Archive for November, 2007

The M08 Saab 9-3 Turbo-X Debut – Boston, Massachusetts

Posted on 30. Nov, 2007 by .



Photo Credit: Saab History

Carl Levine, the genius behind the Audio Troll Ipod Integration accessory, had the great opportunity to report for Nines Magazine at the North American premiere of the MY 2008 Saab 9-3 Turbo-X.

Here is well written review of the experience in his own words:


M08 Saab 9-3 Turbo-X Debut

By Carl Levine

BOSTON – Boston, Massachusetts is a city that is all about heritage. It is one of the oldest cities in the country, with roots of our nation’s founding planted deep within her soil, home of some of professional sports’ greatest organizations and the earliest port of entry for a certain car manufacturer we all know and love. Yes, some fifty years ago the newly formed Saab Motors, Inc. of New York City chose the port town of Hingham, just south of Boston, to be the first port of entry for a humble little coupe called a SAAB 93B.

The launch of a new car is always an exciting event, especially when it’s an hour from home and in such a great new location. Located across the harbor from where Saab got its start in America, the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center is the new home of the New England International Auto Show; a vast improvement over the dark, poorly laid out Bayside Exposition Center down near Dorchester. I arrived about 15 hours early for the launch to assist Ryan from Saab History who was there to film the event. One of the first obvious Boston clichés happened as I stood in the lobby of the hotel adjacent to the convention center and fellow New England native, and General Manager of Saab Autombile USA, Steve Shannon stopped to say hello; sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name!

I spent the evening socializing with a couple members of the press, as well as people from Saab’s communication department and product marketing departments. It had been a few good years since I had the chance to chat about some of the behind-the-scenes stuff with anyone in this capacity, and I don’t believe I’ve ever had a discussion about torque steer over dinner, so that was pretty neat. Through this experience, I learned about GM’s renewed commitment to the brand, that the people at Saab were calling Turbo-X “Black Turbo” as some of the blogs had speculated the car’s name to be for some time, and that a refreshed product range is in the works in coming years.

Tuesday morning was the big event. With a grande egg nog latte from that certain trendy and ubiquitous coffee chain warming my hand, Ryan and I made it a point to go down to the front of the hotel just before sunrise to capture time-lapse footage of the sun rising over the facade of the new convention center, and the stunning Ice Blue 2008 9-3 Aero convertible out front. Ryan’s brother Kyle came down from just north of the city to assist him with the videotaping efforts for his site, and we proceeded to acquire our press credentials. Once on the show floor, the vast expanse of the new convention center could be truly realized; and in the theme of Saab’s marketing as of late, it was interesting to note that the structure was very reminiscent of an aircraft hangar both in size and design.

The Saab stand shone like a beacon of Scandinavian brilliance amidst its GM brethren. Huge backlit signs divided the space with sweeping panoramic views of roads once thought to be the product of dreams, with a 9-3 Aero driving along or that classic picture of the Saab 92 sitting under the wing of a Saab J21A superimposed on a image of the Aero-X sitting on a runway. In the section where the Turbo-X would be launched, there were two other cars sitting. One was a replica of the Aero-X concept (as seen at SOC07) and the other was the newly restored 1985 Saab 900 Turbo SPG from the GM Heritage Collection; a fine example of the original series of “Black Turbos”.

At 9am, Steve Shannon, the General Manager of Saab Automobile USA took to the stage. Steve is a native of the area, so he was excited that the car would be launched in his home town. Boston holds a great deal of significance for Saab, both as its original port of entry but also the nucleus of its largest American market. Much like the once beleaguered and now legendary Boston Red Sox, Saab is up to bat with its best intentions and as soon as Steve and Bob “Uncle Bob” Sinclair pulled the wraps off the Turbo-X it was as if Jonathan Papelbon himself were there, throwing in that last strikeout to win the series all over again. Truly, the Turbo-X is a glowing example of Saab’s dominance in the area of responsible performance, active safety and innovative design. Jet black metallic paint flanked the lowered body, with titanium-colored accents on the grille, fog lamp surrounds, trunk handle and distinctive split
3-spoke alloy wheels.

The most crucial part of this product launch is Saab’s new Cross Wheel Drive (XWD) system, a feature that will transcend the 9-3 range down from the Turbo-X over the next few years. XWD is an amazing new evolution of Haldex’s AWD technology which has been featured in a number of Audi, Volkswagen and Volvo products over the past several years. XWD is the 4th generation of AWD systems from Haldex, and uses Controller Area Network (CAN) technology to intuitively interact with other systems in the car including the engine control module, transmission control module (automatic models), electronic stability program (ESP), and anti-lock brake system (ABS) among others. This allows XWD to intelligently send power from the front wheels to the back wheels in roughly 10 milliseconds. Turbo-X also includes eLSD, an electronically controlled limited slip differential for the rear drive module which can shift the power at the rear of the car to either side. eLSD will be an option on the regular 9-3 Aero XWD models that are due out this spring alongside this limited production Turbo-X Steve proceeded to refer to the Turbo-X “the most satisfying Saab of all time”, mostly on account of its enhanced handling capability from the XWD, enhanced suspension and braking systems and the 2.8L V6 Turbo which makes as much torque as a BMW M3 V8… two thousand RPMs lower. Turbo-X comes fully equipped with just about every box you can tick off on the order sheet: Premium black heated leather seats, satellite navigation, carbon fiber inserts on the door panels and shift bezel, a really sharp looking rear spoiler on the sedan model and the ability to have a personalized greeting message show up on the SID when you start the car.

Checking out the Turbo-X after the presentation, I was thoroughly impressed by the materials on the interior of the car. The seat leather was a lot softer than that of a stock 9-3, and a bit more grippy as a result. The steering wheel had a very similar treatment, and its thickness can be best associated with that of a late 70’s/early 80’s Saab Sport and Rally steering wheel. But as much as I loved checking out this new car, there was some 22 year old sexiness staring me down from across the booth. Swedish, sleek, athletic and all dressed up with nowhere to go. I’m talking of course about the fully restored SPG that GM brought along as a tribute to the age of conspicuous consumption, the 1980’s. I could just hear that Kajagoogoo playing in my head as I made my way over to this fine piece of machinery. The car was impossibly black, with only a few little details out of place that only a C900 nerd such as myself (or Linnea, Johnny del or Jeff Proposki, who were also there ogling this thing) could pick out. To me, having the SPG at the show specifically for the purpose of expressing the Turbo-X’s heritage is a bold move by GM to cement their commitment to the brand in the minds of the consumers aware of their ownership. It was certainly more than what the other brands were doing.

And just what were the competition up to this year? Well, I took a little stroll to find out. About a stone’s throw away from Saab’s stand was my favorite, recently divorced car brand, Mercedes-Benz. That new C-class looks nice and all, but unlike Saab, their quality has been slipping since the mid-90’s when they strayed from the nice boxy 124-chassis cars in the E-class and started complicating things. I wasn’t impressed, so I moved on rather quickly. Audi showed up with their R8 supercar, which really has no relevance when you consider it’s a completely different genre of conveyance. They had the new A5/S5 coupe series, along with an RS-4 cabriolet; while I haven’t driven an Audi in a few years, I wasn’t shocked to see that the driver’s environment is still a bleak expanse of miniature buttons and little orange indicators. Where was Audi’s heritage car? Was Saab the only brand who cared about where the inspiration for their cars comes from? Apparently, because the BMW people didn’t have a 2002Tii sitting next to the new 135i — the apparent spiritual successor to the 2002-series. Shame. They had an E92 M3 coupe up on a platform, out of reach from the peasantry. I don’t see why, honestly. They had a 335xi coupe on the floor next to it, and it was rubbish. All the controls looked really overcomplicated, the seats felt like the vinyl ones in a 1974 2002 Tii (well, maybe they didn’t need the old car afterall!) and the Turbo-X makes just 5 ft/lb less torque as that twin-turbo I-6. Why would anyone in their right mind pay $52k for a car that can be outdone by a Swedish one for $10k less (fully, fully, fully loaded). Then came Volvo… well, I didn’t even
bother with them for more than 3 minutes but I know I’d be crying if I were the engineer in Sweden who put his heart and soul into designing a platform that underpins a poorly selling American fleet queen like the Taurus. If you want to talk about a Swedish brand who has lost their soul, it was never Saab.

Upon returning to the stand, the show workers had already torn down most of the temporary partitions that were used for staging the launch and moved the Aero X onto a platform. I got a last good look at both the Turbo-X and the SPG before going to a lunch with a keynote by Bryan Nesbitt, VP of GM North America design. When lunch was over, I thanked and bid farewell to my friends from General Motors who really went above and beyond to ensure that SCNA/Nines Magazine had access to all the resources to really make the most of the New England International Auto Show experience.

To recap, the Turbo-X is coming to our shores in March/April. They’re only making 600 for our market, so you’d best get down to your favorite local Saab dealer with a pen in hand getting ready to commit to $42,510 for a sedan or $43,310 for a SportCombi if this is something you want to get your hands on. If you do it before January 31st, and happen to be one of the first 100 to do so, you get a free trip to the Aero Academy’s special XWD training class at Road Atlanta!

Until next time, happy Saabin’ and have a festive holiday season!

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The Saab 9-3 Turbo-X Premiere – Boston, Massachusetts

Posted on 30. Nov, 2007 by .


Film Credits: Saab History, Bader TV (Driving Footage)
Photo Credits: Saab Automobile

On Tuesday, November 27th, 2007 I attended the Saab 9-3 Turbo X North American Premiere at the New England Auto Show in Boston, Massachusetts.

As a guest invited by Saab Automobile USA & GM to report on this truly historic event and much anticipated halo car for the Saab Automobile brand, it was extremely important to me to not only provide some outstanding writeups on the experience and steller photography in due time, but high quality video footage of the launch as well in 16:9 widescreen format.

It was Saab & General Motors that ensured my logistics as well as Saab History’s most recent site sponsor, Saab of Hunterdon that ultimately confirmed my access to the necessary equipment to rent in order to film this historical event for Saab Automobile here in the United States.

In an effort to continue the logical practice of posting the video and photography prior to my writeups, I will continue my coverage with a video. This video begins with the formal unveiling of the Saab 9-3 Turbo-X by the President of Saab Automobile USA, Steve Shannon and former president of Saab-Scania of America, Inc. (1979-1991) Robert J. Sinclair. The film transitions from the unveiling to the inspirations of the Saab Turbo-X by Bryan Nesbitt, GM Vice President of GM North America Design, one of the proud designers of the Saab Aero-X concept car. The footage ultimately concludes with a wrap-up by Steve Shannon and a media invite to view the Turbo-X on stage.

A thank you to Saab Automobile USA & General Motors for extending their invite to this historic event as well as Saab of Hunterdon for the video footage sponsorship.

I hope you enjoy the film as I thoroughly enjoyed making it.

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Saab History Welcomes Saab of Hunterdon as Sponsor!

Posted on 29. Nov, 2007 by .



Photo Credit: Saab of Hunterdon

Saab History Welcomes Saab of Hunterdon as Sponsor! Saab of Hunterdon in Lebanon, New Jersey right off of route 78 has recently signed on as a site sponsor and I am extremely happy to see them support these efforts.

This proactive dealership goes above and beyond and as you will read below, they really embody the former SAAB advertising slogan in their own unique way with “Never Compromise”.

Please read about their long history below in their own words:

As a proud member of the family owned and operated JMK Auto Group, Saab of Hunterdon’s foundation is built upon over 30 years of experience and excellence in Saab Service, Sales and Parts. Our State of the art facility which opened in September of 2004 and is located in rustic Clinton Township, New Jersey, is where you will find a wide selection of both New and Certified Pre-Owned Saab’s.

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Saab Automobile USA Launches Turbo-X Webpage

Posted on 29. Nov, 2007 by .



Saab Automobile USA has just launched a Turbo-X landing page on their site, emphasizing the “X” factor for this much anticipated true halo car for the Saab Automobile brand.

If you find yourself or a colleague purchasing a Saab Turbo-X, I highly suggest taking the opportunity for this once-in-a-lifetime chance to participate in the super special Saab Turbo-X driving academy as one of the first 100 owners.

I highly suggest you take a look at this landing page which is complete with multimedia content, information and a competitive analysis section.

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2008 SAAB Turbo X: Black To The Future

Posted on 28. Nov, 2007 by .



Photo Credit: Saab History

Saab Automobile USA just released this press release in parallel to the Saab Turbo-X North American launch event that took place at the 2007 Boston Auto Show.


2008 SAAB Turbo X: Black To The Future

BOSTON – Saab celebrates three decades of leadership in turbocharging by launching the 2008 Saab Turbo X, a driver-focused performance car that sets new standards of performance and capability for the brand.

Flanked by a classic, black 1985 Saab 900 SPG, the new Saab Turbo X made its North American debut at the 2007 New England International Auto Show in Boston – paying tribute to the Northeast region where Saab originally started its U.S. business more than half a century ago, and where many longtime Saab aficionados reside.

“The Turbo X is the ultimate performance expression of the new Saab 9-3 range,” said Saab Automobile USA General Manager Steve Shannon. “It delivers levels of driver involvement and dynamic chassis control never experienced before from Saab .”

The first turbocharged Saab, a 99 hatchback, debuted in the fall of 1977. Combining brisk performance with excellent fuel economy, that car started a trend that was followed by many other manufacturers. Now, the all-black Turbo X takes Saab “back to the future,” evoking the iconic appeal of the first black 99 and 900 Turbos – and introducing innovative Saab XWD all-wheel-drive technology.

“Like the enthusiasts who have remained loyal from the first turbo models, we are very proud of our turbocharging heritage,” said Shannon. “The new Turbo X is one of the most satisfying Saabs ever built.”

Already hailed as a future classic, the Saab Turbo X will become available in four-door Sport Sedan and five-door SportCombi body styles. It has styling cues that enhance aerodynamic performance and create a distinctive appearance, including specially designed 18-inch alloy wheels that have a grey, titanium-like finish that harks back to Saab’s classic three-spoke design. The “black turbo” theme is continued in the well-equipped interior, which carries unique appointments.

For the 2008 model year only 600 examples – split between both body styles – will come to the United States. Pricing starts at $42,510 for the Sport Sedan and $43,310 for the SportCombi; and first deliveries will be made in spring 2008.

XWD driving experience

A new dimension in chassis control is realized with the Turbo X, leveraging Saab’s unrivalled experience in turbocharging with the innovative Saab XWD system. Combined with the car’s sport-tuned suspension, brakes and electronic control systems, the Turbo X is engineered to meet a single need: Driving satisfaction.

Saab XWD is an active all-wheel-drive system designed to optimize vehicle handling and stability. Its sophisticated electronic control allows fine balancing of drive torque, not only between the two axles but also between the rear wheels. In effect, this stretches the performance envelope of the chassis; for example, raising the threshold at which ESP throttle and braking interventions are triggered. The result is closer driver involvement through “positive force” chassis control.

The driving benefits of the XWD system are best appreciated on the open road. Data from the ABS/ESP sensors – measuring wheel speed, yaw rate and steering angle – is analyzed by the Saab XWD control module. At appropriate moments, rear drive is instantly applied to balance oversteer and understeer characteristics, improving stability and road-holding.

Driver control is taken a step further on the Turbo X by the eLSD, the first application of an electronically controlled, rear limited-slip differential in the segment. It uses inputs from the rear-wheel speed sensors and can transfer up to 40 percent of torque between the drive shafts, to whichever wheel has more grip. When cornering hard, this yaw damping effect helps the rear of the car more closely follow the direction of the front wheels.

To exploit the full benefits of Saab XWD, the chassis of the Turbo X has been lowered 10 mm and the springs and dampers optimized to minimize body movement. To maintain a constant ride height, self-leveling dampers are fitted at the rear.

Stopping power is also increased with larger brake discs fitted: internally ventilated, 13.6-inch-diameter (345 mm) at the front; and externally ventilated, 11.5-inch (292 mm) at the rear. Standard 235/45 R18 tires ensure excellent grip for the 18-inch alloy wheels.

The powerhouse at the heart of the Turbo X is a 24-valve, 2.8L V-6 turbo engine generating 295 lb.-ft. (400 Nm) of torque between 2,150 rpm and 4,500 rpm; and maximum power of 280 horsepower (206 kW) at 5,500 rpm. Design features include a lightweight, all-aluminum construction, with a 60-degree angle between the cylinder banks for perfect balance; variable-inlet valve timing and twin-scroll turbocharging. It is offered with a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions.

This responsive, high-torque powerplant is the perfect partner for Saab XWD. Together, they give the Saab Turbo X sporty, all-wheel-drive performance and handling characteristics that will appeal to all enthusiastic drivers who seek a rewarding experience behind the wheel.

Black is back

The Saab Turbo X visually communicates its focus on driving performance by extending the bold, progressive design themes of the new 9-3 range. Offered exclusively in metallic jet black, with the front grille and all exterior detailing accented in a matte grey titanium-like finish, it represents a contemporary expression of its illustrious black 900 Turbo forebear.

Distinctive styling additions are designed to improve aerodynamic efficiency, as well as emphasize the Turbo X’s performance focus. At the front, a deeper lip spoiler and integrated air intake contribute to reduced drag while also increasing air flow to the engine and intercooler.

At the rear, the re-profiled fascia and diffuser-like insert panel lower the point of air flow separation, further reducing drag and assisting high-speed stability. The Sport Sedan features a rear spoiler that extends the line of the trunk deck, reducing high speed lift forces at the rear axle. The regular SportCombi already has a standard spoiler that extends the rear roof line. Twin, rhomboid-shaped tailpipes complete the exterior additions.

Inside, the black turbo theme is continued throughout the cabin. The sport seating, with additional bolstering, is upholstered entirely in black-appointed leather. The sporty ambience is further emphasized by a carbon-fiber finish to the door inserts, glove box and gear shift console, which is unique to the Turbo X.

The driver benefits from improved feel, through the addition of a thick-rimmed, soft-grip leather steering wheel. In recognition of Saab’s turbo heritage, the Turbo X boost gauge is a replica of the original 900 Turbo display.

Owners will also enjoy a personalized greeting when they get behind the wheel and switch on the ignition. A unique “All Systems Go” message flashes in the main instrument display. The owner’s name, with the edition number of the car, can also be programmed for display by the supplying dealer.

Saab is a division of General Motors Corp. Saab Automobile USA is the importer and/or distributor of Saab 9-3, 9-5 and 9-7X automobiles for Saab Automobile AB, Sweden. Visit for more information.




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Saab Turbo X at the Boston Auto Show

Posted on 28. Nov, 2007 by .



Photo Credit: Saab History

I just returned from the 2007 Boston Auto Show and enjoyed an incredible experience thanks to Saab & General Motors. I have an enormous amount of quality content that I will be getting up on the site in due time. Your patience is much appreciated and please keep watching this space.

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Saab History Travels to Boston Auto Show

Posted on 25. Nov, 2007 by .



Photo Credit: Massachusetts Convention Center Authority

Saab History will be travelling to the 2007 Boston Auto Show thanks to Saab Cars, USA for the North American premiere of the Saab Turbo-X that takes place during the morning of November 27th, 2007.

At the Saab display at the 2007 Boston Auto Show, we should also be excited to see the now completely restored 1985 Saab SPG , now a new addition to the Saab USA Heritage Collection which is also in black that will be located alongside the Turbo-X.

As you have come to expect high quality coverage here on Saab History, I will of course not only be photographing this event, but I will also be filming this engagement in its entirety thanks to a recent yet to be named Saab dealership sponsor here in the United States.

If you are interested in attending the Boston Auto Show during the public showing, please make sure you stop by during these dates below to see the Saab Turbo-X and the restored 1985 Saab SPG on display.

What: Boston Auto Show
When: November 28th-December 2nd.
Where: 415 Summer Street
Boston, MA 02210

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Boston Auto Show November, 2001

Posted on 25. Nov, 2007 by .



Photo Credit: Saab History

With the 2007 Boston Auto Show around the corner I thought I’d reflect on the last time I managed to get to the Boston Auto Show back in November of 2001 at the Bayside Expo Center.

It was Public Relations Manager, Dan Prescott formerly of Saab Cars, USA Western Region, a recent donor to the Saab Film Project here on Saab History, who extended press passes to myself and other members of the New England Saab Association to represent Saab at the club level to be present at the 2001 Boston Auto Show – Saab Display.

2.jpgIt was at the 2001 Boston Auto Show where the new MY2002 Saab 9-5 was introduced and former Saab Cars, USA president, Dan Chasins did a keynote discussing Saab’s current status and this new model launch. The new 9-5 was the first vehicle that Saab introduced that included amongst many things, the integrated grille and bumper design that continued on with the Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan a few years later. The Saab 9-5 was clearly the flagship model being promoted at the Saab exhibit at the 2001 Boston Auto Show.

4.jpgThe Saab display area was well spaced and it was surprising to see all of the model variants being showcased throughout the Scandinavian furniture and displays. The informational electronic kiosks were also extremely helpful in order to immediately access the details and specifications on each model. That being said, I did find that the lighting or lack thereof was problematic in best illuminating the Saab products as well as the overall area with the overarching shadows it created. In addition, the dark carpeted flooring material was not the best choice in which to exhibit automobiles that was provided, which seems to have been the case for every automobile manufacturer at the auto show.

3.jpgThe best part of the press day at the Boston Auto Show, involved the test drives. As press pass holders, we had the opportunity to test-drive any of current model offerings which consisted of the MY2002 9-5 Sedan and Combi and a 9-3 Viggen 3-Door around a route alongside the Boston harbour. I think that having the opportunity to test drive the vehicles that were on display was extremely important for contextualizing the passive educational experience we have all come to expect at auto shows, so this component made the experience that much more important.

Having the opportunity to be invited to the 2001 Boston Auto Show along with my fellow colleagues with the club at that time was memorable and I thank Dan Prescott as well as Saab Cars, USA for extending the opportunity to us.

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Production Concept