Saab 9-3 TTiD owner review

I’m pleased to be able to present this review, sent in by Stefan in Belgium.
I have very, very fond memories of the Swedish highway system thanks to a Saab 9-3 TTiD, one of which is Par Brandt from Auto Motor and Sport looking over and saying “we don’t overtake like that here…” ๐Ÿ™‚
As I found out last July, the TTiD is one buttkicker of an engine. Stefan is finding that out himself right now!
Click any photos to enlarge.
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In 2006 I bought my first Saab. A Chili Red 9-3 TiD (150 bhp) Vector Sport (with Aero trim). I loved the car but it lacked some power so I had it Hirsched. Unfortunately I totaled the car a month or two ago (very short story: I turned left and didn’t see the other car and got hit in the passenger side. Nobody got hurt, but my car was a total loss)
Saab TTiDLuckily I had ordered a 2008 9-3 Aero TTiD. Here in Belgium, you can only get the TTiD in Aero trim. Since I was used to the 175 bhp from my Hirsched 2006 9-3SS, this was the only choice.. And let me tell you, it’s a good choice!
It’s Jet Black with the brushed aluminum side mirrors, 18″ wheels, Black Premium Leather Seats, Navigation, BlueTooth, 300w Bose and some more. Since I make about 45000km/year with my car I decided to drive them in comfort and style.
This car is unbelievable! It drives like a 6 cylinder. It pulls from 1500rpm and doesn’t stop… It just keeps on going. The overtaking power is enormous.
Saab TTiD
Some may consider getting a Hirsched TiD but let me tell you, the TTiD is in a whole other league! The Hirsched TiD has some turbo lag, but the TTiD engine responds immediately if you push the throttle. No turbo-lag. Remember the sketch of an exhilarated driver Saab made a few years ago? That’s the feeling you get when you floor the throttle on this car…
Every minute I’m not driving it is a minute lost.
In the two weeks I’ve had the car, I’ve driven about 2500km. The changes they made are incredible. It’s much quieter, less wind and tire/tyre noise, no rattles or squeaks AT ALL! The steering feels a little more direct than the 2006 model. The suspension is great. The 2008 Aero sport suspension with 18″ wheels is more comfortable than the 2006 Aero sport suspension with 17″ wheels.
Saab TTiDI love the new interior. It’s very clean and organized. While waiting for my new car, I drove my parents BMW 525D and I hated the interior: Too many small buttons, too many places to get your information. I spent more time looking which button to push than looking through my windshield.
At first I (as many) was a bit skeptical about the new interior, but it’s great. I even love the “batwing” steering wheel. Also the interior is a lot better put together than my previous car. The dual exhaust makes a very nice sound. You can hear it growl for more.
The only downside about the car is that it’s not possible to get XWD on a diesel engine. I would’ve bought it in a heartbeat. I would love to have 400Nm and 180 bhp on 4 wheels and I know I’m not the only one. It would definitely sell in Europe. Hopefully Saab is clever enough to make it available in the near future.
If you get a chance, go and test drive this car…
Saab TTiD

BSR tuning for Saab 9-3 TTiD

Swedish tuners and makers of the easiest re-tune module going around, BSR, have added the new Saab TTiD to their list, to awesome effect.
In standard form, the Saab 9-3 TTiD produces 180hp and 400Nm. I drove one of these in Sweden last year at the 9-3 launch and it was pure joy with its dual sports exhaust growling like no other diesel I’d ever driven.
BSR tuneBSR’s new tune will boost the TTiD to 213hp and 450Nm. As you can see on the dyno chart (click to enlarge) the torque is all available down low where you need it.
This gives the TTiD driver a 20% reduction in getting up to overtaking speed, from 80km/h to 140km/h in just 9.1 seconds in fourth gear (vs 11.5 in standard tune). From 80km/h to 110km/h in third takes just 3.3 seconds.
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If you’re unfamiliar with BSR’s stuff, I’ve written about them plenty of times (here, for example). The beauty of the BSR system is that there’s no need to remove your ECU as a part exchange or send it away for re-flashing. The BSR unit connects to your car via cable and downloads the tune information directly. When you want to return your car to it’s original tune, you just hook it up again and away you go.
BSR do tuning for a huge rage of vehicles and their units are available at their own website, or Saab tunes only at Elkparts. There’s a video at the Elkparts link to show how the whole system works.
Thanks Turbin!

Saab 9-3 Viggen Review

Continuing the weekend’s Viggen love-fest…..
If you own or otherwise love the Saab 9-3 Viggen then you’re going to find at least the first part of this review difficult. You may even want to throw something at the screen. Hang in there.
It gets better. Much better, in fact.
The following comes from Fifth Gear’s Modern Classics section.
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The previous generation Saab 9-3 will never go down in history as one of the all-time great classics. Indeed, in Saab circles, the car is positively frowned upon for not having the requisite weirdness, longevity or left-of-centre image as the brand would have liked. Then, of course, there was the simple and unavoidable fact that, under the skin, there lurked the platform and basic running gear of a 1988 Vauxhall Cavalier. Not even a Vectra, but the five-door hatchback beloved of minicab drivers, banger racers and Ispon P40-wielding wheelarch repair fanatics.
To fans of the marque, the previous 9-3 was what could be deemed ‘not a proper Saab’. egatives aside, though, let’s look at what the car did have going for it. First of all, the wheelarches weren’t as rot prone as those on a Cavalier. Secondly, by the time the 9-3 debuted in 1998, there had been some major tweaks to ensure the original platform was at least capable of mixing it with modern traffic, unlike the outwardly identical 900, which used unmodified Cavalier running gear.
Saab 9-3 ViggenThird, and perhaps most importantly, was that despite the creativity-crushing presence of parent firm General Motors (a wilderness that, thankfully, the US giant appears to be slowly withdrawing from), there was still a bunch of hardy enthusiasts plucking away at keeping the traditional virtues of the Saab brand alive and well.
These were men who remembered the days when the 99 and 900 Turbo models not only introduced the world to affordable, accessible turbocharged saloon cars, but also gave a rip-roaring debut to the delights of torque steer, neck-snapping turbo lag and the adrenaline rush of driving a car that, although flawed, was brutally quick and utterly exhilarating.
By day, these same men were churning out interior redesigns to try and disguise the switchgear of old Vauxhalls on silver diesel-powered rep-spec 9-3 hatchbacks, but by night they were busy working on a car that would share its name (and performance characteristics) with a fighter jet.
The work of this covert performance division finally resulted in the 9-3 Viggen, which made its debut in 1999.
Power came from a heavily tweaked version of the 2.3-litre engine used in top-of-the-range 9-3s (and, refreshingly in a GM-policed environment, still exclusive to the Swedish maker), while visual identifiers were suitably subtle, yet noticeable.

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PA Johansson’s awesome 800hp Saab 9-3

I haven’t written much about performance Saabs lately. I think it’s one of the side effects of having the Viggen laid up and waiting for repair. Tuning a 900 like mine any further than what’s already been done to it would just seem a little irresponsible.
It was a real pleasure, therefore, to receive this link on PA Johansson’s brilliant 800hp Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan. I saw this vehicle at the Saab Festival in Sweden last year but unfortunately it wasn’t running at the time.
We’ve seen scattered coverage of this car before, including some video, but this writeup is especially from a modified car enthusiast’s perspective and details the full story behind this incredible vehicle.
Yes, it’s probably quite impractical for day to day use, but there’s something about this sort of thing that gets the heart pumping in a big way…..
Saab 9-3
I’ll let you click through to the story to read it in full. Aussie readers of Street Machine back in the 1990s will find the text style quite familiar ๐Ÿ™‚
Just have a look at the modifications done, however, and you’ll realise that building a car like this is one heck of a detailed and expensive proposition.
And yes, those 800 horses are coming from a Saab 2 litre engine.
ENGINE
2.0-litre, four-cylinder 1994 Saab 900 engine, standard head ported by Mike Billet, custom head bolts, 90.8mm bore, 78mm stroke, Trollspeed 34mm inlet valves and 32mm outlet valves, Wargia/Trollspeed adjustable valve timing and adjustable cam tensioners, Piper 298-degree cams with 12.9mm lift, JE pistons, Verdi rods, 9.35:1 compression ratio, oil filter removed, SETRAB oil cooler, Spal fan, 8 x 720cc Siemens injectors, 3.5 bar fuel pressure with TWM fuel pressure regulator, 40-litre ATL fuel cell, custom catch tank with two Bosch 044 fuel pumps, 1.5-litre catch tank with double filters, two high-pressure fuel lines, Wargia custom fuel rail, Henrik (Jesus) custom four-branch manifold with 44.5mm pipes, two Tial 38mm wastegates, two Tial dump valves, Turbonetics/ITS T76 turbocharger, 3″ pressure pipe from intercooler to turbo, 3″ stainless steel exhaust system with 3.5″ downpipe, Racecoolings custom intercooler, Racecoolings radiator, TIBUC and Trollspeed water pump, Pectal T6 ECU TRANSMISSION Tractive five-speed sequential gearbox, AP Racing carbon fibre 200mm triple-plate clutch, Trollspeed lightweight flywheel, Tractive four-wheel drive system, Tractive hydraulic programmable active differentials: Tractive 3.31:1 rear differential with Volvo 850 steel diff housing, Sellholm Tuning 3.31:1 front differential, Svea Bid hybrid Volvo/BMW driveshaft
PERFORMANCE
Max power – 802bhp, max torque – 775Nm at 2.9 bar boost using 105 octane race fuel
SUSPENSION
Forza customised Bilstein coilover setup front and rear, custom made setup by Pelle at Wargia
BRAKES
Front: Tarox twelve-pot calipers with 380mm discs and 2006 Saab 9-5 custom hubs.
Rear: Tarox eight-pot calipers with 360mm discs and 2006 Saab 9-5 custom hubs
WHEELS & TYRES
10x20in BBS RS GT wheels, 255/30/20 Yokohama Advan Sport tyres
EXTERIOR
Saab Diners Club Racing Team carbon fibre front spoiler, carbon fibre front arch panels, carbon fibre rear arches moulded into metal panel (6-7cm wider arches front and rear), carbon fibre extension for rear bumper, Swedish Composite Engineering carbon fibre boot lid and roof, standard Saab Aero side skirts, standard aluminium bonnet with pins, Wargia Engineering rear wing, Porsche Titan grey respray with custom Saab griffin graphics.
WEIGHT
1325kg wet with 56%:44% weight distribution
INTERIOR
Race certified Rally Products multi-point roll-cage, rear seat removed, Sparco Evo VTR bucket seats, Sparco 3 harnesses, Tilton pedal box, Wargia Engineering steering system, Sparco snap-off steering wheel, carbon fibre floor plates, custom centre panel cover to cover mounted-further-back engine, standard Saab dashboard with carbon fibre inserts, VDO gauges, WIKA boost gauge, Aim dash data logger, custom centre panel for automatic fuse switches, red button for fire system, Wilwood rally-spec handbrake. In boot: 40-litre ATL fuel cell, custom catch tank with two Bosch 044 fuel pumps, two separate fuel lines to engine, high pressure Fogmaker water sprinkler system, carbon fibre panels in boot floor and sides

Saab Turbo X: best review yet

Thanks to Jamie W for sending me a link to the best Saab Turbo X review I’ve seen so far.
It’s not the best because it’s a glowing piece full of nothing but praise. Not at all. As a matter of fact they only award it three stars out of five, which isn’t exactly fireworks and marching bands.
It’s the best review I’ve seen because it’s objective and honest, and it doesn’t resort to lazy prose to tell you the story of what is Saab’s most advanced vehicle to date.
The review is from Fifth Gear.

Never mind the looks, though; what really matters is what you can’t see, its four-wheel drive. This is Saab’s first ever four-wheel drive system, but it’s one of the most advanced in the world – as well it needs to be, given that Audi’s famous Quattro system came to market many years ago – and General Motors was so impressed with Saab’s work that the Swedish company will now lead all of GM’s future work in this area…..
….Probably the most important thing is that, yes, the XWD does its job, but you have to really concentrate to spot it in action. That alone is a sure sign that Saab’s engineers have done their job well….
….Away from the track and out on the road, it’s that feeling of safety that is the abiding memory of a drive in the Turbo X. You may not have the kind of sensations that you would in a BMW 3 series, for example, but for crossing country in comfort at a decent lick, this Saab is hard to beat.

That’s a taster for you. There’s three pages of it and anyone considering the Turbo X should read it.
It’s not the best car in the world, but it’s the best 9-3 that’s come so far, and if you’re into Saabs then this is the ducks guts.

EnG Saab 9-5 SE Update

As regular readers know, I bought a 1999 Saab 9-5 last month, and I’ve enjoyed driving it.
But I must say, I’ve not enjoyed fixing it.
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UPDATE: I guess that I thought that it would be understood that since I bought an 8-year-old car, I bought into a few repairs (see comments on stereo, motor mount). As I said in one of the summary paragraphs, I expect to get my hands dirty a little. I went over this car pretty well at the time of purchase, I missed a couple of things, but my lament here is about two specific things: one, dumb luck that a few parts that worked well at the time of purchase failed in the first month of use, and two, that some of these failures are due to poor designs and/or manufacturing processes.
That is, this isn’t so much a “woe is me” whining rant as it is a frustration that our favorite brand is bitten by the same bug as many other manufacturers have fallen prey to: cheaper parts and less attention to longevity for better margins and/or competitive pricing. That’s all.
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2008 Saab Turbo X vs Saab 9-3 Aero XWD

I got an email last Friday from Saab USA. They’re concerned that there’s still confusion about the Saab Turbo X and the email had a presentation attached.
The presentation shows how, as an enhanced model, the Saab Turbo X is a greater special edition than the 9-3 Viggen was relative to the OG 9-3. This is a reasonable thing to discuss and shouldn’t be devalued, but devalue it a little I must, as it completely misses the point.
No-one’s shopping the Turbo X against a Viggen, so whilst that discussion will be a good one for a future Saab Owner’s Convention, it’s of limited relevance in the here and now. The one question people want answered about the Turbo X is “Why should I buy one instead of just getting an Aero with XWD, or waiting until 2009 when the Aero with XWD will have the eLSD (at least in the US market)?”
Saab Turbo X
I pointed this out to SaabUSA and they’re not able to provide the answer to that at the moment, primarily because the 2009 specs haven’t been set. Fair enough. But if they want to clear the air on the Turbo X, they’re going to have to address it some time.
So here’s a brief Trollhattan Saab comparison, based on known information about the cars.

Exclusivity

I don’t list this first because it’s the most important, not by any means. But you’ve got to start somewhere. I had a question on the site a few days ago asking if the Turbo-X would be continued in to the 09 model year, so it’s relevant to mention here.
The Saab Turbo-X will be limited to a worldwide volume of just 2,000 units for the 2008 model year only. Each country has an allocation, so if you want to get one, it’s not one in 2,000, it’s one in 600 if you’re in the US, one in 500 if you’re in the UK, one in 30 if you’re in Australia. I’ve got a number of national volumes listed here (along with everything else you need to know about the vehicle), but if your country isn’t listed you need to check with your national Saab organisation to see how many you’re getting.

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Mismanaging the Saab Turbo X

There’s been a number of comments on the Saab Turbo X in recent days, so I felt like this layover in San Francisco might give me a good opportunity to write down a few thoughts on the car and maybe tie some of those thoughts together.
The power
Given the current confusion over the Turbo X vs the XWD Aero, it seems plainer than ever to me that Saab should have boosted the power to around the 300hp mark as a prime differentiator between the Turbo X and the XWD version of the Saab 9-3 Aero that will follow it.
This always seemed like an absolute no-brainer to me anyway, but the lack of explanation from Saab mekes the situation stand out even more. So let’s deal with that….
The difference
The primary difference between the Saab Turbo X and the 9-3 Aero equipped with XWD for MY2008 is that the Saab Turbo X will feature the full XWD system – including eLSD – as standard. The XWD-equipped Saab 9-3 Aero won’t have access to the eLSD in the 2008 model year. That will come in 2009.
In addition, it’ll have some mechanical enhancements such as a strengthened gearbox and torque limits removed in low gears, it’ll have special trim and styling, and it’ll have the cachet of being a launch model for a revolutionary new system that’s produced in limited numbers.
When the XWD system was launched, Saab said that the eLSD unit would be an option for Aero XWD models but they didn’t say anything about that not coming in 2008. What they meant was that the Turbo X would be an optional model for purchase in 2008, but they couldn’t say that outright because the Turbo X hadn’t been unveiled at that time.
Now, if that last paragraph seems confusing, you’re getting an idea of how poorly explained and managed this rollout has been.
The real difference
So what we end up with is a car that’s meant to emphasise the XWD system and little-to-no publicity explaining this fact. The confusion about the Turbo X and the XWD equipment levels is a testimony to this – and this is amongst Saab enthusiasts, the people who should have a fast grasp on the situation.
Slow Sales
The good news is that despite all of this, Saab have managed to take pre-orders on a car that hardly anyone’s seen, relatively few people have driven, and one that hasn’t been advertised yet. Actual production of the cars to be sold hasn’t even started yet.
Publicity about the car has been limited to the news stories from the Frankfurt Motor Show last year, Saab’s own Turbo X microsite and the grass roots coverage of the vehicle on sites such as TS and others.
Despite this meagre coverage, they’ve managed to take some deposits on the car, which I think is actually pretty encouraging. SaabUSA have offered paces in the Aero Academy for the first 100 buyers up until January 31st. That’s one-sixth of their allocation for the entire country. If you can sell one-sixth of your volume sight-unseen and without any meaningful publicity then you’ll be feeling encouraged.
We’d all have liked to see the Turbo X sell out within a month of being announced, but the fact is that most of the market doesn’t know about it.
incentives
In my mind – and this is why Saab HAVE to do a better job of marketing this car in the next few months – financial incentives on the Turbo X cannot be an option.
The full XWD system is brilliant and it deserves a special launch model like the Saab Turbo X. This car deserves all the exclusivity it’s getting. It just needs to be spelled out better than what it has been so far.
But that takes us back to the power output. 300hp definitely would have helped in selling this car as it’s bottom line numbers like that that people look for when they’re doing their initial shopping. 300hp is definitely possible – Hirsch will likely make it so soon after the car launches, I’m sure. But it should have been there from the get-go.
the car itself
I’m very confident that the people who do put money down on this car aren’t going to be disappointed in any way whatsoever. The system is that good and enthusiasts do like the notion of having something that’s a limited edition. Viggen owners will know what I mean.
The Saab Turbo X will be one heck of a great car to drive and the limited edition trim and styling looks awesome. I’d have liked it if it went even further (carbon leather dash trim, anyone?) but overall, it still looks menacing. The wheels have caused some conjecture with one or two people, but I’m sure the incas on the 99Turbo did as well and they’re considered classics now. Personally, I absolutely love the new wheels. They’re probably my favourite styling feature of the car.
If you want to know what the Turbo X will look like with other 18 inch wheels, visit the NAIAS. There were some issues with the wheel caps at the Boston Auto Show, so Saab sent a new set of wheels for fitting prior to the Detroit show, only someone forgot to actually fit them:
Saab Turbo X
I like these double-blade wheels, but that vehicle above pales just a little in comparison to this:
Saab Turbo X
Now THAT is a limited edition performance car.
Summary
I think the Saab Turbo X will be one heck of a car. I’ve driven a car with the full XWD spec and it was absolutely brilliant.
I just think Saab haven’t done too well in spelling out what’s special about this car. The market expectation is that this will be a distinctive, high performing vehicle and Saab are going to try and sell its performance credentials on the XWD system alone. so far, in very limited publicity, they haven’t performed in that area. A power bump would definitely help the Saab Turbo X’s credentials as a limited edition performance vehicle.
It’ll be interesting to see, once the marketing does ramp up, what it will look like.
I believe that Saab will sell all of their Turbo X’s reasonably quickly once the campaign starts and I really hope they don’t slash the price to do so. They can’t do that on a limited edition anyway, especially when they’ve already sold some at the full price.
I’d have one if I could, and I heard from Steve Shannon that he’ll be interesting in picking up a SportCombi version with a stickshift. That’d be my choice, too.

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