Top Gear and the Saab 9-5

Many of you have been waiting for Top Gear to get their hands on a new Saab 9-5 and the magazine spawned from the show has done so.

Their verdict? Read the full report for yourself here.

Overall, I think it’s reasonably positive. They don’t like the base model diesel (and they’re not the first to say this) but they do report positively on the V6 Aero.

It’s a good car, but in some versions the Saab-ness is woefully absent. The base-spec diesel is a big, solid, stylish cruiser. But it was developed under a huge GM global programme, and feels like it would make a perfectly satisfactory Vauxhall Omega…..

….. (The V6 is) a heavy car, but we never got it to wobble about. The steering is calm and precise, the stability good, the grip unfailing. It’s a solid and reassuring car. Doubtless exactly what you’d want if you’d ploughed £38k into a big Swedish saloon.

Unfortunately, it seems they didn’t get to drive a 2.0T gasoline version. It has some great dynamics on the road because whilst it has some pep, it doesn’t have the weight of the V6 model. I think they would have really liked one of those. It was my favourite version of the car, without doubt, and I can’t wait to see what Hirsch do in terms of tuning that engine.

Top Gear really – and I mean really – made some sense when they said this:

But now it’s independent, Saab ought to simplify its purchasing and put the best suspension design on all versions. That would sharpen up the steering, improve the ride, and mean that the dull chassis on the base versions won’t kill the reputation of the posher ones. And stop the taunts of ‘Underneath it’s just an Insignia’.

Rarely has a truer word been spoken.

I know car companies love to have steps up a model line’s ladder, but why can’t those steps be limited to engine and trim options?

Why not make the dynamics of driving a 9-5 excellent, no matter which model people choose?

HiPerStrut should be standard across the line. It makes a LOT of sense.

Thursday Snippets

Saab Netherlands are being a little cheeky…..

That’s a new website they’ve set up, called Saab challenges everyone. Those little squares you can see each have a different scenario in them. You click the scenario that you’d like to read and they offer a solution that most commonly involves either driving a Saab or visiting a Saab dealer.

Some examples:

Q: I am an Audi dealer
A: There’s a fair chance that your buiness will be slow the coming months. To find out why visit your SAAB dealer

Q: I drive a Volkwagen
A: That happens in the best of families. Speaking of Families, the 9-5 is the latest addition to the SAAB family

It’s all in Dutch, except for “I am the Stig”. It’s a must read for all who can. The rest of us will have to hope they do a version in English (or insert your appropriate language) soon.

UPDATE: Saab Belgium have similar concepts in both Dutch and French (and I apologise in advance if the one I’ve called Dutch is actually Flemish or something else specific to the region, but it has an “nl” callout in the URL).

Thanks to Jos for the tip.

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Jeremy Clarkson makes a great point in a recent Top Gear column.

Simple. I wish car companies would behave a bit more like Quentin Tarantino and a bit less like Michael Bay, the slap-happy madman who foisted Armageddon on the cinema-going public.

The trouble is that, like Bay, car companies are obsessed with the big-money special effects. They think that what we want are automatic windscreen wipers and what Michael McIntyre called the “little people” in the bumpers who shriek and wail when we reverse too close to a wall…..

……I think this is an approach that should be favoured by the people behind Spyker as they wrestle with the next Saab. Since it will be bought, mainly, by architects and since architects favour a minimalist, crisp, no-nonsense approach, why not give them a modern-day incarnation of that old W123. No bells. No whistles. And please, no idiotic claims that it’s a jet fighter with an ashtray.

I don’t mean to brag, but it’s a point that I’ve made myself on the odd occasion, too.

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Saab spent $25 million on advertising in 2008 and $8 million in 2009.

Hang on. They spent $8mil in 2009???? On what?

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One of my favourite pieces of writing in 2010. Completely non-Saab related. I’ve never made claims at being a good writer, but I like to make sure it’s not difficult for people to come here and read what I’ve got to say.

Some of you have listened to me complain about bad writing every now and then. This piece attacks bad writing with a fine-tooth comb 🙂

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I don’t think I’ve ever moralised on this site about the various ways people might choose to spend their money.

But this? Commissioned by a client? Someone, please think of the starving children!!

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I’d like to extend my apologies for the disruption caused by the new comments system yesterday. I mentioned in the post that it would be a trial system and that the trial would run for a month. I think we’ll get a fair idea of how well it works within a week, however.

It does offer some features that I really like. Comment voting, for example, whereby you can self-moderate a little. Spellchecking and smilies are good, too.

What I don’t like, however, is the admin interface I have to deal with (funny how they don’t tell you about that beforehand) and it there’s no doubt that the comments section looks a lot more cluttered than it used to. In some respects, that’s inevitable when you add more functions, but still……

Thanks again for your patience. I’ll be monitoring how well this works and will look for alternative solutions in the meantime.

Tuesday Snippets – Captain Slow, Let them eat Cake edition

Security staff at Arlanda Airport, the main airport in Stockholm, will be having a little Saab Support Convoy of their own today.

Two of the staff there are massive Saab nuts, so they’re bringing in some cakes to celebrate Saab’s recent good news:

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What an absolutely brilliant happening!

And speaking of backed goods…….

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Here’s a little story from Saab’s internal newsletter:

“Baked muffins for everyone in the factory.

One day last week, just before the deal with Saab/Spyker was a fact, we got a phone call to the information department from a private individual who wanted to bake muffins for those who work in production.

– How many employees do you have in the factory, he asked.

– We are about 1,300 people, we replied. We hung up the phone and asked ourselves if we understood it all right.

Today Linda and Jan W, who recently moved to Vargön, arrived at Saab with 1,311 muffins for the production staff.

– We wanted to show that we care,” says Linda and Jan, who followed the battle for Saab. “We knew there were many who risked to lose their jobs.”

Anna-Lena Nystrom, Dagfrid Snäll, Ann-Christin Andersson and Anita Käll from the production area received the muffins to distribute them in the factories. We all asked the same question? Have you baked all this stuff at home in the kitchen?

-Yes, we have. We started on Tuesday and finished this weekend. We are delighted that people in our surroundings has been committed to us and would like to do something for others.

It is not the first time Jan and Linda show his humanity. This Christmas they invited lonely people without family or friends, into their own home to celebrate Christmas.

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James May – aka Captain Slow from Top Gear – has written a wonderful perspective piece concerning an ex-girlfriend, another ex-girlfried, their repective fathers, a Volvo….. and Saab!

I think this might be interesting. Other, massive car makers would consider Saab as a slightly left-field curiosity; something of an indulgence and a way of making themselves appear more interesting. GM owning Saab is really no different from my old girlfriend’s father owning a Saab back in 1978. But to Spyker, Saab is a towering mainstream colossus. Spyker buying Saab is like the treasurer of a residents’ association buying Barclays Bank.

But now fire up your internet and take a look at the Spyker C8. Do we really want the people who came up with that to be building a regular four-door saloon?

Yes please.

I got a scanned copy of this on the weekend and I’m so pleased it’s come out online now as it really is recommended reading.

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Throughout the Saab sale process, we all got to recognise which news services did a good job of reporting accuately and up to date, and which one weren’t so crash hot.

Let’s just say that Reuters didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory and today, they’ve managed to do something that seems almost impossible.

In an entry dated February 1st, they’ve written the following:

Sweden’s other major car brand, Saab, is unlikely to make it through the crisis, and is probably will be shut down by GM, despite a handful of late rescue offers.

Now, it is from a section called ‘Acquisitions Monthly’, so there’s a chance this was written earlier in the month and filed away for scheduled future publication, but still……

A terrible job.

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The Toyota saga continues, with the Head Honcho for Toyota in the US going on national television to try and convonce people that they’re on top of things.

Problem: Jalopnik were watching and are claiming a reasonable ‘gotcha’.

It’s a question of whether or not he intenionally lied, or if this is just too big, with too many reports and dates for him to get his head around.

He’s certainly earling his fat salary this week…..

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And finally, David Finlay from CarKeys is disappointed to find that the Saab 9-3x isn’t a sports car.

It’s not. But it’s bloody good.

David also complains about a lack of rear visibility and the fact that Euro NCAP haven’t tested a solid-roof Saab 9-3 since late 2002 (i.e the intro of the Sport Sedan model).

My advice to David: drive forwards, not backwards, try not to roll the car and don’t worry, the car is as safe now as it was in late 2002 because structurally, it hasn’t changed.

He seems to like it over all, but there’s not much to read beyond some facts and figures.

Some more Koenigsegg love – on video

My thanks have to go to WooDz for sending these links through.
It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but this is going to be your average Saab 9-5 or 9-3s big brother 🙂
OK, it’s not really, but kinda. I’ll take it. Maybe some “my other Saab is a Koenigsegg” stickers are in order?
What we’ve got here are a few demonstrations of just how blisteringly quick the Koenigsegg CCX actually is.
The first video is a series of drag races between a Koenigsegg CCX and a Ferrari F430 Scuderia. The acceleration is astounding and the view from the Ferrari (or from the porthole in the K-Segg) is just as thrilling.
The vids are after the jump but here’s a screenshot
CCX-Ferrari.jpg
Yes, those little white/yellow dots in the mirror are the Ferrari.
Of course, that’s straight line power, which isn’t what real world driving is about (not that these are real world cars, but you know what I mean). What if you introduce the CCX to some corners?
The first CCX attempt on Top Gear wasn’t a smashing success. Well, it was smashing, in that the car was too quick and unstable and wandered off the track and ate some tyres.
When Koenigsegg brought the car back to England with a rear spoiler fitted, the Stig flew it around the track in record-smashing time.
CCXstig.jpg
Both videos await you after the jump…..
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NOTE: if are using Internet Explorer, watching the videos here may cause your browser to crash. It’s a glitch and no-one seems to know how to fix it (other than recommending you use Firefox or get a Mac).
You should click here to watch the drag races and click here for the Top Gear video.
Others, go end enjoy.

Read moreSome more Koenigsegg love – on video

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