I think I might have actually shed a tear when I drove up to the TrollhÃƒÂ¤ttan offices of Saab. I am not some Saab groupie and this is my Graceland, rather I saw what was once an innovative auto manufacturer wondering if there will be a tomorrow. I was invited by an old friend and former Saab employee to spend two days road testing two Saabs which may or may not arrive in Canada… The new Saab 93X and 94X.
I must confess a deep love for Sweden. My Drive from MalmÃƒÂ¶ to TrollhÃƒÂ¤ttan could easily have been a typical Canadian’s weekend run up to the cottage. If I turned off the radio and just looked around I swear I could be in Muskoka. Besides the landscape, we share quite a bit with the Swedes. Whether it is the weather, universal health care or hockey, we have more in common with Sverige than our neighbours to the south.
My first day was spent with the 2010 Saab 93X 1.9ttid. Touring around the car I was first impressed by the styling. Saab has taken a 93 Sport-combi and raised ride height 3.5 cms. The aggressive front air dam and front and rear skid plates make you want to get off the highway and take the gravel roads.Ã‚Â A representative from Saab even explained that the side skirts around the wheel wells was designed toÃ‚Â keep your doors a little cleaner when driving down those gravel roads. It is powered by a 1.9 litre twin turbo diesel mated with a six speed automatic, powering the front wheels with 180bhp.
It was a wet run from TrollhÃƒÂ¤ttan to GÃƒÂ¶teborg. I am traveling with my friend BjÃƒÂ¶rn and a dealer from Falun. Due to my limited Swedish and nerves of taking the car I suggested BjÃƒÂ¶rn lead us out of town. I would take over somewhere along the E45. The diesel was quiet. According to the guys at Saab this engine gets a respectable combined city/highway rating 5.5l/100kms with the sixÃ‚Â speed manual andÃ‚Â 6.9l/100kms with the automatic. People may not be crying at the pumps now but how easy do we forget last summer. I am sure I saw a teary eyed man driving a Hummer begging for change on the 400. Driving at highway speed the wind and engine noiseÃ‚Â is so faint.Ã‚Â The seats are very comfortable. While IÃ‚Â wish they had more lateral support, I must say that I could spend hours in these seats and arrive at my destination fresh.
We stopped in a little town called Lilla Edet. After a quick pit stop for mat och dryck (food and drink) I got my chance at the wheel. Saab’s aircraft heritage is evident in the cabin layout. All the controls are within easy reach and the design of the satellite radio just below the air vents is wonderful. HVAC controls are lower on the centre console. You just set them and forget them. I have driven several diesels in the past. The Saab’sÃ‚Â 1.9 diesel accelerates smoothly and quickly off the line. The diesel does produce around 295 lb/ft @1850 rpms. The car is surefooted in the twists and turns, and is quiet enough to listen to Diana Krall’s new CD without cranking the stereo. After an hour behind the wheel I pull into a petrol station. We don’t have to fill the Saab, but I am struck by the abundance of E85 pumps across this country. My time behind the wheel ended quicker than I wished. JÃƒÂ¶rg the dealer will lead us into downtown GÃƒÂ¶teborg.
Saab seems a tad late for the Crossover wagon party. Audi, Subaru and Volvo all have produced offroadish wagons in the past. The outback is still on most young families test drive list. Audi is coming out with a new A4 allroad. Volvo has its XC70 buyers. Whoever becomes the new owners of Saab I have a couple of pieces of advice. Don’t abandon the Canadian market and please don’t use Gm’s market research on the North American market re: diesels. Canadians love their diesels. Just look at the sales of VW and Mercedes. Clean diesels sell in Canada just like they do in the rest of the world.Ã‚Â We are Nordic nation with a penchant for hockey, the outdoors, and universal health care. Like I said we have more in common with Sweden than you realize.