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.

GM Tech 2: How your Saab talks to your mechanic

Tedjs, our resident tech guy, has kindly provided this insight into the modern mechanic’s Swiss Army Knife – GM’s Tech 2 (or Tech II as you’d write it if search engines didn’t exist.)
I’d like to thank Ted for taking the time and giving us this insight into the little electronic doodads that control our Saab vehicles. Hopefully this will be the first of a few articles on this.
Enjoy the journey….
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If you really want to know what your Saab is thinking about when you’re motoring around town this holiday season, hopefully Santa will have dropped the following pieces of hardware off for you:

    A GM Tech II scan tool
    A CANdi module so the Tech II can talk to the high speed network on your Saab
    And of course the Saab software program for the Tech II

GM kindly supplies our school with all this hardware. All I needed was my Saab to give the Tech II something to do. My 2007 9-3 Aero has the turbocharged V6 and six speed automatic, so that is what will be referenced here.
Tech II
Tech II
A little background before we dig in….

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Speedparts Saab performance and tuning

I feel an overwhelming need to apologise to Speedparts, as I haven’t had them on the Parts and Performance links on the sidebar.
When visiting Trollhattan, especially during the Saab Festival, you’re quite likely to see a bunch of young men with hot Saabs, the guys wearing T-shirts with the following design on them:
Speedparts
Speedparts are based in Uddevalla and have heaps of experience modifying Saabs. As the name suggests, they’re performance specialists and have a full range of Saab performance parts and tuning systems.
The website is primarily in Swedish, so you may have a little trouble navigating it. Fortunately for those English-only types out there, Speedparts products are distributed in the UK by long-term TS sponsor, Elkparts. The Elkparts list of Speedparts products is here.
Welcome, Speedparts, to the TS family. And please accept my apologies for taking so long to get you on the sidebar.

How often do you change the oil in your Saab?

This one’s an issue that attracts some differences of opinion.
The options should be pretty straightforward. I’ve generalised the intervals based on 5,000 kilometer increments and converted these to 3,000 mile equivalents for you imperial types.
This entry originally featured a poll, a graphic of which is reproduced here.
OilPoll.jpg
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Our resident GM tech expert, Tedjs, has chimed in with some advice in comments, which I’ve reproduced below. This concerns not just intervals, but also the type of oil you should use:

Well, I would have to say you can never change your oil too often – but given the cost of fully synthetic oil, and the waste generated when oil is changed one could say that is almost a decision left up to the individual owner.
However (deep breath) –
– the oil life monitor that is used on modern Saab engines is a rather sophisticated software algorithm that uses information based on engine revolutions, operating temperature, startup temperature, drive time and other aspects to optimize the time (not really distance) between oil changes.
Think of it this way – you are changing your oil because of (what)? Not entirely because it gets ‘dirty’ (it is designed to retain contaminates) – the additive package wears out over time and oil loses the ability to do its job.
With that in mind, you can look at this example – a driver that does frequent short trip driving, with no highway driving might find that have to change their oil in LESS THAN the common 3000 mile oil change interval. A driver that drives under what might be considered ‘optimum’ conditions by the system may find that they can go up to 10,000 miles before an oil change. All vehicles recommend an oil change at least once a year.
Drivers in the USA (and all others) – perk up and pay attention to this. The oil life monitor in any GM vehicle has no idea what type of oil is being put into an engine, the ‘software’ assumes that the proper type (standard) and viscosity of oil is being put into the engine so that is what is basis its calculations on. If you decide to use a different type of oil (viscosity or brand) – than the oil life monitors opinion becomes somewhat invalid.
Saab vehicles sold in the USA (and other markets of course) require oil that meets the GM-LL-A-025 (European) oil standard. Some research on my part has found that very few brands oil meet that standard in the United States. Most GM engines – such as the high feature 3.6L V6 used in many new models are factory filled with Mobile One that meets the GM6094M standard or the GM 4718M (Corvette spec) which varies that of the European standard.
The GM-LL-A-025 standard is bit different in terms of how long the oil should be able to ‘resist’ breakdown and the Saab version of the high feature V6 engine (2.8L Turbo) requires oil that meets that standard. From what I have learned only Mobile 1 0W-40 meets those requirements and it is in print on the specification sheet for that oil. Saab recommends this oil be used in all of its engines from what I understand.
So – one of the most important considerations you should be paying attention to is that you are using the proper type of oil for your engine. And from there you should consider a change interval based on your driving style (or follow your oil life monitor if available).
Funny this topic should come up. I just had the dealer do my first oil change in my 9-3 at 7100 miles (11,000 kilometers). My oil life monitor showed about 8% left but they were ‘allowed’ to do it with that much life left (Saab pays for those first few oil changes). I generally do plenty of highway driving and have taken several long trips in my car so – the data seems to support the oil life monitors decision. The car had not used any oil at all in this time frame.
Hard to break the 3000 mile oil change ‘habit’ but given cost factors and longer manufacturer warranties on new(er) vehicle – one has to consider the facts.

Saab 900 HID Xenon lamps installation

It’s handy when the head of a car magazine is a Saab nut. Such is the case with TotalCar in Hungary. This installation guide was published recently there, and Ivan has worked hard at a translation and gained permission from TotalCar so that I can reproduce it here.
Trollhattan Saab provides no warranty to you about this process. It’s a translation only. You’re all big boys and big girls, OK?
Thanks very much to Ivan for providing an article that I’m sure will be of interest to some 900 owners out there.
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HID Xenon light installation DIY

Some blue lighting thing is coming. One light points to the sky but the other one illuminates the ground in front of the car, and I’m getting almost blind: it must be an aftermarket DIY HID xenon kit. I hate it, but really, it’s time to have one for myself.
HID Xenons
HID replacement set for H4 bulbs
Of course, I don’t need HID. The factory installed lights are perfect, especially since the mirror coating has been refurbished and the glass replaced. However, I was still interested and the set I found on Ebay- HID AKA High Intensity Discharge – was affordable, priced at 100 EUR. We can also buy them direct in Hungary nowadays, but I ordered it some time ago and just kept it on the shelf until I brought myself to tinker around with it.
HID Xenons
Electromagnet moves the light source back and forth
My Saab C900 uses H4 bulbs, so I have chosen a bi-xenon set for replacing them. “Bi” means that the low beam and the high beam are both xenon. It’s a little bit deceptive because even thought it is descrived as dual light, there is only one light source and a mechanism moves it.

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Saab Turbo X – all the facts

UPDATE – Click here to view a comparison between the Saab Turbo X and the Saab 9-3 Aero with XWD.
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I’ve got a lot of information about the 2008 Saab Turbo X scattered in various posts on this website. I think it’s high time that all the important stuff is combined into one big article on the car.
This IS the mother of all Turbo-X entries with heaps of information from styling to specs, from XWD drive to Xclusivity, as well as a big gallery of photos at the end.
So, without any further ado, here’s the book on the Saab Turbo X….

Saab Turbo X
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Overview

The Saab Turbo X is the showpiece, limited edition model that was designed to debut Saab’s new all-wheel-drive system, dubbed XWD, or cross wheel drive. Known internally as the Black Turbo project, the Saab Turbo X was designed in concert with the refreshed 2008 Saab 9-3.

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Saab Friction Testing

Seeing the Munich Airport has just taken delivery of some 9-5 BioPower emergency vehicles to compliment their Saab friction testing vehicles, I thought it might be high time to mention a little about these fiction testers. Saab are pretty well known as pioneers in this field and Saab vehicles are still fitted out today as friction testing vehicles for use all around the world.
Saab Friction Tester
Saab Friction tester
Friction testing was initially done with a trailer system, called a skiddometer. I’m not kidding.
As the administrations of busy airports found that trailers had certain disadvantages SAAB started in the late sixties to develop a friction-measuring unit, the SAAB Friction Tester, SFT. A fifth wheel, the friction measuring wheel, was installed in the rear of a SAAB car model 99.
Whilst the earliest Saab friction testers were 99s, the principal has been applied to all Saab models since, with 900s, 9000s and 9-5s all getting the conversion at one time or another.
Saab Friction Tester
Why measure friction?
Flight Safety is the main reason for measuring friction. As the transport aeroplanes became larger it became also more important to check friction in a better way than making skid tests as mentioned above. Scandinavia, particularly Sweden, has taken a considerable part in the development of friction measuring technique.
Among reasons for friction measurements are:

    * Determine friction characteristics of runways under winter conditions
    * Verify friction characteristics of new or resurfaced runways
    * Assess periodically the slipperiness of paved runways when wet
    * Assess the effect on friction when drainage characteristics are poor
    * Assess friction of runways becoming slippery under unusual conditions

How friction testing works
The measuring wheel was connected to the rear wheels of the car via chains and sprocket wheels. This means that the skiddometer principle is used and some 80 to 85 per cent of the braking force is used as propelling force. By selecting the teeth on the sprocket wheels and the diameter of the measuring wheel suitably the desired slip could be obtained. This slip is selected for operational measurements in order to reduce tire wear.
The friction measurements come from a fifth wheel accessed through the hatchback and connected to the rear wheels. The fifth wheel is lowered down and forced onto the pavement with a down force of 300lbs. A built-in 10 to 15 percent slip helps continuously calculate the friction of the surface. The friction tester is used to determine the braking conditions aircraft should expect on a particular runway during winter snow and ice conditions. Arriving and departing aircraft use the numbers to determine the safety of the runway as well as the necessary braking distances required for their particular operation.
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Modern friction testing Saabs are primarily customised by The Scandinavian Airport and Road Systems AB (SARSYS).
The SFT is programmed to measure in accordance with regulations issued by authorities such as ICAO, SCAA and the FAA and is designated for both operational and maintenance testing.

    * High-performance front-wheel drive car
    * Excellent maneuverability
    * First class working environment for the operator
    * Proven reliability in all climates, from the coldest parts of Northern Europe and Canada to very hot places like Saudi Arabia and Singapore
    * Large space in the rear provides unimpeded access to the measuring system, making service and maintenance work easy and comfortable.
    * Entire measuring system contained within the car, which retains it’s exceptional driving qualities.
    * Self-contained configuration provides speed and smoothness of operation.

SFT
In operational situations, the vehicle is immediately available for a measuring run. A runway friction report is available within just a few minutes after the start of the run. The SFT can be equipped with a TRACR II® system or radio data link to transmit friction data directly to a PC.
For maintenance measuring, which stipulates a wet runway, the SARSYS SFT is available with a watering system. The water tank has a volume sufficient for 23,000 feet (7,000 meters) of runway with a 1mm water layer.
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References:
Tradewind Scientific
Airport International
Fargo Airport
VTI
SFT

Saab 9-5 vs BMW 5-series

Sometimes the motoring journos don’t ‘get’ Saab. So it’s up to we Saab owners to sing the virtues of these little Swedish cars.
A three year old Saab 9-5 against a new 5-series? Any motoring journo worth his seat on the gravy train would scoff. Surely, given a choice, anyone would prefer the 5, yes?
Introducing Chris, an Aussie and for the last 12 months, the owner of a 2004 Saab 9-5 Aero.
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Saab 9-5 Aero A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go for a drive in a friend’s 2006 BMW 525i. We had all been out for lunch and he didn’t feel like driving home so I was given the keys. My usual ride is a 2004 9-5 Aero with automatic transmission and I was keen to compare it to the “ultimate driving machine.”
Technically this is not a true comparison as the 5 series BMW is not a direct competitor of the 9-5. It is also a very new design and a newer car than mine. Although I didn’t ask I believe the BMW I drove featured professional navigation, electric seats, full blue tooth kit and probably a few more gadgets that I couldn’t see (or find a use for). My 9-5 Aero is stock standard and the only option I would want (but unfortunately don’t have) is the ventilated seats.
The exterior
This comes down to personal preference. I prefer the previous 5 series exterior design and am not attracted to the current one. Of all the new BMWs i think the 3 series Coupe is the only good looking one.
Saab 9-5 AeroVerdict- On this count you know I will always prefer the 9-5 because that is the car that I chose for myself. I think the 2004 model year was a great combination of body kit and alloys. The new 9-5 is growing on me but I still prefer the older version.
The Driver’s Seat
The BMW’s seats, with full electric adjustment and memory, lacked lateral and thigh support and felt too short. A previous ride in the front passenger seat had indicated that the seats were uncomfortable and this drive confimed it. Whilst I didn’t slide around, the seats just didn’t seem right. The 9-5 Aero’s sport seats on the other hand provide lots of support, are very comfortable on long drives and look brilliant in their two tone grey/black leather.

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