When I first heard about Saab mounting the new DI 2.0T engine from the 9-5 in the 9-3 Griffin, I just thought with a little help from Switzerland, that car could be the perfect Viggen successor. Later I learned that Hirsch was updating that engine to 260hp/400Nm not only in the 9-5 but also in the 9-3. From that day I knew the Saab 9-3 Griffin FWD 2.0T + Hirsch will be the most fun to drive Saab since years.
I still have to drive it, but Till72 had the pleasure last Friday. You can read his thoughts after the jump.
Flying the Griffin
At first I’d like to take you a back in time. It was in ten years ago when I bought my first new Saab. It was a 9-3 SE with 185 hp, a Turbo Anniversary model if I remember correctly. I really loved that car, it was extremely quick, a bit raw with lovely torque steer but still great on long trips. When I got the car back then the first thing I did was taking a trip through Sweden, up to the polar circle, using as many dirt roads as I could find. I did nearly 10.000 km within a bit more than two weeks – still one of my most favourite road trips. I enjoyed that car for two years and as the lease ended I stepped on to the next generation of the 9-3.
I think that either with my own cars or loaners I got, I’ve driven about every engine that have been available for the current 9-3 and despite many were more powerful and for sure all of them were more refined than my good old hatch none had that special driving feel (it’s hard to describe but I guess many here know what I mean).
Now let’s fast forward a bit to last Friday. I went to Sankt Gallen to visit Manfred at Hirsch. As we had a coffee he handed over a key and said “This is what we will be driving today!” I instantly had a smile on my face and asked “Griffin? 260 hp?” He confirmed that and after we had done some business stuff it was finally time to take a ride and find a place for lunch. To be able to do a proper test, we chose a place a bit higher in the mountains.
Manfred lead me out of Sankt Gallen and as soon as we got out on those winding Swiss roads and I put my foot down I got a driving feel like I had it back in my first 9-3. On the entire trip the highest gear I used was 3rd – it was just pure fun to accelerate out of the bends and dare traction until the ESP smoothly stepped in. When accelerating on quite steep hills it feels like the road was flat and overtaking is pure fun. With 260 hp and a torque of 400Nm you always have plenty of power without any turbo lag and if you already smile from ear to ear with the standard 2,0T you may smile all around with the Hirsch upgrade.
For I am one of those who think that a Saab has to be a 4-cylinder, at least in the 9-3, this car is just perfect. May I call it ultimate driving machine? 😉 Since my ride in that car a few days have passed but I am still smiling. Yesterday I went on an off-road quad tour which was great but it didn’t exceed the amount of fun I had on Friday.
You got to know me as someone who always was asking for a XWD Diesel. But last Friday changed my view a bit. When it comes to driving fun, that car, maybe with some additional Hirsch goodies regarding suspension and wheels, would be just perfect for me. I’d recommend the update to all who got/get a 9-3 with the latest 2,0 T. Your dealer can install a ten day trial software as soon as it’s available (homologation is still to be finished) but be aware: it’s quite likely you may want to keep it.
I’m sorry for the TurboX fans, but the new Kid on the block has arrived. 🙂