I drove a Jaguar XF and……

Entries of this nature were made back in the Trollhattan Saab days under the title I drove a XXXX and here’s why I’d still buy a Saab. We haven’t done one for a while, but WooDz has recently had some time behind the wheel of Jaguar’s highly regarded new XF model.
I’ve abbreviated the title because rather than give a summary for his Saab preferences, WooDz spells out some concerns that I share for modern cars. The new Saab 9-5 will be the first Saab to incorporate all this new technology, so it’ll be interesting to see how it effects the driving experience.
My thanks to WooDz for the writeup!

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At the weekend I had the pleasure of driving the new Jaguar XF 3.0 Diesel. There were many miles ahead of me, some 800 give or take. So how would the XF hold up over a long period of driving? Could this luxury high-tech limousine tick all the right boxes for me? And does my 10 year old Viggen still have the best seats in the house?
jaguar_xf.jpg The WooDzettes and the XF
The first impression you get from the XF is pure elegance, it’s not a small car and the sculpted edges and wide stance create a presence you don’t easily forget.
Inside the car you are encased in a mixture of wood, leather and metal, driving home the fact that although the XF’s roots come from a Ford Mondeo, make no mistake this is not mutton dressed as lamb. Or is it?
As you look closer you realise that the wood is really plastic and the aluminum touches, for example on the steering wheel, are also plastic. However for some reason you’re still not phased. Maybe it’s because the main overtone still exudes that luxury feel, that the whole dash is covered in fine stitched leather and well; after all, it is a Jaaaaaag.
The XF’s showcase is the engaging of the ignition and as the soft blue dials come to life and the air-vents automatically open like the pop-up headlights of previous generation performance cars it definitely has that ‘wow’ effect. Once the engine starts up you can hardly hear anything from the oil burner that emits just a quiet purr.
On the road that purr doesn’t suddenly turn into a wild cat growl or roar – diesel engines just don’t do that – but they do give huge amounts of torque at very low revs and the XF’s 600nm gives it to you by the lorry load. At no point did this car ever feel under-powered.
jaguar_xf_2.jpg The handling is of the highest calibre and just when you think your speed is a bit too much for that corner, you just turn in a little more and there’s nary a squeak from any of the tyres. I’m sure the Jag can be pushed to its limits but for me that wasn’t the game. I wanted to feel like a king riding back to his castle, making the command decisions as opposed to the decadent romans who were carried for miles on a bed of wobbling cushions.
On that front the XF doesn’t disappoint, it makes you feel special, regardless of whether you’re fully aware of the turning heads as you gracefully pass the wash of inferior carts or you’re soaking up your blissful surroundings cruising at a steady 70mph as you watch the hustle of commuters desperately trying to cut through heavy traffic fighting their way home.
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This car should be perfect but it isn’t. I understand that I have probably lead you up a path and it is for a reason – because the XF really is a fine car. It’s fast and it’s even relatively economical, averaging 35mpg from a big 275hp V6. It radiates an aura of power and the handling is absolutely exquisite.
However, this car has a deep rooted problem or two.

Read moreI drove a Jaguar XF and……

Saturday morning snippets – Saab 9000 interior reborn

Many many MANY thanks to Tiago for the new banner at the top of the site.
Groovy, huh?
There’s more where that came from, too 🙂
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1,000 words from Dan P on the 2010 Saab 9-5 interior.
Click to enlarge.
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HD video of Marcus Gronholm conquering Pikes Peak in his 800hp, turbocharge 2 litre Ford.
Ford are really kicking some big goals during this automotive meltdown. They’ve recently announced some smaller four cylinder engines to be developed for family sedans, too. Another winning move, and in the Saab tradition I must say.
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Attention 2007 Saab owners:

The 2007 Saab 9-3 was being investigated after General Motors told the agency of “a certain number” of under-hood fires that apparently began near the ignition coil.

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This one’s of some concern.
It seems Saab’s advertising, in the UK at least, could still be done under the GM umbrella. Here’s hoping they have to go to Sweden for final approval.

General Motors UK has appointed McCann Erickson Birmingham to handle its retailer marketing account for Vauxhall, Saab and Chevrolet….
….The estimated value of the account is thought to be around £30m.
McCann’s Birmingham will be tasked to deliver all above and below the line national tactical and retailer communication activity for the three automobile brands, working alongside media agency Carat.
It will also be responsible for co-ordinating the marketing of 697 UK retailers and managing a team of regional marketing consultants.
It is understood that the advertising agencies for the specific carlines remain unchanged.

UK advertising has been a lot more palatable than some other regions, but still, retained associations with GM in almost any field seem to leave a bad taste in my mouth.
It also goes to show just how much money has to be poured into creating effective advertsing to sell cars. This is not a business for finger-snap solutions.

I drove a Maserati GT and here’s why I’d still buy a Saab….

The headline above might seem extraordinary to some. I used to run this as a regular series of comparos, with stories written by readers who had drive Brand X and given some thought as to how their Saab stacked up.
Aussie Saabnut, Brendan B, had some seat time in a Maserati Gran Tourismo over the weekend and he’s been kind enough to email some thoughts to our Australian email circle, as well as some photos.
I’ll tie things up with some thoughts at the end.
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I just spent the weekend testing out a Maserati Gran Turismo (sorry for camera phone pics, I forgot to charge my camera’s batteries). The interior quality and attention to detail was pretty bad for a $300,000 car. A few things that really stood out were the door air bag covers, the centre clock and the sun visors (which seemed to be made out of cardboard).
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When it came time to operate the Sat Nav it was impossible to use, unless you wanted to go to Palm Beach. I’m still yet to drive a Turbo-X, but from what I’ve seen the fit and finish and sat nav is miles better in the Turbo-X.
The seats were absolutely crap, very hard and too much lumbar, with no lumbar support device to dial it back. The weirdest thing about the car was that when the passenger adjusts their seat heater it shows up on the drivers instrument display. When I was riding in the back, behind my 6ft tall friend, I had plenty of leg room and my head wasn’t touching the roof, however the seat back was too low and made the seat uncomfortable.
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Good points were the exhaust note, which is simply amazing. Maybe I did a bit too much driving around in first gear. It sounds awesome from outside the car. Also the “look at me” factor was way better than we expected. We’ve found Darling St in Balmain to be the best street cred test. Driving up and down in a Black Porsche GT3 and people quickly whip out the wanker sign, or the little pinky gesture, and in a Grey Audi R8 you go past unnoticed. However in the Gran Turismo people were stopping to watch us drive past, and/or pointing us out to friends, even getting the thumbs up from a few people.
Overall I was disappointed with the car because when I was growing up I had a love of Maseratis. The Gran Turismo definatly has the looks to match the price. However if the front seats and sat nav was fixed I’d start reconsidering parting with $300k. Tidy up the fit and finish and you’ve got a winner, although maybe I shouldn’t have looked at German cars first.
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The next (fun) car in the lineup is looking like it’ll be a Lambo. I’m keen to have a drive of a XWD car, so I’ve found out there is a 2009 Saab 9-3 Aero XWD press car. However it’s an automatic 🙁
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My thoughts……
Brendan is doing these test drives as part of a new website he’s starting up with some friends. Many of you will know him as the guy behind the Australian Saab 99 register and he’s also recently bought a crashed Viggen convertible in order to straighten it out and get it back on the road.
I think I can speak for him and say that in no way was he looking to place the Turbo X in the same class of vehicle as the Maserati. The Maser is an exotic and has the price and powerplant to match.
The point here that I’d like to relate is the Swedish concept of Lagom that some have mentioned here in the last year or so. The concept of something being “just enough” or “just the right amount”.
A$300,000 will buy you a Maserati with killer looks, a fat engine and a heart-racing exhaust note, yet it won’t buy you perfection. When you consider that this car costs 10 times as much as many other forms of adequate transportation, it really should be close to perfection (as should any car in that price range).
A base Saab, here in Australia at least, costs around 20% more than your average piece of adequate transportation (think Toyota Camry) but it comes with Lagom – just the right amount of equipment, safety, utility and driver satisfaction: the things that make it an experience rather than just adequate transportation.
The excess is minimal and most will consider the quality in 2009 to be pretty darn good. Go higher in the range and it will cost you more, but you’ll get much better performance and still at a cheaper price than many of the more exotic competitors.
The rich can have their Maseratis. I’ll just enjoy looking at them and keep on enjoying my Saabs, which have just the right amount of performance, comfort, safety and utility for my needs.

Memo to a young, new Saab – please make the details a priority

I have the best photo that was ever taken of my Viggen as my desktop wallpaper on one of the computers I use and as I fired that computer up this morning, I thought to myself “Wow! What an awesome looking car.”
This is the photo, taken by my mate Stu the lens genius. Many of you will have seen it before:
9-3ViggenHobart.jpg
My mate Richo in Sydney had a Viggen until recently. His was actually much better than mine. He’d BSR’d it and it had a brand new engine installed last year with only around 4,000kms on it when he sold it. The young lady who bought it, Suzanne, got one heck of a good car for very good money.
I had the chance to drive Richo’s new car on the weekend, a BMW 3-series coupe. He bought it brand new. It’s got the detuned 6 cylinder so the performance isn’t hot, but it’s quite adequate. It’s very comfortable, looks pretty good (if you like that sort of styling) and definitely has quite a presence by the roadside.
Seeing my old Viggen photo again this morning made me compare notes in my head. Richo’s old car vs his new car. I can only do this from my perspective and I’ve only had a short drive in his new car but it was enough to form an impression.
The impression that I got was one of solidity. That’s probably the best word I can use.
The car looks solid. It looks like an evolution of its forebears and therefore has a solid history behind it.
The car feels solid. There are no moments as you open or shut things, as you operate any controls, as you drive, that suggest any sort of fragility. There are no “oh, I didn’t expect that” moments whatsoever. There are no moments where you wish they’d done something different.
The best example I can think of – and it’s a small one but demonstrates the comparison perfectly – can be found in the stalks that operate the indicators.

Read moreMemo to a young, new Saab – please make the details a priority

Is a Saab for you?

If you’re after the epitome of refined driving, whatever that is, then maybe a Saab isn’t for you. Maybe you should try a Lexus.
If you’re after supreme roadholding in high speed corners, then maybe a Saab isn’t for you. I hear BMW do that stuff quite well.
If you’re not sure whether you want a performance car or a luxury car, then every Audi ever made is just like you.
If you’re looking for an engine that screams at high revs, ‘cuase you like that sort of thing, a Saab probably isn’t for you. You should probably check out a performance Honda.
If you want gadgets that tell you what all your other gadgets are doing, Saab probably isn’t for you either.
If you want rock solid reliability and the soul of a car doesn’t matter to you, forget Saab. Maybe you should shop for a Toyota.
If you want butterflies to kiss you and fish to jump on your hook in thanks for you apparent environmental goodness, then maybe a Prius is what you’re after. Maybe.
If you want people to openly admire how well you’ve done for yourself then a Saab definitely isn’t for you. I can point you towards a couple of Mercedes dealers.
If you’re having a mid-life crisis then a red MX-5 is just around the corner.
If the only real engine in your mind is a V8, mate, then your local Ford or Holden dealership is the place to go.
But if you love driving and have a history of forming links and attachments with the cars you own and the people that make them, then maybe a Saab might suit you.
But if you’re after a car made by a company with a history of innovation, perhaps a Saab’s worth considering.
If you like the rush of a turbocharger and find torque steer to be somewhat interesting, then it’s quite likely that a Saab’s for you.
If you want the best seats in the business….
….and fantastic cabin ergonomics….
….if you love the idea of V6 performance from a four cylinder engine…
….and the possibility to uprate it even higher….
….then maybe you should be looking at a Saab.
If you want innovations that make sense, like headlamps wired into the ignition, a dash that can be de-luminated at night except for the information you need and heated seats, for example, then perhaps a Saab is what you’re looking for.
If you enjoy owning a brand of car that has a big and enthusiastic ownership base that you can connect with, then a Saab should definitely be on your list.
If you can look at this picture and know exactly what it means, then maybe a Saab is for you.
If you like the smell of two-stroke, perhaps a Saab might suit you.
If you want to be able to carry recliner chairs, washing machines, motorcycles, large amounts of musical equipment, or whatever else in your own car and not have them delivered, an older Saab hatch would be perfect for you.
If you like the idea of owning a sleeper, then a Saab could be what you’re looking for.
If you like the fact that you don’t see your own car on the road every 10 2 minutes, well….
And if you like the idea of driving what’s proven to be one of the safest cars in the world in both crash test and real world environments, maybe a Saab is what you’re after.
Most of all, if you want all these attributes – safety, comfort, performance, fun, responsibility, utility, innovation, history, anonymity and exclusivity – all in the one car…..
…..then maybe a Saab is for you.

Saab Vs Poster Advertising

I first posted these on the Trollhattan Saab site back in June 2005. I’ve always loved these posters and when I first loaded them on the site I included the text for around eight of them. Unfortunately I tired of writing them all out.

Thankfully, Jeff I offered to finish the job.

Enjoy these brilliant images, now complete with text thanks to Jeff’s magnificent efforts.

It’s not quite a complete set, but it’s close….

WYSIWY.jpg

Saab vs WYSIWYG
What you see is what you get. A rather unimaginative way of looking at the world. Take the Saab 9-5 wagon. On the surface, a cargo carrier. But look under the hood. A turbocharged engine that generates enourmous amounts of torque. The car’s versatility is evident: Cargotracks for securing loads, an optional sliding floor to make loading easier. But what about the torsionally rigid body construction that gives the car handling characteristics similar to a sports sedan? Can you see that?

Plenty more after the jump…..

Read moreSaab Vs Poster Advertising

Saab vs Audi vs Mercedes vs BMW vs Lexus

Regular TS visitor and commenter, David W, recently attended a promotional event for the new Audi A4. The event gave attendees the chance to drive not only the new A4 Quattro, but three comparative cars in the Mercedes Benz C300 4matic, the BMW 328 ix, and the Lexus IS250 AWD.
Naturally, David took the event as an opportunity to evaluate his own Saab 9-3 2.0T against the competition.
These are his thoughts but the images are just generic web images of the cars, except for the last image, which is David’s actual car.
My thanks go to David for taking the time to put these thoughts down on ‘paper’ and sending them in to share here at TS.
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I recently had the pleasure of attending the Audi A4 Experience. It was an event that showcased the new A4 against it’s “competition” consisting of the M-B C300 4matic, BMW 328 ix, and the Lexus IS250 AWD. They were all comparably equipped, none had a sport package, all had factory wheels and tires inflated to factory recommended pressure, all were fully loaded and ran side by side through an autocross track.
I will start this off with my frame of reference, my 2007 SAAB 60th Anniversary Convertible. While I could not take it on the track, after 24,000 miles in it and another 45,000 in my old 2003 9-3 SS, I have a pretty good idea of how they would have reacted.
First off, the Mercedes-Benz C300 4matic.
When they first came out, I was not a fan of the exterior. After some time and seeing many on the road, I have grown to respect it’s aggressive front and sweeping side lines. It looks better each time I see it. The interior however, was another matter.
The car was silver with a black interior. The seats were very hard and somewhat flat. The dashboard was atrocious. It looked like a big, black blob of rubber with very little style. It really made me appreciate the SAAB. While maybe not as sturdy as the Benz, it is far more aesthetically pleasing and easy to use.
On the track, the power was good, but the handling was not up to par. The steering was not communicative, and the car leaned a lot in the sharp corners. I have experienced quick lane changes and sharp corners in my SAAB, but never felt either of them lean that much. I came away less impressed with the C300 than when I started, as did another participant who referred to it as an expensive Buick.
Second came the BMW 328 ix.
I have not been a BMW fan since their disastrous ownership of MG-Rover, as my heart also belongs to my 1972 MGB. But this had nothing to do with how much fun it would be to test one on the track. After all, it is supposed to be the Ultimate Driving Machine, right?
The BMW’s were silver with black interior as well. The exteriors are very BMW, I think the 3 Series are their best designs. The interior was much better than the Benz, with more comfortable seats and a nicer looking dash. However, it still did not look as good as my SAAB’s. I am really spoiled with the 2 tone anniversary sport seats and door trims. The SAAB’s climate controls are far and away much easier to use. It took me way too long to turn off the BMW’s climate control as there was no off button to be found. I ended up turning the fan all the way down before it went off.
On the track, the BMW handled better than the Benz, but still was not as entertaining as I expected. The steering was my biggest disappointment. It felt thick and numb. There was no feel, no feedback, no anything that I was expecting. After this, I wondered what makes automotive journalist wet themselves every time they drive one? Must be the M’s???
Next came the Lexus IS250 AWD.
I really like the way this car looks inside and out. Ours were dark gray with light gray and black interior. The seats were very comfy (and air conditioned a-la the old Saab 9-5) and the dash looked great with a mix of black and gray plastics with silver and wood trim. Good so far.
On the track, it’s 204 hp 2.5 lt. 6 cylinder was no match for the AWD hardware. It felt hopelessly underpowered. The steering had more feel to me than the BMW’s, but was not quick enough. It took the most turns of the wheel to get around the track than the others, and when it did, it leaned the most and the seats had no grip. Again, I came away less impressed than when I started.
Last, was the Audi A4 Quattro.
Out of all the cars there, the Audi really shined (it should since this was an Audi event, right?) These were red with a tan interior. While the exterior is more evolution than revolution, it looked good (I love the LED light pipes on the headlights, like the 9-3… )
The interior would have benefited from a different color as the light tan mixed with the light wood on the dash was not to my liking. Darker wood or more brushed aluminum would have been better. They do have great fit and finish.
On the track, Audi’s new drive select system was pretty sweet. It gave the sharpest handling, the quickest, most precise steering and impressive power and acceleration. Of the 4 cars there, it would be the most able to tempt me out of a SAAB.
But there is a catch, a really BIG catch…the price.
$48,000 USD for this A4. Not an S4. Not an A4 S-line. Not an A4 Cabriolet. But a fully loaded A4 sedan. It did have the sweet 3.2 lt. 6 cylinder with 268 hp (the most there.) But I could not get past $48,000 for this A4.
Audi was very wise not to have a Turbo X or even the 2009 9-3 Aero there, as it would not have worked out in Audi’s favor. They made a point about how the others there did not utilize AWD for their more powerful models. They neglected to mention that SAAB (and Subaru) did. While 265 hp and 243 lbs. ft. of torque sound nice, 280 hp and 295 lbs. ft. of torque for the SAAB sound better while costing less!
Getting back into my SAAB, I realized again what a great car these are.
It never feels underpowered, even after this experience. It handled and steered just as sweetly as before and has the BEST SEATS IN THE BUSINESS! Bottom line, I was never happier to be back in my 2.0T with the top down and a smile on my face! Thank you Audi for a great experience, but I will be sticking with SAAB.
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