they not have the expertise in house to make any hardwarde changes?

    Earlier posts (?) mentioned that the GM restrictions come off in 2012. True?

  18. Hm, maybe I’m mistaken but it sounds like Saab makes a 180hp version of the diesel engine first, then down tunes it to 160hp and 130hp. Hirsch then comes in and tunes the 130hp and 160hp versions back up to 180hp?
    Or are there real differences between the 3 engines?

  19. You certainly don’t need more that 130hp for everyday driving. How may do?
    However, sometimes you definitely do need the power reserve to instantly pass safely a truck or bus on a 2-lane highway or a country road, with 4 people on board plus lugages. This also depends where you live in the world and what kind of roads are available.
    So power adds to safety, provided it is reasonably and wisely used.
    Power on the other hand sells and it has always been a good sales advantage. It’s hard to find a car comparison (full) review without performance figures. And lots of people still buy their next car by reading magazines and/or e-magazines.
    If the 130hp and the 180hp had exactly the same price, which one would you buy?

    • After some years of empirical studies, I can conclude that I need maximum 220-230 bhp (turbo charged gasoline engine with manual gearbox) to fulfill all my driving needs. What this corresponds to in a diesel, I do not know? Why I need so much power is mostly because I normally cruise around 170-200 km/h when driving on the Autobahn, which is about 70 % of my total km/year. It is also nice to have this amount of power when you want to haul something or driving with a fully loaded car.

      • As mentioned many times before, horse power and torque figures are meaningless without showing their curves over the rev band. What we all seem to like in a Saab is a strong and flat torque curve, which leads to relaxed driving (and going over the speed limit all the time). A turbo charged diesel is even better in this than a gasoline engine, it will pull like a tractor, although you will have to get used to the short rev band. What used to spoil the fun in the past was the roughness of the engines, you want the pull of a tractor but not the sound and vibrations. With the modern diesels this should all be sorted out.
        For a daily driver I definitely would put a turbo diesel on my short list.

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