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.