Owner review – Saab 9-5 TTiD XWD

UPDATE – Pictures added

When XWD was first released, one of the most desired vehicle combinations was TTiD with XWD. The drive system gives you the traction and the diesel gives you the low-end grunt.

That combination is now available in the new Saab 9-5, and a guy who signs in here with the name TTAero recently picked one up. He’s sent in the following for your consideration.

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Today, this afternoon, we have had our TTiD XWD for 8 days. And this is my third new SAAB.

The dealer gave us an hour to walk us through the most important features in the car and check all the chosen options.

This happened just before closing time so we took the first trip in on cold, dark and icy roads. We took her for 190 km straight away. The car felt comfortably and stable. This night wasn’t the real testing night, but the impression was very good.

The lighting is phenomenal, and it’s a feature I need where I live because moose, reindeers and deers comes running up the roads. Probably the best safety feature there is and a feature many car makers just don’t care about. All the electronic assistants in the world can’t help you if you don’t see the road or the surrounding areas.

We now have 1100 km on the meter and have done some more testing. The car feels even better now than the first 600-700 km. The fuel consumptions is down and the car makes “less resistance” when changing gears and accelerations. It’s getting smoother. I knew this was going to happen because the same thing happened in my former 9-3 TTiD SC. I guess the car will be broken in after 6-7000 km.

Some thing I did notice and frankly got a bit worried about was the engine sound. At first, it sounded like a pimped bimmer M3 with an exhaust pipe the size of a waste bin when doing 80-110 km/h uphill or accelerating. But after some driving during cold climate I realized that the sound was only apparent until the engine got up to working temperature. And if the outside temp is under 30 degrees C then it takes a bit longer. The temperature inside the car is not a problem since it is equipped with an electric extra heater. I didn’t realize at first that my car was “actually freezing” one bit when I had a warm and comfortably ride. The first 7 days we had no higher temperatures than -20 C. And the record was 32 degrees below zero.

This morning, when driving to work I tried hard to hear that sound. It’s gone! No matter how hard I accelerated, the smoothness, comfort and stability was great.

Now, lets go to the road handling… it is so good. It’s feels surreal and it’s difficult to find the words. I have stopped a couple of times just to “manually” check if the road is slippery. The grip just don’t let go if I’m not provoking it. And if you put your foot down in corners, there is nothing dramatic about it, just a nice flow thru and a constant acceleration.

WARNING: This is addictive.

We have now tried the entire configuration range (Drivesense) and my choice of chassis settings during the cold, dark and icy part of the year is “comfort”. It smoothens out the small but hard ice vibration we have gotten used to and the direct contact with the roads are seldom possible since there is a layer of packed snow or ice in the roads.

This is by far the best winter vehicle I’ve ever driven. Overtaking with 15 cm of snow between the lanes is not a problem. Just turn, accelerate, turn back and you are done!
I do many rentals in my work and compared to those the XWD 9-5 is nothing but wonderful. The A6 (the old), VW Passat, Volvo V70, Skoda Octavia, Toyotas, Ford Mondeos and so on just don’t measure up to this. I’ve tried the Volvo, Audi and Passat as a 4×4, but still there isn’t the same stability, grip and comfort as in my new 9-5. Astonishing is the only word that I can find to describe what I feel.

Saab 9-3 TTiD – Why 119g/km of CO2 matters

If you’re living outside of Europe, then you might be wondering exactly what all the fuss is about when it comes to Saab’s new low-emissions TTiD engine range.

Comparing the Saab TTiD with its low-emissions competition shows that this new engine range has lefted Saab into a super-competitive position in the European market. There are few, if any vehicles that offer the similar amounts of space, power and low CO2 emissions as the 9-3 Sport Sedan fitted with one of these updated TTiD engines. And they’re close to getting the SportCombi under the 120g/km threshold, too.

So why does all this matter?

Fleet News have done a review of the Saab 9-3 TTiD Sport Sedan and their writeup spells it out nicely:

In addition to the twin turbos, Saab has reduced friction in the engine, added low rolling resistance tyres, lightened the car by replacing the sound deadening material, improved the aerodynamics and altered the gear ratios.

It means the Saab now circumvents first year VED and costs just £30 per year thereafter.

It also means 62.8mpg.

And it will be music to fleet users’ ears that the 9-3 has dropped below the all-important 120g/km threshold for the first time (except Aero models). With that comes BIK tax at 13%…..

….The 180bhp diesel engine is a real cracker and the 9-3 balances responsive handling with pothole-smothering comfort. Tall gearing means it settles at low engine speed on the motorway, nice and quiet….

[The gearchange] and a cabin that’s starting to look its age now are the only real gripes; the 9-3 isn’t a benchmark car in any area, but nor does it feel a generation behind any more.

Verdict

In a nutshell, the 9-3 diesel is better and cheaper than it was before – and you can’t really ask much more than that.

Recommended reading.

Robert Collin praises low-emissions TTiD Saab 9-3

It’s great to see Saab (finally) getting some love in a Swedish newspaper.

The writer is Aftonbladet’s Robert Collin and the subject of his affection is the new range of low-emissions TTiD cars in the Saab 9-3 range.

Unfortunately, the full article is subscriber only, but the start goes something like this:

In the true Saab spirit

Both eco-rated and super strong – the new 9-3 knocks out all competitors

180 horsepower. On diesel.

Saab has succeeded in building an unbelievably fast green car that goes one better on both Volvo, BMW and Passat.

The new Saab 9-3 is a true Saab fairytale.

Thanks to Börjesson for the better-than-Googletrans translation

The ‘true Saab story’ part would likely refer to Saab engineers being able to pull something miraculous out of their hats whilst the company’s back is against the wall.

In the 1970’s, when Saab could have been seen by some to be stagnating to some degree, they pulled a turbocharger out of their hat and changed the company’s raison d’être completely.

Today, in the aftermath of a sale, limited brand awareness and consistent criticism from various quarters, the company’s engineers have pulled out what is the highest output, lowest emissions engine setup in Europe: 180hp with less that 120g/km of CO2.

Saab are innovating for their lives at the moment. It’s nice to see their work recognised, especially when its recognised in this sort of historical context.

Thanks to Joe, in comments.

Saab 9-3 TTiD – A Star is born

Last time Auto Express tested the Saab 9-3 TTiD was when the new engine made its debut in the latter part of 2007.

Back then, AE gave the car with a new power plant 3 stars out of 5.

Their new review, published this week, covers the 2011 iteration of the Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan. This new model comes with a choice of three new TTiD engines that emit less than 120g of CO2 per kilometer, making the car a very attractive option for those who are more conscious of their road tax costs.

How big an impression has the new engine lineup made?

You might have expected the Saab 9-3 to lose half a star given its advancing age relative to the competition. But the opposite has happened.

The Saab 9-3 is awarded 4 out of 5 stars in this new review and the praise for the new TTiD engine lineup is significant.

It has a mighty 400Nm of torque available from only 1,850rpm, so it’s powerful and flexible in any of its six gears. In addition, it’s superbly quiet and smooth on the go, feeling every bit as refined as the benchmark 2.0-litre TDI units from Volkswagen.

Saab has achieved the hikes in performance and economy by reducing friction in the engine, adding low-rolling resistance tyres, thinning some of the metal bodywork to reduce weight, and using lighter materials with the same soundproofing qualities…..

…..It all adds up to a car that hasn’t the slightest whiff of being an ‘eco’ model, yet delivers fuel economy that keeps up with the best the BMW 3-Series can offer. The front-wheel-drive Saab will never quite match the dynamic prowess of the 3-Series, but it still grips well, turns in sharply and is refined on the motorway. The only gripe is the lumpy gearchange.

You can click here to read the full review.

Report – Saab working on diesel hybrid

A reporter from Automobil magazine in Sweden has apparently sighted a hybrid in testing while he was in Trollhattan testing the new Saab 9-5.

The vehicle he saw was a very looking Saab 9-3 sedan and the reporter claims he saw a lot of battery packs in the back when the trunk was opened.

Automobile has just visited Trollhättan. The mission was to return the 9-5 Aero we had on test. As a bonus, we saw a diesel hybrid.

After a pleasant drive from Stockholm the writer and Oscar Carlquist arrived in Trollhättan. We will return the test car and go back to Stockholm in our own car. It is good manners to return a test car with a full tank, so we drive to a roadside petrol station affiliated to the factory. We are not alone, there are 9-5s and is 9-3s everywhere.

A 9-3 catches my attention because it is towed to the pump by a 9-5. When the car is to be refueled the co-driver goes out and open the luggage compartment. I notice a hefty collection of batteries and units, but my camera phone is not fast enough so I can take a picture.

I walk closer and see the sign in the rear side window. “Hybrid” it says, and now things get really interesting. When fueling is completed, the car is started and it becomes clear that there is a diesel engine that is being adapted for hybrid technology. I look up the car in the car register and indeed it is a diesel. It has automatic transmission and came into service in April 2007.

The development is a longstanding one. Already in November 2007 a Senska Dagbladet’s reporter spotted a white 9-3 with the combination of diesel and hybrid.

“We are developing hybrid technology for different types of engines,” said Magnus Wall, Director of the Development Laboratory at that time to SvD.

Since then much has happened with Saab. But it is gratifying to note that Saab proceeds with this project. Given how long the work has been ongoing they should soon be ready. It would be exciting if Saab could be at the forefront now. The world’s first diesel hybrid will be the Peugeot 3008 HYbird4 which goes on sale in 2011. Join now, Saab!

OK, so it’s only a sticker, but still…..

What was most interesting is that when the driver started the car, it was quite apparent that it was a diesel engine under the hood, meaning Saab could well be testing out hybrid technology in combination with their own frugal, low-emissions diesel powerplants.

Whilst petrol hybrids have been reasonably well received and appreicated for their mileage improvement, diesel hyrbids offer an even greater frugality promise and would surely be a great seller in European markets.

Thanks to Dippen and Arild for the tip!

Saab 9-3 TTiD comparison table

The following table was compiled by “Me” (a regular commenter here at SU) in response to the following questions by Jeff, in comments:

So what cars is this 9-3 TTiD competing against? Or rather, who else has something with less than 120g/km?

Here’s the table, which shows figures obtained from German data about the respective models listed. As you can see, the new low-emissions Saab 9-3 TTiD emitting just 119g of CO2 per kilometer is pretty much in a class of its own when it comes to delivering proper power with sub-120g emissions.

[table id=3 /]

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Thanks “Me” for the hard work in compiling all this data.

New Saab 9-3 diesel road testing underway

The following photograph was taken by one of SU’s Swedish mates, Tim R, just outside the Airport Hotel at Landvetter Airport, Gothenburg.

As you can see, there’s a fleet of Saab 9-3’s in place there. These are cars featuring the new, low-emissions diesels that Saab announced at the Paris Auto Show last month.

Journos Testing 9-3 diesel

My guess is that we can expect to start seeing reviews in automotive magazines fairly soon. That 180hp TTiD engine is a cracker and with the new, lower CO2 figures, is now a more attractive cracker than ever. The’re going to sell a few of those, I can tell you.

And if the press guys look a little chilly…… a friend in Trollhattan reported it was -4C there yesterday! Can’t have been much warmer at Landvetter.

Monday Night Snippets

Tonsilitis sucks.

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It’s not Saab related, but this is the coolest father/son project I’ve seen in a long time (maybe ever): Flying an iPhone to 100,000 feet with the camera running – and then getting it back again!

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There have been a few Saab road tests popping up online in the last few days, several which have been mentioned in comments but I’ll bring them here to the front page anyway.

The Daily Mail in Britain had a Saab 9-5 review that read quite well, albeit coming from a celebrity chef. The guy’s name is James Martin and he thinks Saab from the 1970’s on were ugly (the 900 is ugly?) but all’s not lost:

If you’re in the market for a new saloon this is a great option. It’s cheaper than comparable German motors and just as good, in my mind. The Swedes have had their problems, but this should put them back on the map.

Maybe there should be more chefs rating cars in the UK. Saab haven’t had too many favours from the regular motoring press 🙂

Swedish paper, Svenska Dagbladet, has published a test of the new low-emissions Saab 9-3 TTiD. This engine’s going to mean a lot of sales in Sweden, I think.

Diesel 180 horses and 400 Nm makes the 9-3 good. Even before the car was a scale movable class but in the previous version was diesel motorn not exactly fun. With the new engine, which is fully in class with, for example, Volvo or BMW’s two-liter diesel engines, is 9-3 remains competitive.

They give the car four stars (and it might be out of six, I’m unsure).

Here’s an interesting one that a couple of people have emailed me about in the last few days (thanks Daniel and Kai).

What’s the one engine that Saab could really benefit from in Europe? If you answered a V6 diesel, you’d be correct.

A company in Sweden called Sintercast has just started casting blocks for a new VM Motori V6 diesel. It’ll be available for use from MY2011, though there’s no mention of who’ll be using it. The engine makes 240hp and 550 torques, so it would be an ideal offering for a 9-5 or 9-4x in Europe.

Fingers crossed.

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A great photo, from Robin M on Flickr.

Saab 95 closeup

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If you like the image below, there’s plenty more of it at SaabActu

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Stay tuned……

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