SU Hi-Po Challenge: Entry #5

Time for another Hi-Po Challenge entry, this time from Alan H.

This proposal uses a lot of things that are at Saab’s disposal right now, which makes it more affordable, however there is still no identification as to what element of the current program gets the chop.

Additionally, the engine choice just won’t cut it as far as the Hi-Po advocates that I’ve seen in comments are concerned. It’s highly unlikely that it would tune to the baseline power requirement and even if it could be tuned that high, there would likely be serious refinement issues when compared to the class of vehicle it would expect to go up against.

My thanks to Alan for the proposal.


To get a cost effective halo car to market quickly (i.e. before the new 9-3 arrives) I would:

  1. Use a 4 cylinder 9-5 (I would prefer the new BMW engine but the GM based engine is OK).
  2. E-85 capable if possible
  3. Tuned by Hirsch for more power and torque.( Maybe some other unique engine upgrades that may be filtering down to series production later)
  4. Interior upgraded, probably use Hirsch stuff, with maybe some unique touches for this model. This would include the seats also.
  5. Hi-per strut front suspension and upgraded rear suspension. Hirsch suspension tuning
  6. Upgraded brakes (current Saab accessory or Hirsch)
  7. Hirsch or upgraded wheels.
  8. Unique color choices. Not really expensive to do.
  9. Exterior gingerbread/upgrades. Spoilers, mirrors, fascia changes.
  10. AWD but with the new electric rear axle. First car to get it–showcases the technology.
  11. Need to upgrade the transmission. Might need to be an automatic due to item #10. Saab is already working on this I’m sure. This is the one area not much info is known about yet.

So what do we have? A cost-effective and unique SAAB with all the traditional Saab characteristics or safety, handling, performance and fuel economy. This model would showcase Saab’s new technology they have already invested capital into. The price would be acceptable. Fuel economy would be excellent. Performance would be excellent with the extra torque provided by the new electric rear axle. You have a unique SAAB much in the same tradition the Viggen was.

This car should be able to meet the upcoming emission and fuel economy requirements that are forthcoming worldwide for the next several years. The German’s are heading to responsible performance with smaller engines, turbos, etc—this is Saab’s answer!

Quick to market, cost effective, and so SAAB. Showcasing their technology and core competencies (couldn’t resist the MBA term).


P.S. If we want to wait a little bit longer, this would also work with the new 9-3.

SU Hi-Po Challenge #4

It’s time for the fourth entry in the SU Hi-Po challenge.

This is one that’s sure to get you thinking. It’s different. It’s a little controversial. It’s probably the most comprehensive and organised effort so far.

Whilst it’s all of that, and quite interesting to me on a personal level, it also misses out on a number of key criteria that would be needed for the hi-po model I proposed in the challenge (minimum output, saleability in key markets, requisite features for a halo model).

It comes from Aruk, out of England.


Saabs United (SU) High Power (Hi-Po) Challenge, Request for Proposal (RFP):

  1. The car must have 350hp minimum.
  2. How you’ll achieve that sort of power, where you’ll source the engine from.
  3. Modifications you’ll do to the interior, exterior, suspension, etc.
  4. Timeframe for testing this car.
  5. Warrant the vehicle in all markets with confidence.
  6. Expected sale price, based on current pricing in your market.
  7. How many of these vehicles you think Saab could realistically sell.
  8. How you’re going to fund the engineering, development and testing of this project.
  9. You have to fit it in to the current program by telling us which current priority is less important than a performance car.
  10. To make the Saab buildable and marketable.
  11. Given the European Investment Bank (EIB) funds are for efficiency projects only, EIB money is out of the question.

Whilst this may be ‘just-for-fun’ I still wanted to follow in the spirit of the challenge and to remain as close to the ‘RFP guidelines’ as possible!

To create a high performance, spiritual successor to the Saab 90.

To design, develop and test a “Hi-Performance” modern day Saab 90 based on the current 9-3 SS/SC in 90 days. This is to be achieved within the boundaries of existing European approvals and stipulations and with no compromise in safety. The business-model will be one of risk-reward, shared between various parties. It will be a fixed option model with a production run of 20,000 units at a retail price equivalent to 15,999 USD. It is to be sold in key European markets only.

Executive Response for Proposal (RFP) Summary:

1. The car must have 350hp minimum.

  • 180bhp, 400Nm TTiD. Aftermarket and approved tuning also available.

2. How you’ll achieve that sort of power, where you’ll source the engine from.

  • Use of an existing engine.

3. Modifications you’ll do to the interior, exterior, suspension, etc.


  • A thoroughly basic, current model Saab 9-3 SS/SC with interior design, development and manufacturing by BAIC China under the guidance of Saab.
  • No compromise on safety.
  • The exterior body, engine, safety systems and other critical (approval and legislation driven parts) and final assembly to be done by Saab, Sweden.
  • Fixed price and fixed equipment with no options.
  • No new tooling or movement of existing tooling.
  • Unless otherwise stated all parts and sub-assemblies to be made and where possible pre-assembled by BAIC China (who probably by now are producing an equivalent china-only model, the C60).
  • Single shipment (from China), low season, batch production.


  • Existing 180 TTiD including ancillaries and control; Sweden.


  • Very basic and only in accordance with fixed options i.e. minimal to no pre-wiring.
  • Front speakers only.
  • No Radio/ICE.
  • USB port for charging and basic connection of MP3/devices.
  • No electric windows/central locking/side mirrors/heated seats/sunroof.
  • Single interior light.
  • No cigarette lighter socket or ashtray.
  • Speedometer and fuel gauges only.
  • Minimal dashboard warning/information lights
  • Safety systems –Airbags, sensors, ABS, EBD, ESC, EBA, TCS, etc.. Sweden.


  • Existing 6 speed manual only. Sweden.


  • As per approval and legislation for sale in Europe for parts made in China
  • Brake pads. Sweden


  • Basic steering wheel with blanked-off switches.
  • Single stalk.
  • All other sub assemblies; China.

Suspension System

  • Simple, existing Saab-design 16 inch black steel wheels only. No plastic covers.
  • Tyres –all weather/season Nokians for utility and appeal. Finland.
  • All other sub assemblies and components; China.

Car Body External

  • Steel, pressing, construction, painting, assembly; Sweden
  • Fixtures and fittings. Simple bumper skin with no indents for fog lights.

Car Body Internal

  • Simple pressed plastic door cards with cloth pull handles.
  • No carpets, just appropriate rubber floor mats, otherwise bare metal.
  • Robust plastics to cover any exposed cavity areas.
  • Seats with minimal, dense, contour foam padding. Structural reductions (not SAHR/safety related) especially with rear bench.
  • No spare wheel/tyre.
  • Cloth only seat covers.
  • Seat belts, isofix and associated safety components; Sweden.

Heating & Ventilation

  • Basic heating/ventilation and associate controls.
  • No air-conditioning.


  • Use of existing catalogue where appropriate and necessary e.g. Tow bar.

Final Assembly

  • Sweden.

4. Timeframe for testing this car.

  • Design, Development and Testing -90 days; Sweden and China.

5. Warrant the vehicle in all markets with confidence.

  • Strictly European markets only.
  • As per existing product warranties.

6. Expected sale price, based on current pricing in your market.

  • Equivalent to 15,999 USD, 11,999 Euros or 9,999 GBP. Retail price with average 15-20% tax.

7. How many of these vehicles you think Saab could realistically sell.

  • 20,000 units.

8. How you’re going to fund the engineering, development and testing of this project.

  • Risk-reward model with BAIC China providing initial capital.

9. You have to fit it in to the current program by telling us which current priority is less important than a performance car.

  • Design, Development and initial testing by BAIC China with guidance from Saab.
  • Single shipment, low season, winter 2011, batch production.

10. To make the Saab buildable and marketable.

  • Existing tools and processes with a severe reduction in components and features.
  • Very basic ‘Assembled in Sweden’ Saab model with traditional Saab safety, utility and very high performance (and tuneable) 180bhp/ 400 Nm diesel engine offering exceptional, no-nonsense, recession-friendly value!
  • Transparency with regards to the component origins of this near end-of-model car with all key/safety aspects and assembly in Sweden.
  • Available spring 2012.

11. Given the European Investment Bank (EIB) funds are for efficiency projects only, EIB money is out of the question.

  • N/A, unless the resultant reduced emission and fuel consumption figures qualify for it.



The SU Hi-Po Challenge

More on Beijing Automotive’s Saab-based show cars

Su Hi-Po Challenge #3

Time for another entry in the SU Hi-Po Challenge.

This one’s from Thyl, out of Germany.

It includes a few additional thoughts at the end, which take in information he learned after sending in the first draft.


So, what I propose as a halo car is a dignified high speed travel limousine based on the 9-5 Aero6, with only minor upgrades:

1. Engine: The 2.8 T with two turbos and about 400 hp. I suggest to use the engine from the Aero-X; as I assume that this engine was developed to a degree allowing daily use. If not, maybe some minor tweaks need to be done to improve durability, depending on what is available with GM/Holden.

2. Aerodynamics: Bring down drag coeeficient to 0.24. This is the most important aspect, since it will have significant influence on maximum speed (+/- 10-15 km/h) and on acceleration on motorways above 120 km/h. It will also be the most expensive aspect to develop, and will require redesigning the bumper to allow better airflow, modifying the grille with automatic flaps and maybe with acrylic inlays (greenish iceblock design) to make it smoother; providing better under-car-airflow including cladding and diverters from the front wheels; if possible, coverings on the wheels, and maybe more complicated stuff like lowering the hood (pyrotechnical pedestrian protection lifts the hood in case of a collision), etc. I however believe that in the long run, this field requires improvements to the 9-5 line anyway, and the other models in the range would hence also benefit from such development. Could be offered as an aerodynamic kit, like the one for the previous 9-3 that originated with the Viggen. Since I am pretty sure that at least some of the above measures have already been developed at Saab, cost might still be kept under control. Further, for sceptics, the aerodynamic kit for the 9-3 Viggen had a similar improvement to the drag coeeficient, from 0.34 to 0.31, and when looking at the overall shape of the 9-5, I think it should be doable.

3. Transmission: If the automatic transmission cannot absorb the torque, offer just the manunal transmission.

4. Speed: no speed restriction at 250 km/h. This is more than it seems, because it is also a clear political statement. There are manufacturers that follow this unwritten agreement to restrict maximum speed (e.g. VW, Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Volvo, Jaguar) and others that don’t (e.g. Porsche, Maserati, Bentley, to name only those that offer salons), even though most of the cars can also be purchased inofficially without restriction. By not restricting the speed, Saab would set a clear signal that they intend to belong to that sporty group of high class players, not to the boring rational guys. Ie., they would change sides, at least for this one car.

5. Styling: call the car the “Draken” and develop badges for the hood and steering wheel where the griffen is replaced by a dragon in the same style.

6. Tyres: Speed index Y for restricted speed of 285 km/h, or ZR without speed restrictions (as an option)

7. Suspension: No changes. This is not a super sports car, but still a salon.

Price guestimates. From what I found concerning biturbo conversions in the tuning sector, I would guestimate that the engine conversion to a biturbo version as such could reasonably be offered at around 10000-15000 Euro, including “hardening” the engine. Aerodynamic stuff is more complicated than the Viggen kit, and I would guess 5000 Euro. Better brakes (standard components) and tyres (Y) might add another 5000 Euro. Don’t know about exhaust.

The overall concept of moderately powerful engine, excellent aerodynamics and high top speed would be unique. Most competitors have a worse aerodynamics (not Mercedes though) and use heavier and more complex V8 engine to achieve 400 hp. The concept would play nicely with Saab’s alleged strong traditions of turbocharged, light engines and good (aircraft like, if you will) aerodynamics at a reasonable price. Funny, now that I have written this, I ended up rather close to the Viggen ;-), but less sporty. And XWD/HiPerStrut will help stabilize this stuff without requiring as many modifications.

Risks: Aerodynamic instability might ruin the whole idea. See Citroen C6.


Thylmuc again with some additional remarks on my concept…..

Sadly, I was informed that there is no real 400 hp engine in the Aero-X, so I cannot say how much it would cost to develop it, nor whether it will be possible at all:-(( I was unable to find any tuner that offered a biturbo conversion for the Insignia OPC. Maybe the engine really explodes at 400 hp.

Nevertheless, applying that old physics stuff, “required power=0.5*air density*speed E 3*frontal area*drag coefficient”, and doing some to-and-fro and a lots of ratios, I calculated some maximum speeds (starting from the Turbo4 XWD at 161 kW and a cw of 0.28):

Top speed of Turbo6 XWD without restriction would be 256 km/h
Top speed of hirsched Turbo6: 264 km/h
Top speed of Turbo6 at a cw of 0.24, as suggested: 269 km/h
Top speed of hirsched Turbo 6 at cw of 0.24: 278 km/h

And the concept, 300 kW at 0.24: 298 km/h

Which is not too shaby, I would say. Hope my brain worked correct…

SU Hi-Po Challenge – entry #1

This is the first submission received in the SU Hi-Po Challenge.

It comes from Eric H, in California.

The first sentence sums up the dilemma nicely, but Eric does go on to elucidate how he’d think about doing a higher performance model.


I’d love to see a high performance option from Saab but they need to have a solid model lineup across the board first, so until the new (or at least extremely refreshed) 9-3 is introduced in a year or so I wouldn’t introduce a new performance trim level on the current car. Also given the time it takes for things like durability and emission testing we probably won’t see a high performance halo car before that time anyways unless it had already been in the works which doesn’t seem likely and I haven’t heard of anything planned in this regard for the new 9-5.

Looking at the model lineup within the next couple years we’ll have a heavily refreshed/new 9-3, the 9-4x and the recently introduced 9-5. For a performance “halo” type car we can probably rule out the 9-4x. While the 9-5 is a great car it’s also pretty big and on the heavy side. To significantly improve performance would require a dramatic increase in power which would come at the expense of fuel economy and increased emissions which goes against what Saab is moving towards in their goal of responsible performance. We can also speculate there’s a chance for a new 9-1 or 9-2, and while I’d love to see one sold that has a performance trim level such as an Aero model, it wouldn’t make sense to have your base, entry level model as the halo car.

That leaves us with the 9-3. This next car may be using what Saab calls their Phoenix platform but in reality it’s still just the original GM Epsilon architecture* which Saab had already tweaked enough to be somewhat different from other GM models (for example the internal controversy of the 9-3 convertible not being able to share parts/platforms when Pontiac was developing their G6 convertible due to the changes Saab made). With GM still retaining a major stake in Saab and with part sharing and other agreements still in place that opens up a wide range of components that Saab could use to build a next generation Turbo X-like halo vehicle, but instead this time backing it up with a true performance increase.

* Phoenix is a fully Saabified platform using Epsilon as a starting point. It will be fully customised to Saabs needs, and be extremely flexible, underpinning future 9-3, 9-4x and 9-5 vehicles. I’m personally very wary of calling it “just the original GM Epsilon architecture” – SW

Assuming that at least for the next couple years Saab will continue to use some or all powertrains sourced from GM and the current 9-3 and 9-5 are already using the 2.0L Ecotec, if I were building a performance 9-3 I’d start with a high output version of the GM “LNF” 2.0L direct injection, turbocharged four*. The current LDK/LHU variant that powers GM cars as well as the 9-5 produces only 220hp and 258 ft-lbs of torque and is less than the older LNF’s 260/260 ratings when it was used in cars like the Cobalt SS Turbo, the HHR SS, and the GM roadsters. The reduction in power in for the LHU version used in the 9-5 and other cars was more than likely for emission and economy reasons although the Buick Regal GS is expected to get a version of the LHU making 255hp and 295 ft-lbs or torque.

*Note: According to RedJ, the LNF will not pass Euro5 emissions, making this engine a no-go for Europe. The car will need to be sold around the world. Not dead yet, though……- SW

As the turbocharger and Bosch direct injection system didn’t change on these new variants and GM could continue to use the LNF or have an updated version of the LHU supporting similar power (like the upcoming Regal GS), all that would be required for say 300 hp and 335 ft-lbs of torque would be a recalibration of the Bosch engine management system. GM already spent the development dollars testing and certifying this when they released a dealer installed sensor upgrade and computer reflash for the LNF engine via GM Performance Parts that brings it up to 290 hp and 340 ft-lbs of torque and aftermarket tuning has shown it can support power levels significantly higher than that.

Read moreSU Hi-Po Challenge – entry #1

The SU Hi-Po Challenge

I’m away for a couple of days, but this ought to give you something to chew on…..


Consider this the oiling of squeaky wheels as far as SU is concerned.

There are a number of people who frequent this site who think that Saab should definitely build a high-powered, performance-oriented halo version of one of its cars. Whilst I count myself as a frequenter of this site, I do not count myself as an extreme halo car advocate at this time.

From my perspective – and noting that I’d love to see a higher spec Saab if it were realistically possible – what Saab need to do at this point in their history is improve, refine and expand their existing product line. They nearly died just 12 months ago and have a lot of basics to cover in order to get to a position where they’re self-supporting, financially healthy and stable for the future. They need to walk before they try to run.

Whilst I personally consider this sort of model to be an extravagance that Saab can’t afford right now, I’m open to being proven wrong.

The SU Hi-Po Challenge.

If you are one of the Hi-Po advocates, then I offer you a front page opportunity to state your case.

We’ve frequently been told by Hi-Po advocates that such a car must have 350hp minimum, so that’s your baseline (but of course, you should always go 50hp more than the expected amount).

I want you to lay out how you’ll achieve that sort of power, where you’ll source the engine from, what other modifications you’ll do to the interior, exterior, suspension, etc, in order to make this car 1) buildable, and 2) marketable.

I want you to state your timeframe for testing this car, to make sure that the company can warrant the vehicle in all markets with confidence.

I want you to tell me the expected sale price, based on current pricing in your market. Along with that, state how many of these vehicles you think Saab could realistically sell, given current challenges and the reduced marketing budget they might have as a result of this project (your decision, see below).

Remember, they had trouble selling 2,000 Turbo X’s in 2008. I’m not sure if they sold many more Viggens than that back in the early parts of the decade, either. Your car is going to have to be more compelling than those (which means $$$$) but for not much, if any, more money.

And speaking of money…… of course, it’s absolutely essential for you to tell me how you’re going to fund the engineering, development and testing of this project. The Saab 9-3 Viggen was based on an existing model but still took several years to develop before coming to market. All that development work has to be paid for somehow.

Saab have a very limited pot of funds, so if we’re to add a Viggen-on-steroids-style performance version, with all of the work such a project entails, then something’s got to go from the current priority list. Given the EIB funds are for efficiency projects only, EIB money is out of the question.

And by the way – this is done as if under Saab’s current circumstances. There’s no “we’ll go and float on the Stockholm exchange” or “Antonov will give us the money” stuff. You have to fit it in to the current program by telling us which current priority is less important than a performance car.

There are no prizes for this challenge. All you get is the satisfaction of being keen enough to rise to the challenge.

Please be aware that your entry may be critiqued with similar vigor as if it were one of Saab’s own plans for a product offering (and if you hang around here frequently enough, you know that that’s pretty tough scrutiny). Please be prepared to accept that level of scrutiny, just as you expect Saab to live with the scrutiny you apply to them.

All entries should be sent to my email address ( and I’ll post them here on site, as is. If we get more than half a dozen then I’ll put up a poll and people can vote on them.

Saab is involved in a real business. If you can make a real business case then maybe they’ll see it and act accordingly.

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