Friday Snippets – Fire edition

I was quite distressed last night to hear about a fire being deliberately lit in my favourite hotel – the Scandic Swania in Trollhattan.

Most people who have visited Trollhattan would be familiar with the Swania and I know a bunch of SU readers have stayed there over the years during Saab Festival and other events. It’s great views, wonderful rooms, exceptional staff (and great breakfasts!) make it a wonderful place to stay when you’re visiting the land of Saab.

Thankfully, no-one was hurt in the fire. I hope they catch the bastard that lit it and that the Scandic group can rebuild the damaged sections of the hotel soon.

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Saab fans in south-east Pennsylvania should look in on the SE Penn Saab Club forum and check out the Independence Day drive they’re organising for February 20th.

The plan at the moment is for a light brunch around 10am and then a drive to the appropriately named Victory brewing company for a tour and a lunch.

They need to book the tour, so check in at the forum and show your interest.

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Speaking of Saab gatherings, the Saab Swiss Fondue meeting was held last weekend in Switzerland. Around 60+ people and 30 Saabs were there for the weekend and it looks like there was a good time, and plenty of cheese, had by all.

They got some good media coverage, too. This is just one of many…..

The event was organised by Dimini.ch, who sell wonderful scale model Saabs (and a few others).

There are plenty of photos here and even some good video over at Saab Actu.

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Hilton Holloway from Autocar has published a review of the baby of the Saab 9-5 range – the 1.6T petrol version.

It’s actually quite a positive read but the same problems with UK tests persist – a ride experience that’s less comfy than it should be. It seems 18 wheels with 45 profile tyres aren’t doing the trick and if some other setup is available, then UK journos should be getting that alternative.

HH quite likes the 1.6T engine in most instances and the overall finish of the car seems to have improved in his estimation.

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All you advocates of a high powered Saab ought to get your thinking caps on in preparation for the weekend – the SU Hi-Po Challenge will be on.

Mysterious Saab 9-5 test vehicle spotted in Trollhattan

I’ll keep the spotter’s name out of this post as he’s a local there in Trollhattan, but this makes for a very interesting photo.

Saab 9-5 tester

It’s badged as a V6 Aero, but that’s obviously not an Aero bumper or exhaust setup on the back there. And then there’s those blue plug-like things.

Saab 9-5 tester detail

Our spotter says that the car also had similar plugs around the glovebox area.

Hybrid-electric tester? Something else? Let the speculations begin!

And if anyone knows the truth about this vehicle, that’d be welcome too.

9 things to do in Trollhattan

The Saab Festival is coming up and hopefully quite a few of you will be travelling to Trollhattan for the festivities.

I got in touch with the tourism people in THN and asked them what they thought the 9 best things to do in Trollhattan are for the next week or so. Here’s the list they sent me.

  • The Waterfall Days (Fallens Dagar) – 16-18 July
  • The Waterfalls every day in July at 3 pm.
  • The Locks area is fantastic. Guided tours daily
  • The Powerstation Olidan – guided tours daily
  • The Cableway with transport over Trollhätte canal
  • The Plateau mountains Halle- and Hunneberg (must be small as I can’t find a link 🙂 )
  • Outdoor exhibition with stone sculptures in the falls area
  • The Canal Museum
  • The Summercard with entrances to many sights www.sommarkortet.eu

AFP: Saab ready for ‘revenge’

I wrote over the weekend of my feelings towards not only Saab, but the people there and the city of Trollhattan, which is a place I love to visit.

AFP have a nice background piece today, talking about not only the relief people feel at Saab’s renewed operations there, but also of their motivation to get cracking and show what they can do.

“There is really a feeling of revenge, we want to show what we can do,” she told AFP. “It’s pretty unique for a company to survive a year of restructuring and a wind-down.”

To be honest, I think there’s more relief there than a need for revenge, but I do think there’ll be a lot of satisfaction around Trollhattan when newspapers like Dagens Industri and others are forced to write about increased Saab sales and growing Saab markets instead of the drivel that some of them have been coming out with for the last few months.

This one’s definitely recommended reading for those who are interested in the region.

Video: Saab 9-5 Infotainment System

I got one of the product specialists, Mikael Jakobsson, to walk me through all the electronic goodies available on the new Saab 9-5.

I drove a fully equipped V6 car on Tuesday and the integration of the electronics was a real feature, especially as I was driving by myself in a foreign country and was quite reliant on the information provided to me via the car. It all worked seamlessly, as advertised, and became one of the real unexpected highlights of the car for me.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HF0UGsLcB_0

The menu systems are grouped in a smart way – can you call it ergonomics when it involves menu systems? I learned to use most of this stuff whilst driving, such is the intuitive nature of the systems.

Other items that we didn’t cover in the video are the Head-Up Display and some of the systems that run through the dashboard’s display.

For example, the speed sign recognition system, which reads speed-zone signs as you drive along and then displays the appropriate speed limit on the central dashboard display (it works brilliantly and is a bigger than expected help).

Then there’s the Head-Up Display, which shows important information projected on to the windscreen. It’s a great way to monitor your speed, but the biggest benefit I received from the HUD was the ability to see SatNav instructions right there in front of me whilst I was driving. Outstanding!

Autoblog were a little critical of the HUD because you can see subtle reflections of the actual HUD projector around the HUD information you see on the windscreen. I can see where they’re coming from, but it wasn’t prominent and the benefits provided by the HUD system far outweigh the fact that you notice something on the periphery of your view. To their credit, Saab have said they’re taking notice and will work to refine the system as time progresses.

My thanks to Mikael, who I’ll hopefully meet again when it comes time to review the Saab 9-4x as he’s the product manager for that vehicle 🙂

Video: Saab 9-5 XWD and DriveSense (test track mayhem!)

Last time I attended an event like this, I did a video in the first Saab 9-3 with XWD, with Kenneth Backlund from the Saab Performance Team. Kenneth was there again today, but frankly, after this drive with Stefan Rundquist from Saab, I was too queasy/shaky/stunned to even think about a lap with Kenneth.

Don’t take that in a bad way. What Stefan did in this car was demonstrate something approaching the extraordinary capabilities of the Saab XWD system.

You’ll hear the rain and see the wipers. This track was incredibly wet today. We were in a 2.8T V6 Saab 9-5 and on some of these long sweeping corners were doing up to 150km/h and the car was totally rock solid – totally.

You’ll see in some sections that Stefan is actually steering quite sharply and trying to induce some forced oversteer (at over 100 km/h on a bend) and the tyres just dig in, shift the power around and keep the car stable.

It really was an incredible eye-opener as to what this car can do. I’ve mentioned already that to me, the V6 version of the 9-5 seems more like a smooth cruiser, that it doesn’t invite you to really test its limits. I think this video shows that despite its long touring credentials, this car is capable of handling whatever tests you might throw its way.

The video is from a handheld camera so it does move around a little with the frequent changes in momentum and motion, but hopefully you’ll still get a good sense of what’s going on.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiBb4DFmvWQ

My sincere thanks to Stefan for the ride – now I know how Saab felt back in 2009!

Video: Saab Factory Tour

To kick off day 2 of the Saab 9-5 launch program, they took us around for a quick tour of the factory. I had my still camera out for the first few minutes and then figured that was quite useless – and if we were allowed to bring in still cameras, then we could probably take video as well.

So I did.

We were driven around in a little cart with a bunch of seating buggies pulled behind, reasonably low to the ground, which is why things get blocked occasionally. The cart rarely (if ever) stopped, too, so it’s not the greatest video in the world, but hopefully it should give you some idea of what goes on there.

I believe the girl providing the commentary is the daughter of Saab’s marketing director, Knut Simonsson. That’s keeping it in the family for you!

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSsXftrMUy8

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYRfx5_dUos

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