Trollhattan Visit – Day 3 notes

I did several important things today.

First, I drove the 2.0T version of the new Saab 9-5.

Second, I drove the 9-3x.

Reasons why they’re important will come out in the road test reports (of which there will probably be a few). What I can tell you now is that the 2.0T version of this car is going to make a lot of people very, very happy.

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Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to drive the diesel. I had one car yesterday (the V6) and one car today (the 2.0T). The test track cars were all the same – six V6s all with the same spec level – so we couldn’t drive the road cars we were driving.

Whilst I’m disappointed to not be able to comment on it directly from my own drive, the common theme that I heard is that a base model diesels with the normal chassis that were driven by journalists lacked some prowess in terms of handling because they didn’t have the chassis improvements that were fitted to the petrol models.

There was talk of excessive body roll in the corners, etc.

I’ll talk more about this later.

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We were at the Volvo test track today. Saab have their own small track in Trollhattan, but Volvo’s is a full test track with all kinds of roads and conditions simulated there. Saab has an annual contract with Volvo for use of this track and they now even have their own facilities building there.

We did a handling course and I can tell you that if today didn’t prove the virtues of XWD to the German press corps, then nothing will. It was raining all day, so we had a very wet track. Combine that with the daring of the Saab Performance Team drivers and XWD and you can probably understand why I’m about 3kg lighter right now.

Video coming soon.

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If you’ve ever doubted how seriously safety is taken at Volvo, then this should give you a good idea.

There is no smoking allowed at the Volvo test facility – indoors or outdoors. They did allow Saab to set up a small smoking area near the hospitality tent, however.

Two ashtrays, and three fire extinguishers!

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Saab factory tour on video?

Coming up!

The quality isn’t great as we were in a moving factory tour train, but hopefully it’ll still be worth seeing.

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Lots of writing and processing to do. Lots and lots still to come.

Saab 9-5 on handling track

I went for a ride with Stefan today, but it was not like this.

For a start, it was very very wet.

This video’s a great look at the car on the track and it gives a good overview of the new suspension system in the new Saab 9-5.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOqThNaCG_Y

This is an official video made by the experts contracted by Saab (G’day Charlie, et al). My video will make you sick with the way the camera was thrown around the cabin. Geez, it was fun.

Trollhattan Visit – Day 2 notes

The first day of our Saab 9-5 drive is done and dusted and it’s been a truly pleasurable day. I’m glad I got that initial drive impression up on the site because it’s been so hectic with this program, with so many people to meet, that it would have been a long time between posts otherwise.

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With all due respect to the many good reviews that have been written about the Saab 9-5 so far, this Saab 9-5 review from Autoblog is something to check out.

It came in via Mo in comments and as is mentioned by a few people there, this is definitely the most comprehensive and balanced piece I’ve read in the last 2 weeks.

Kudos to Chris Paukert for an excellent piece. His thoughts echo many of my own, but I’ll get to more on those later.

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The 9-5 that I drove today had a testament to the caution I tend to express over cars being over-laden with gadgets, thereby reducing the role that people feel they need to play in the management of a vehicle.

There’s a small dent on the car that I drove, on the rear of the car just to the left of the Aero badge. Apparently one of the journalists who drove the car in the last few days backed the car up, relying on the parking sensors to warn him of obstacles and neglecting to look in his mirrors.

My understanding is that behind the car was some sort of railing that was on top of a thin post. The post was too thin to be picked up by the relative position of the sensor and likewise, the railing along the top was too high up. Bang!

Having driving aids present doesn’t mean one is exempt from paying attention.

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I took the Saab 93 that Victor Muller drove in the Mille Miglia for a lap around the Saab plant today. What a car!

Funkier than a sack full ‘o grandpappies.

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I was also fortunate to sit at the VM table at dinner tonight. VM was holding court with members of the German press and there was a great deal of discussion going on, mostly in German. They all seemed to be quite engaged and interested in the Saab story, though. Good signs.

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I hope you don’t mind, but I took the liberty of selecting a little gift for Jan-Ake Jonsson on my way here, as a gesture of appreciation on behalf of the SU community. I had hoped to give it to him earlier tonight, but the chance passed me by. I’ll get it to him tomorrow some time. Photos will hopefully follow.

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I believe that Jan-Erik Berggren is on to something when he speaks of south-bound airplanes. Similar news was mentioned in another Swedish motoring publication some time ago and I believe it’s correct.

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I asked one expert here today the much awaited question – will there eventually be a manual option for the Saab 9-5 V6?

His reply “I believe there could be”

Me: “Can I quote you on that?”

Him: “Maybe not….”

The jury is still out, but I’ll keep asking around.

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Saab did over 2,000 simulated crash tests on the Saab 9-5. When you consider that there’s adjustments to the parameters of the car or the conditions of the crash test, that’s a heck of a lot of testing.

And that’s before you get into the wanton destruction caused by physical testing.

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More Saab 9-5 HiPer Strut for those who are interested…..

Whilst the same system also features in the OPC version of the Insignia, the Saab version is tuned quite differently, with specially selected bushes, dampers and settings particular to Saab.

Interestingly, the designated expert for the suspension area on the 9-5 launch is none other than Peter Johansson, the guy who was also behind the development of Saab’s XWD system.

There are some people at Saab who’s blood should be bottled and preserved. Peter’s one of them.

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I’ve got some great video to process tomorrow, taking you on a walk-through of the whole infotainment system. It’s the one area of the car that made the biggest impression on me today.

I’m not a gadget guy at all, but even I was engaged with all this. They really hit the ball out of the park on the technology front. It’s not just the number of features you can select, it’s the way they work and how they’re integrated.

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Tomorrow is the track day and another video with Kenneth Backlund from the Saab Performance Team beckons…….

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I have to be awake in 4 hours and 45 minutes. Time for bed.

Have a great one.

Saab 9-5 Test Drive – First Impressions

The first drive leg of the 2-day test drive is over, driving from Landvetter airport in Gothenburg to the Saab Launch Center in Trollhattan.

My allotted car was the big daddy – the 2.8T V6 Aero with XWD and every other three-letter-acronym you can ask for.

This is just a quick impression whilst I’m waiting for the presentation here at the Launch Center. And that quick impression is……. superb!

I’ve got heaps of photos and a little video, all of which I’ll get to later. But I can tell you this much right now:

Read moreSaab 9-5 Test Drive – First Impressions

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