Poll: The Saab ‘Aero’ name

There’s been some discussion in comments and I thought I’d bring the topic up to the front page.

The question at issue is the status of the “Aero” badge on Saabs.

In many markets around the world, you can currently buy a Saab Aero that doesn’t have the most powerful engine Saab offer under the hood. The Saab 9-5 2.0T Aero is the main case in point.

A brief and undocumented history of the Aero.

The Saab 900 didn’t officially have an Aero model, as far as I know. The name was conferred upon some versions of the turbocharged 16V model. I had one from 1985 that I constantly referred to as an Aero on this website, yet there’s no documentation that I’ve seen referring to it as such at an official level.

The Saab 900 did have a model called the SPG (Special Performance Group) in the United States and equivalent models elsewhere in the world were called a Turbo 16, or Turbo 16S. These had a full body kit, the 16v engine and some suspension tweaks. Many had an “Aero” graphic on the stereo system inside the car, which may be where the name came from.

A quick Googling for 900 Aero brochures and official namings that returned zero results supports this view, but I’m happy to receive evidence to the contrary.

Regardless of the particulars, the fact that the Aero moniker was attached to this model of the 900 started the trend of Saab’s performance model being referred to under the Aero name.

The first car to officially be badged as an Aero was the Saab 9000. This model was equipped with every electronic convenience available at the time, had the most incredibly comfortable seats and of course, the 2.3 HOT engine. It looked as good as it went and had all the amenity that Saab had become known for.

Following the 9000, the Saab 9-5 also came with an Aero model. Again, it was the best performing model in the range and was as close to fully loaded as a Saab came.

Shortly after the 9-5 Aero came the first generation 9-3 Aero. This is possibly the first time when Saab allowed some confusion to creep in with regard to the Aero title. At the same time they were selling the Saab 9-3 Aero, they were selling a Saab 9-3 Viggen, with similar top-flight equipment levels. The Aero had the 2.0HOT engine and the Viggen the 2.3HOT, as well as exclusive colors and interior trim.

With the advent of the new Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan, Saab brought in a new model range consisting of Linear, Arc, Vector and Aero. Typically, the Aero had the more powerful engine, something that was reinforced with the introduction of the 2.8T V6.

A few years down the track, however, Saab dropped the V6 engine in a majority of markets and this is when the Aero became something more akin to just a trim level, with body kit, suspension and interior being the differentiators.

Today, in the US, you can buy a Turbo4 Saab 9-3 with XWD that is not an Aero model. You can buy a car with the same engine, but as an Aero model, for around $6,000 more. Both cars have the same 210hp engine. The difference is in the level of trim and equipment.

The 2011 Saab 9-5 sedan with V6 is also available in the US as both an Aero and non-Aero model (known as the Turbo6 XWD). Both share the same V6 engine and XWD system with differences being in trim, gadgets and suspension. Outside the US it’s even more flexible, with some markets offering a four-cylinder car with an Aero trim level.

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Saab will argue that this type of nomenclature gives people choice. If people want the best trim package they can have it, and in the case of the 9-5, they can have it with the engine of their choosing.

What I’ve read in comments, and what I think personally, too, is that the Aero designation should be for something special. The top of the range model not only in terms of trim, but in terms of engine output as well. It should be distinct.

Perhaps, if Saab had access to more engine options and tuning levels in all countries, this might be the case.

To the poll, then…….

When should the Aero badge be used?

View Results

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Ed K.
Guest
Ed K.

In my view, the Aero name has already lost its cachet as a name for a halo model of a Saab, This name has been eroded steadily over the last 14 years, and am not sure that it can be redeemed at this point. It would cause to much confusion at this point if it were only used for exclusive models (people would look at other cars already out there, and wonder if the extra money is worth the badge). Unfortunately, I feel the only option is to bring back the Viggen name to be used as the ultra high… Read more »

Thylmuc
Guest
Thylmuc

Since Saab Automobile no longer builds aircraft, a name with such strong association to aviation should not be used at all. It is a bit dishonest.

If the assembly line is really as flexible as has been rumoured, Saab should hence start building a four-seater general aviation plane, based on the 140 kW Diesel engine

Duckaway

Matt
Guest

I think the differentiation used for the 9000 was the most apt use of the ‘Aero’ badge. Order the 9000 Aero and you got a five door supercar, a little short on the options, but a sports chassis, sublimely grippy seats, a stonking engine, and a nice aero kit. Order the 9000 Griffin and you got the most luxurious car Saab could produce at the time – the only option was what colour it came in (and between a V6 or the B234). Sure, you could order an Aero with all the toys, but it wasn’t about it having the… Read more »

andha
Guest
andha

For me the Aero name should be linked to high power versions. But the perfect solution would be to offer Aero trim with the highest power version of each engine type. Highest 4 cyl version, highest diesel version, highest 6 cyl version and so on. The perfect middle way to restore the feeling towards the Aero-name.

Finn
Guest
Finn

Where is the Griffin model in this line-up ?

Martin Bergstrand
Guest
Martin Bergstrand

The Saab dealership organisation in Sweden used to publish a magazine called “Bilen i dag” for their customers. In the #2 1984 issue, covering the all new Saab 9000, there is also an article on the new Saab 900 Turbo 16, also referred to as the Aero. Quote; “Efter presentationen av den nya 16-ventilsmotorn på Brysselutställningen i januari i år, där den bland annat fanns monterad i den nya Aero-modellen, var intresset mycket stort. Motorjournalister från hela världen stod bildligt talat i kö för att köra en bil med den nya motorn” Translation: After the presentation of the new 16-valve… Read more »

Sven van Dijkman
Guest
Sven van Dijkman

Don’t forget: Saab used Aero for the Aero X concept. It still has a high halo potential.

Why hasn’t anybody an answer about the legal status?

And finally: the Linear and Vector trim levels lack emotion, feel too much GM and should be phased out asap. A new name set up for Saab is needed and it should be clear, consistent and appealing. Use this site for it, Saab!

Tor Jr.
Guest
Tor Jr.

Have a 1985 SAAB “AERO” in my showroom. Has 22.500 miles on it & has never been titled. Purchased from SAAB CARS USA in dec. 1984. Chassis # ends in 50 , car is pearlescent and is definately an “AERO” to which I also have SAAB”s “Promo” kit and press release. Ther are only 3 or 4 of these cars in USA and I personally have names & phone #’s to 2 of those owners. This topic has come up often, and is a little known true fact. Cars were used for shows, promo’s and car magazine tests!

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