Till’s Saab adventure

Till72 is a SU regular living in Germany. He owns a Saab 9-3x and pretty soon, he’ll be heading off to the Saab Ice Experience for a bit of ice driving and ice hotelling.

Prior to all that, though, he’s been having a few more localised adventures. This is what he’s been doing.


Driving a couple of 9-5s, including one owned by Rene Hirsch

Early in the morning, last Wednesday, I was heading towards Sankt Gallen, Switzerland to get a new goodie for my Saab 9-3x. This alone would have been exciting enough but in addition I had a special appointment that day.

But first, I have to rewind a little…..

A week earlier my dealer was kind enough to leave his Aero6 to me for two days so I could get a proper impression. One night I took a ride on a route I often take, in normal life and when I test drive a car. It’s a small winding road with some hills, some serpentines and at the end a few kilometres of Autobahn. The Turbo6 was super impresive – not for a single moment did I feel that the 9-5 was underpowered when accelerating out of the curves or overtaking. XWD and drive sense do a great job and I had it to “intelligent” all the time. I even tried to overdo it a bit in some occasions but nothing really could ruffle the car.

As I got on the Autobahn, I had no traffic ahead (it was quite late) and the road there is absolutely straight so I kicked the pedal down and the 9-5 accelerated eagerly until the HUD showed 252. I lifted my foot a little as there were some bends ahead (I’m a bit shy when I’m driving someone elses car), which I took at 240 without feeling unsecure for a second. To prevent comments about going that fast on public roads: I was literally alone on the Autobahn at that time.

I came away with a very good impression of the Aero V6, which was useful as I had another V6 to drive the next week 🙂

That brings me back to the trip to Switzerland. We had real Saab weather on that day. First sleet, then snow, then sleet again. As I crossed the Swiss border it was snowing heavily, one of those days when you’re even especially happy that you’re in a Saab.

As I arrived at Hirsch’s service area, I handed over my car keys and Manfred from Hirsch and I went up to the dealership where René Hirsch handed us the keys to his personal Saab 9-5 Aero V6. I can tell you that I was pretty excited getting the chance to drive Mr Hirsch’s own car. So with Manfred as navigator I went for a spin through that heavy snow…

I had expected that this test drive would be somehow slower than the week before. Swiss law makes speeding quite expensive to start with. And with the weather, it was maybe the slowest test drive I’ve ever done (remember, I’m shy when I drive someone elses car). Nevertheless it was an excellent test for the handling under those conditions. On our trip we took small, hilly and winding roads and had at best up to 20cm of snow with ice underneath. We passed quite a few cars that could not get up the hills but XWD had absolutely no traction problems.

Towards the end of the test drive we had some clearer roads and I could experience the performance of the engine and the tweaked suspension a bit better. The car feels sportier than the standard version but is still comfortable. The 20“ wheels also play their role in improving handling and they look just awesome.

The extra kick in acceleration with that 330 hp/430Nm performance upgrade is the icing on the V6 cake. We went on the Swiss autobahn where I had the chance to feel acceleration up to some speed I won’t mention here but you can really feel the additional thirty horses. I would have loved to take it to top speed but I have no doubt that you can reach the 260 kph (electronic) limit.

It’s no secret that I’ve always been a fan of the Hirsch stuff. Now I am even more so, and I’d recommend the upgrade to Aero6 owners who’d like some extra driving pleasure.

Secretly I hope to get a chance to try that car again in dry conditions someday… 🙂

As we came back to the dealership I took a look at the showroom which was filled with eight Saabs and ten Lamborghinis. Even though I am not a particular fan of Italian sportscars I have to admit that it’s much better if Saab is to share a showroom with Lamborghini than, for example, with Opel as it was quite often here in Germany.

I can predict quite a few comments as I write this and to those concerned about engine power, I say this: those 330 hp are well suited to the 9-5. Most people would even be fine with the 300 hp base version but those ten percent more power add more than ten percent of additional fun. Combine it with the tweaked suspension and the 20“ wheels and you’ve got a real sporty but comfortable car. It may not be enough to race a 911, but that’s not the purpose of a 9-5, is it?

Thanks again to Andi at Autohaus am Goetheplatz in Munich and René and Manfred at Hirsch for making these experiences possible.

71 thoughts on “Till’s Saab adventure”

  1. Great story! Must´ve been exciting to get to drive Mr. Hirsch´s car.

    The question now is, what goodies did Till´s own 9-3x get there??

  2. Nice report! 🙂

    Here’s something off topic. It’s not even about Saab or cars, but about scarfs and Victor Muller:
    Swedish Göteborgs-Posten has an article about men and fashion. Apparently using a scarf instead of a tie is becoming fashionable, and Victor Muller’s appearance on Swedish TV on Sunday is seen as an evidence of the new trend.

  3. Nice reading!!
    It´s been quite Saaby weather in Finland as well. No problems what so ever – there a few FWD cars that ooze such confidence in poor driving conditions. I´m glad I own one 🙂

  4. Wow that car is incredibly sexy. And those photos, holy moly. 20″ snow tires? I’m drooling. This is how Saab should try photographing some of it’s cars- black but coated in white snow. Great report so far Till.

    I’ll say it again- this is one of the few car companies, let alone corporations period- where a casual owner can literally meet the top executives involved with minimal effort. They are traveling the world and going out of their way to bend over backwards to assure their customers on their viability and remind us of their outstanding attributes and value. It’s amazing that this extends to third parties like Hirsch with the company’s founder lending out his personal ride, just like Victor himself who let autoblog.nl run off with his brand new 9-5 when it first launched. Just amazing stuff, and I don’t think it’s reported enough how rare it is. It’s the kind of story that should be told in a commercial.

  5. Off topic comment: Saab stock is surging again this morning. Why don’t you get on board guys. That’s one way to help Saab.
    I think I’ve doubled my money. However the stock can be volatile. I watch the price every day and it seems to take a jump when there is good news forthcoming.

    • lets see ifthere is some announcement about antonov tomorrow. Is it anniversary of preliminary deal between gm and spyker tomorrow. Spyker stock is rising nicely, i do everything as i can to support saab, i am spyker shareholder and i own 2 saabs. Long live Saab!

  6. I live in Thn and thank god we dont get 95″ of snow here annually…I’d say the yearly average is maybe 20″ if even that…..travel up to the north of Sweden however where the winter testing grounds are and it’s a whole different story.

  7. Great story and check out all that snow Mr Hirsch’s car is making light work of. I wonder if the guys at Springmans are up for top speed run in their new Aero once that highway has been upgraded and I have enough money in my bank account to pay the ticket?

    Having said that I bet its been bought already!

    Am looking vorward to seeing what Till hd done to his 9-3X though.

    • £1011 (GBP) for the stage 1 ECU re-map.
      Not sure about the different dash, wheels and suspension etc no price details that i can find…I’m guessing at least another £7k on top looking at the reported pricing for 9-3 and og9-5 if you were to go for the wheels,pedals steering wheel, decals, brakes and suspension…. isn’ that around $14,000?
      Not sure if that’s worth it if it gets you she speed of a standard BMW 528i…but then you would have every conceivable toy that the beamer lacked plus XWD for that.


  8. I guess you´re living in Munich or near this Bavarian city and since you mentioned in this report your intention to have a further test with another V6 you could have gotten perhaps some experiences with the 6-cylinder engines of BMW and Audi in the past.
    So I would like to ask you if you could give us some comparing impressions of Saab 9-5, Audi A 6 and BMW 525 not only relating to the 6-cylinder engines of these cars but also of their general behaviour.

    • Well, BMWs behave quite funny on snow… 😉

      No experiences driving Audi or BMW, at least not within the last five years (though youre right that I live in Munich) and no real intention to drive one. What I meant was that I’d like to get my hands on that Hirsch Aero in dry conditions.

      • Perhaps the fact to live in such a city where the normal citizen is daily surrounded by colonies of BMWs and Audis may be the reason to drive a car of an actual niche-brand like Saab.

    • I just had a quick look and I’d say it was the standard exhaust. There are a few things that were on the car shown in Zurich that are in the final stages of development now, just like the leather dash.
      One reason the car had the tweaked suspension is that Rene Hirsch is the main test driver.

  9. Good news coming!. Spyker stock up 14.39% on the Amsterdam exchange today, 11% in the pink sheets OTC in New York.

  10. That car should be tinted!

    I think i know the reason – why Hirsch used 20 inch rims for new 9-5. They wanted a bit wider tire for improving braking (which probably a good idea with brembo big brake kit), handling and overall car exterior. Times before Hirsch used Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires in their wheel kits, which are gone and replaced with all new 2011 Michelin Pilot Super Sport (Not just pilot sport 3 which is lower end tyre). But it is not available in 255/45R18 and in 255/40R19. But you can get them with 255/35R20. Also those R20 michelins marked as OPEN ZR which means faster and more advanced than regular Y rated tyre.


  11. Any interior pictures?

    Superwide tires are not good in snow. Guess 205´s would be better.

    • No interior pics because there was nothing new to see…

      Had a chat with Manfred about their plans for the interior and I’m currently working on some more info.

  12. Being a swede and as slave under the jante-law i have to say the 9-5 looks to much of what is not a saab with 20″ rims. They are vulgar and not very practical. Its a big car and it needs big rims to look proportional, but i would feel silly driving around in a 9-5 with those rims. 19″ is more than enough and probably 18″ is what fits it best. Rims 20″ size only make you look around for the beamer guy that owns the car.

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