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.

——

“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.

39 thoughts on “SU Hi-Po Challenge – Entry #2”

  1. Why not produce a series of 9-3´s with high powerHirsched TTiD´s with only basic equipment and loads of carbon fibre parts and assembly at Spyker? Light, with loads of power and still eco friendly…

    • Sounds nice. Would be a refreshingly different halo car. Could even be done on the training line at Trollhättan.

    • Assembly at Spyker means Lotus now, right? Either way I’m guessing it’s going to be $$$. Not to mention new NCAP rules mean the diesels are changing soon anyway right?

  2. So boring to read all kind of whining about eco friendly light cars. You got 1.9ttid with 200HP, what else do you need?

    what saab should have is redesigned bigger version of this: http://www.spykercars.nl/?pag=8 so it will be able to beat Merc GL in its class. There are no full size good looking SUVs.. And US cars like Escalade and Navigator are just not good enough

    And saab version of this http://www.autoblog.nl/archive/2009/04/24/spyker-haalt-plannen-voor-quattroporte-killer-uit-de-ijskast as competitor against S, 7er, A8 instead of panamera and quattroporte… Sharing platforms sucks with opels, but with spyker… It is great, at least.

    And of course Aero X.

  3. This is an interesting idea…
    A colleague got himself a 911 RS lightweight edition (993 3.8L) in 1996 (?), similarly priced as a fully loaded, but this one was at least 300 kg lighter no ac, radio, window openers, door handles, but 2 lightweight glassfibre seats, hood, etc. and only a limited number were produced. Less was more, and this car was incredible fun to drive according to him (not by me…)
    Could this be a way to create a “halo” HiPoLi (Light weight) edition?
    Absolutely!!! Great Idea!!!

    • Obviously he hates this…..Don’t forget Swade owned a Viggen “Halo car”. But when he threw all that stuff out about the “light weight” he was implying about how impractiacl our practical SAABs COULD BE if we wanted all that. So I get were he is going with this as now is not the right time. I think Hirsch is the answer along with spyker refining the existing cars. I too wanted an RS-4 chaser but Now that I realize My Viggen has no trouble beating up on 04 S4 V-8s I think we can keep it like it has always been “Responsible performance” with some help from hirsch or later down the road 4 years from now a new Viggen and it stll does not need to be 400 hp.

  4. This is in line with what I was thinking, going lighter and more hardcore sport.

    The problem is that with a 4 door, you should probably have some kind of rear seats, so a full roll-cage version could be tricky to make. If not using the cabrio as a base…?

  5. Also, I don’t know that this car would sell given that you can get one with all the doodads for not much more money which probably still outperforms the Saab. Sad but true 🙁

  6. Great idea!

    As Colin Chapman said: To add speed, you must add lightness.
    What BMW, Audi and Mercedes have done adding cylinders, power and kilograms. And more power.
    Look at the first M3. It was a pure racer. A lightweight with a furious fourcylinder giving almost 200 hp. And what is M3 now? Twice the cylinders. More than twice the power and almost twice the weight. We have now come to the point that the germans have a power war, just as the americans had in the late 60s.

    What I mean to say is: The first M3 is a true classic.
    Saab could do something like that.

  7. I agree with you that a Saab halo car doesn’t need to have 350+ bhp.
    If i think of toyota i instantly think of a prius. To me that is toyotas halo car.
    The Aero X is the most beautiful concept imo, but the one i think is the most saabish is the 9-X Air. Honestly i think 9-X Air would make a great halo car. It might need some technology to stand out more from the french cars. maybe a plug-in?
    Anyone with more knowledge can build on this idea?

    • This is what I think too. What is a halo car to do? Well, for VW Golf GTI we all know the story. But what about the Prius (the Volt, cough cough)? What about almost every convertible (at least after the Saab one)? They all drive home the unique selling point of the brand, as they want to be seen, whether it be simply that they are beautiful or have personality. It’s hard to take that further in just one Saab model really, it’s what it’s all about, at least from here on.

      • Yes I think the 500 is a halo car. Unless anyone wants to make a case for the Bravo.
        A marketing type telling the press that the Eos was a “Halo car” did not make it so. Its a status that need to be earned.
        The TT is such a car, a great number of A3s and A4s were sold to those who could not buy a TT. At the other end the 8C from Alfa lead to the Mito and the Guiletta.

  8. I guess this is going to earn me an enemy or two but I feel I need to say what I have to say.

    Just like the TS, I generally scroll on when another ‘must have’ posting about the 400+ HP so-called halo Saab appears. This is, in a nutshell, why: Just saw a driving impression of the latest Jag XKR with 500+ PK. Beautiful car, abundant power output but it appears all but impossible to get all that power onto the road. Even with traction control and a very intelloigent automatic gearchange, it is downright life-threatening to try and accelerate out of a corner. You will just end up doing a 180 or even 360 or even leaving the road altogether. So, if you want to actually drive that car (and I really, really do…), you simply cannot use all the power available to you. To drive it more or less safely while still using the available power and torque, you’d probably need like 70 cm wide tyres. So what is the use of having a car like that? Just to be able to say ‘hey, my car’s got 500 HP’? even though you can never do anything useful -or even useless- with them except doing a straight-line stretches with the pedal on the metal? And where are you going to do it? Not everyone lives near a salt lake or a circuit and most roads contain other traffic and aren’t suited to accommodate such performance. All you need at such speeds is a little stone or a bit of sand on the surface and it’s goodbye Johnny. And I’m not even talking about the law and similar trifles.

    Remember the old E-type? Beautiful, smooth, sleek, an absolute design icon, everybody loved it. But…too much power for the powertrain to handle, too primitive a tranny, too narrow tyres (there were no wider at the time), not enough braking power.. Ergo: the car killed lots of sons of rich guys before Jaguar woke up and did something about it. Like reducing the power output and improving the drivetrain and braking.

    If you want a really fast car that, in addition to an awesome straightline speed (250 km/h would seem enough to me 😉 ), also offers reasonable comfort (stripped-down cars are for circuits, normal people don’t buy them) and handles safely in corners and so can be used on the road in a more or less normal way, just shave a few hundred kilo off it and give it enough power for the drivetrain to cope with, but not more than that. Saab made that -imho- mistake before with the 9-5 Aeros. Great cars -in their 230 or 250 HP factory configurations- if you always drive in a straight line, don’t downshift or use the kickdown at high speed and never engage in a power take-off or a power slide in a corner. Virtually all testers complained about how they just couldn’t get all that power onto the road, even with the TCS on, and how this created potentially dangerous situations for drivers who aren’t in the Carlsson/Blomqvist league.

    A car that requires its driver to be able to compete in the WRC series is not a halo car, no matter how impressive the HP and torque data are. I think such a car would turn out to be a turnover killer in real life. Most Saabs are bought by people of average -or perhaps somewhat above average- driving skills who want a reasonably fast and ‘different’ but still very safe everyday vehicle. If you start selling cars that can kill you if you aren’t an experienced racing or rally driver then they will, after a few accidents by somewhat less skilled halo-car drivers, probably start vwondering if Saabs are really so safe as their marketing suggests.

    Ivo

      • I used the XKR with ónly’for an example but there are quite a few of those loose cannon around with zillions of HP’s. The Merc is one, but others have them too. I think there is even an Audi with like 750 HP and then there is the Bugatti Veyron with 1.000 HP. I mean, these are power outputs that fit a Grand Prix F1 car. In the hands of anyone else but a GP driver, these are simply murder weapons and/or suicide instruments.

        I used to own one that fit that description, albeit 45 years ago: the ISO Grifo. The most handsome-looking car (imho) ever designed (one of Giugiaro’s first designs), close to 400 HP, quite a lot for the period from a tickled Corvette small-block, but such a primitive suspension and drivetrain that the car was just incapable of staying on the road in even a drizzle. It actually was so overpowered (relatively speaking of course) that the (live!) rear axle started to detach itself from its anchoring points at one point!

        I know, of course, that chassis, suspension and drivetrain technology is a lot better these days but racing power should stay where it belongs: in racing cars. Because non-racing drivers haven’t become any better at driving than they used to be in the past, if anything they are now even worse because they rely on all that technology in the cars. Which, as we all know, is never 100% reliable and therefore shouldn’t serve as an excuse to sell overpriced and overpowered monsters to people who can’t handle them.

        Ivo

        • A man with a taste for Iso and Saab … something tells me the aforementioned 45 year time span has been interesting …

          • Well, not that many years actually… the Grifo was already a classic when I bought it. But, yes, some stuff did happen in between those two, and before, and after… But I guess I’ll refrain from reporting on it as that would probably make me quite recognizable. And I kind of like being kind of anonymous.

            Ivo

        • I completely agree with you. Having a car that overpowers its handling capabilities is only fun on a track. This is the main reason that I don’t crank up the power of my Viggen, even more torque would just mean that it would ‘claw’ even more to keep its grip on the road. After a while that gets kind of tiring.
          I don’t agree with your mentioning the Veyron in that same, overpowered, league. The Veyron is one of the few supercars which can put all that power to good use, even by a more average driver. The VW engineers did a great job in matching power to suspension, traction control, etc. etc. Of course this comes at quite a premium.
          The best example for the amazing handling of the Veyron I always find:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBfegzPWCJ8
          not many cars can race on ice like this.

          • Well, Gerrit, you may be right about the Veyron, I have never had the privilege to drive one. Captain Slow did but he just gassed down a long straight road somewhere in the Emirates in it so that doesn’t really provide a full representation of the car’s road performance, now does it? But the ice performance is pretty impressive, I’ll agree to that.

            Still, if TC or Launch Control or ESP or whatever kicks in every time you want to truly enjoy all that power during take-off or when going around a corner then what systems like LC and TC do in these situations is reduce and re-direct the power flow to the propelled wheels. When they are doing that, you probably don’t use more than perhaps 50% of all the power and torque the car can actually produce. The only time you actually can apply that power is on a long straight, like James May did in that Top Gear item I mentioned before.

            But, to me, driving isn’t just going ‘immer geradeaus’ with the pedal on the metal, I want to be able to negociate winding Alpine roads on my own as well, without help from electronic assistants, just to prove to myself that I can do it. So, and I’m speaking for myself only, I’d rather have a car that doesn’t have to rely on high-tech tricks just to stay on the road but ‘listens’ to what I tell it to do and just does it on my command. I mean, who is in control? The guy or gal behind the wheel or some box full of space-age electronics?

            So, in my way of thinking, the Veyron is an overpowered monster as well, but it has bags of advanced tricks on board that prevent the driver from using the cars full potential in order to keep him/her alive. If the Veyron had like half of that power only then maybe a skilful driver could enjoy it on his/hers own without holding an F1 licence.

            I hope I’m making some sense. And, I confess, I’m a hypocrite because, electronics or not, VW are at liberty to park a Veyron on my doorstep anytime they feel like it.

            Ivo

    • Talking about Top Gear this is what the new 9-5 needs (the petrol one a twin turbo V6). Throw XWD in there and Saab has a winner that will sell in Germany and the US like…
      Put 4-500 hp in a RWD and you potentially have a car that behaves like a turbo Merc on ice, all year round.

  9. Another entry from the US or UK, I presume? Wanting maximum acceleration up to 65 mph, and not interested in acceleration from 100-200 km/h?

    • Fair point Thyl. 30-50 and 50-70 are of more interest to me (mph, we view metric with suspiscion here in the UK and think its all some socialist plot 🙂 ). Sadly the missus wanted the bathroom AND the hallway painted on Saturday (she cleared off for lunch with her mother too.Typical) so I was short on time. Otherwise I would have tried to find more performance details. That said 0-60 flatters RWD, I think in gear times would be more competative. Also if I was caught doing 200 km/h here I would be in jail. And I’m too pretty for jail.

      • Fair point Thyl. 30-50 and 50-70 are of more interest to me (mph, we view metric with suspiscion here in the UK and think its all some socialist plot ). Sadly the missus wanted the bathroom AND the hallway painted on Saturday (she cleared off for lunch with her mother too.Typical) so I was short on time. Otherwise I would have tried to find more performance details. That said 0-60 flatters RWD, I think in gear times would be more competative. Also if I was caught doing 200 km/h here I would be in jail. And I’m too pretty for jail.

  10. Saab already has a full range of halo cars: Spyker.

    If one really wanted a Saab badged halo car, why not just do custom metal work + interior on a Spyker platform, sell it for $200k give or take + be done?

    I don’t understand why a halo car needs to be cheap? A Ferrari is not cheap. A Bugatti is not cheap. A Koenigsegg is not cheap. Nobody makes a true halo car that is cheap. GTi isn’t a halo car imho – the top end 911 variant (GT-whatever) serves that role… you and I don’t own halo cars because we can’ afford them… that’s what makes them halo cars… If one just wants a GTi, wrx/sti, S4, or a M3, a Hirsched up xwd 9-3 (with upgraded interior) would be fine, I would think.

    To some extent, I agree with the sentiment of this article. He doesn’t mention Lotus, but they are the prime example. If there are plans to make an iconic 9-2 throwback to the 2 stroke days, it’s a good opportunity to offer a variant that is stripped to the bare necessities + light + tight.

    Sticking with the power rules of Swade’s original proposal, why not HiPa drive like in the Volvo Recharge (except use the biggest motors like in the 600HP AWD mini)? (cost of course…) at least suits Saab’s environmentally sensitive image/sensibility…

    Personally, I’m just happy if Castriota et al. comes up with a next-gen 9-3 with all the proper saab stuff: hatchback, clamshell hood, curved windshield, proper leather, 3 spoke aero wheels, fewer design “embelishments”, and window switches between the seats where they belong! oh yeah, and awd hybrid availability please!

    James…

    • The term “halo car” is often used in automotive marketing and journalism to refer to the flagship vehicle. The term is derived from the halo effect, the tendency for a favorable trait to influence the perception of subsequent traits in a sequence of interpretations. These vehicles are usually, but not always, the most expensive, prestigious and largest vehicles in the line-up.
      To be fair James this came form Wikipedia so could be total rubbish. I think a well respected inexpensive car can be as big an inage booster as a super car. The TT and GTi did more to shift perceptions and boost sales than the R8 or Phaeton.

      • Yep. But apart from the meaning, there’s also a point about how it is used.

        When I first came across the word I think it was the VW Eos in 2007 – launching a convertible – and every paper was very didactic in mentioning that it was a ‘halo car’. As it was flopping, I think they used the term simply because it was a) different from what VW normally does, and b) it was more expensive too (It was the Peugeot convertible who ate their lunch that summer). So using the term was really a way of saying that it didn’t make sense for them in terms of sales. Kind of instructive usage huh?

        So it sounds like another import (after the dreaded Premium) from marketing speak – when your plan sucks bad enough to not make any real sense, try to make it sound smart and wait for people to rationalize it for themselves.

        By the way, what about the Fiat 500? Isn’t that what we’re really talking about?

      • Fair enough. One could look at an STI or M3 as a halo car in that sense, it gives added respect to the lesser versions etc. But then we’ve had those, SPG/Aero, viggen, turbox, etc. So it’s a mod to an existing platform + not as big a deal to produce as an all new car, and hopefully in the plan… If that’s all we’re looking for, a more powerful variant of the 2012 9-3 would seem to be the right thing (the base 9-3 is going to have to be super-cool + super saaby, so a performance upgraded version would be outstanding)… again, I’m not sure why it needs to be cheap. An M3 or S4 is not cheap. Even an STI is not cheap (when compared to an impreza)…

        I guess I think more in terms of R8 being the halo car, TT being a fun coupe/roadster people like, and S4 being a performance version of an A4… I guess all 3 give a halo effect to the brand, so it may be semantics…

        James…

  11. I like your “GTI” apprach Jon C.
    Peugeot 205 GTI, Renault 5 GT Turbo (87′ ), those were simple quiet affordable cars back then. And Halo- cars for a whole generation…from common french carmakers, on a limited R&D budget.
    The GTI concept lost a lot of his roots lately. They’re just full-option little cars with some fiers sportyness added. A (not so ) recent exception was the latest Peugeot 106 Rallye. Plain white, no luxury, steel ugly rims , but a ton a good driving fun.
    Sexy power to weight ratio, turbo-fun and good handling : thats the way Saab should go for their Halo-car.
    Useless to enter the horsepower competition.

  12. Fair point Thyl, my orginal reply is stuck in moderation so I am posting here. 30-50 and 50-70 are of more interest to me (mph, we view metric with suspiscion here in the UK and think its all some socialist plot 🙂 ). Sadly the missus wanted the bathroom AND the hallway painted on Saturday (she cleared off for lunch with her mother too.Typical) so I was short on time. Otherwise I would have tried to find more performance details. That said 0-60 flatters RWD, I think in gear times would be more competative. Also if I was caught doing 200 km/h here I would be in jail. And I’m too pretty for jail.

  13. The Roof is heavy carbon fiber is also a bit too flexible so…use the BMW M6 carbon roof idea and weave in a little titanium-it can be done. (SLS).
    Carbotanium monoconstruction is the way forward-its not cheap but here this John C has a point-what else can you loose to keep costs and wieghts down? What can we do to gain performance?
    That’s not just bhp BTW but efficiency, range and even practicality,

    Saab should never compete with RS/M/Evo/AMG that is not their space, but cleverly done they should come a close 2nd to the big boys with all the other Saab tenets intact-and that is how Saab has always been-the all round more capable machine for clever buyers that sacrifice very little compared to the competion-it’s not a one dimensional performance issue.

    My second point relates to R&D costs, Saab should continue their engine research- they seem to be good at it, they should back sell their expertise (I suspect they may be reaching this point already) This would mean out the costs of the Engine development or engine purchase via BMW-those Saab engineers are good-just look at what they did with a turbo charged triumph engine…their carbon busting research is market leading today they should capitalise on that and debenture that capital against new technologies such as the Koenigsegg Cargine efficiency programme.
    It is clear that efficiency hits mass demand-fits the Saab imperative and will ultimately “save the planet” or contribute at least to “sustainability”.

    Where does that leave the pure breed sports ethic? Well I think that’s where Hirsch come in…they should be the AMG/Alpine folks for Saab, as long as there is a mutual link between the two then is little can go wrong in that partnership, but the development and super sports costs should be firmly left to smaller scale organisations that will profit from such operations-and that is where Hirsh’s expertise lies-and where they will more easily succeed before Saab ever can.

    For the truly insane report to Keonigsegg and ask for your car to be Nordic Extreme:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqIiU513Ww8

    I hope that all makes sense because that is what I see happening-and in my mind its win, win once the new (I mean new, new) models come on stream.

    For these reasons I am not going to tender my own personal ideas on the development of a Saab Halo.

    But congratrulate this entry on some clear thinking.

    Toby

  14. after reading all of the hi po #1 and #2 entries and comments, i think everyone is off track. a lot of comments refer to saab needing tons of resources to get a project like this off the ground…which i think is completely false. i have the 2.8 v6 so while my comments will generally be geared toward that engine i believe the same can be said of the smaller 4 cylinder. right now there are tuners that are making 300+ hp with just simple changes to the engine management system. swap tubos, injectors and exhaust and these guys are pushing 400 hp. if these smaller companies and in some cases guys in garages can make this kind of power then saab certainly can. i’ve had my car tuned for two years now and have had no signs of excess wear from the extra hp and i even get better gas mileage on the highway (in town is lower due to a heavy foot). the car is much more fun to drive and i think a factory supplied high power car would have a fair chance of stealing a customer or two away from our german counterparts. we don’t need a lambo or ferrari as a halo car. when saab becomes stable enough to play in those areas…maybe. but right now we only need something to compete with the s, rs and m cars from germany.

  15. Ousaab. Yes, you could update the engine to 350 brake and potentially for a comparitivley low cost, as Mountune did for the Focus RS which retains a warranty. An M3 or an Audi RS is much more than raw BHP. The 9-3 xwd is a great platform but to compete with these cars it would take development cash they don’t have. The just launched RS5 with all the resources of VAG behind it has just been declared “not very good” by the motoring press.
    An M3 chaser misses the point. BMW builds a perfectly good M3 but they make money on 318i and 320d SEs.

  16. Interesting now that we’re focussing (somewhat) on weight. I still maintain that the RenaultSport approach is worthy for SAAB to consider. (? SAABSport? ) The Megane 250 is essentially Renaults halo car – unless you would rather the Clio but I digress….. Its the most powerful of the Renault range as far as I’m aware but its not the most expensive. Moreover, there are different chassis & internal options available without charge. If you believe CAR magazine and their Performance Car of the Year (CPCOTY) the Renault was able to hang with quite a crew of supercars throughout a multiday blast around the Alps and southern Europe despite costing a fraction of their prices. It trounced a Lotus and Cosworth Impreza along the way.

    So, could Saab go for a stripped-out 93 which is the purest expression of their engineering and handling expertise? How could they do it? Bolt a hardtop onto a 93 convertible body, strip out pretty much everything else – including the rear seats – and drive it all through a HOT 4cyl AWD that only comes wth a manual box? Worse things could happen.

  17. I’m with those who’re taking “halo car” or “hi-po car” to mean a beefed up version of an existing model, not necessarily adding to the lineup (e.g. SPG, Viggen, Turbo X).

    That being said, I’m personally not interested in a stripped down 9-3. I mean, it’s not a bad idea… but it makes me think of the younger people who gut their cars for less weight and end up riding in a stark cage on wheels with one bucket seat. I know this isn’t what’s being suggested with this entry, but that’s what it reminds me of. My point is Saab isn’t really a “young” person’s brand (despite being in my twenties), and this idea seems more along those lines. Saab is mature, innovative and makes the most out of compromise. I know there’re older people out there who don’t need a radio or a backseat, but… I question how many of them would buy a Saab 9-3.

    To me, the Turbo X seems like the logical type of candidate for this challenge, and I’m kind of surprised it didn’t do very well when it came out. It did seem to underwhelm journalists because it was too conservative and had a few flaws–but everyone seemed to like the aggressive exterior. I’ve yet to see one on the street, though I have seen a bunch of 9-3s of that generation, so I know people who bought those cars had to have at least seen it (I’m assuming).

    I don’t want another Turbo X flop, but it seemed perfect because it was a more aggressive 9-3 that seemed to be put together with the budget Saab had at the time. It wasn’t limited to the manual gearbox crowd, and there was even a sport combi version! I’m thinking it might’ve had a better reception if it had broke the 300hp line off the showroom floor. Maybe 350hp should be the starting point… You win, Swade! 😀

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