Trollhattan is a very cold place in the south of Sweden and is on the same 58 degrees latitude as the southern Alaska border. It’s also the home of Saab and where the all-new Saab 9-5 will be built.
I was one of many people hanging around the Saab stand at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, for two equally important reasons.
Saab staff was serving delicious bowls of Swedish pea soup called artsoppa, along with all kinds of equally delicious carbonated fruit juice.
More importantly, everyone was waiting for the reveal of the latest creation from Saab, the all-new 9-5, a car the company hopes will spawn a new era for what was once was a popular but quirky Swedish carmaker.
I also made eye contact with Christian Von Koenigsegg, the CEO of the Koenigsegg Group, who has all but bought Saab Automobile back from General Motors.
We met Christian at his Koenigsegg factory in Angelholm in Sweden, during our high-speed testing of the Koenigsegg CCX supercar, earlier this year.
Like most Swedes, he is incredibly polite, despite the obvious pressure he is under to wrap up the purchase, and get on with the job of reviving the ailing fortunes of Saab.
He passionately believes in the potential of Saab and said, “Our plan is to transform Saab into a stand-alone vibrant entrepreneurial company and make it ‘sustainable’ by making it profitable. We will revive Saab’s Swedish heritage of ecological sensitivity, safety, design innovation and ‘fun to drive’ experience!”
Smooth integrated lines, a wraparound windshield and design cues from the recent Aero X concept car, the 9-5 looks impressive.
It’s also the most advanced production car Saab has ever built, with some interesting kit on board. There are a number of green-lit driver displays in the cockpit including a sophisticated head-up display (Pilot HUD) in the windshield and an 8-inch touch screen Satellite Navigation system with hard drive. Music files are accessed via a 10 GB of jukebox style music files.
On the road the 9-5 is said to be a rewarding driving experience, with its 2.8-litre V6 engine and adaptive chassis control with various driver settings.
Also available will be a high powered 2.8 V6 engine developing 223kW (300 bhp) and 400Nm of torque driving through Saab’s sophisticated all-wheel drive system (XWD) with a rear eLSD.
In due course, a smaller 2.0-litre petrol turbo with 165kW will be offered.
When Koenigsegg finally takes control of Saab, get ready for some quality product with all the quirkiness and safety features that Saab was famous for.
Here’s a list of Saab innovations over the years:
- 1958: The GT 750 is the first car fitted with seatbelts as standard.
- 1963: Saab becomes the first volume maker to offer diagonally-split dual brake circuits.
- 1969: Saab creates an ignition system near the gearbox, instead of behind the steering wheel like most cars.
- 1970: Saab introduces a world-first - headlamp wipers and washers.
- 1971: Heated front seats are introduced, the first time in the world they are fitted as standard.
- 1971: Saab develops the impact-absorbing, self-repairing bumper.
- 1976: Saab was the first manufacturer to produce a turbo engine with wastegate to control boost.
- 1978: Saab introduces another 'world-first,' the passenger compartment air filter (pollen filter).
- 1980: Saab introduces Automatic Performance Conrol (APC), and an anti-knock sensor that allowed higher fuel economy and the use of lower grade fuel without engine damage.
- 1981: Saab introduces the split-field side mirror. This reduces the drivers blind spot.
- 1982: Saab introduces asbestos-free brake pads.
- 1983: Saab introduces the 16-valve turbocharged engine
- 1985: Saab pioneers direct injection, eliminating the distributor and spark plug wires.
- 1991: Saab introduces a 'light-pressure' turbo.
- 1991: Saab is the first manufacturer to offer CFC-free air-conditioning.
- 1991: Saab develops its 'Tronic' engine management system, equipped with a 32-bit micro-processor.
- 1993: Saab introduces the 'Sensor clutch' and the 'Black Panel', later to be called the 'Night Panel'.
- 1993: Saab develops the 'Safeseat' rear passenger protection system.
- 1994: Saab introduces the 'Tronic T5.5' engine management system, its processor is a Motorola 683332.
- 1995: Saab presents an asymmetrically turbocharged V6 at the Motor Show in Frakfurt, Germany.
- 1996: Saab introduces active head restraints (SAHR), which help minimize the risk of whiplash.
- 1997: Saab introduces Electronic Brake-force Distribution
- 1997: Saab fits ventilated front seats to their new 9-5
- 1997: Saab introduces ComSense; an alert delay feature that reduces the risk of distraction by briefly postponing lower priority alerts when the brakes or indicators are activated
- 2000: Saab introduces Saab Variable compression, an engine in which the compression ratio is varied by tilting the cylinder head in relation to the pistons.
- 2002: Saab developed ReAxs System provides crisp steering feedback and contributes to enhanced driving stability in curves
- 2003: Saab introduces CargoSET; automatic storage well retraction for the convertible, a two-step tonneau action for quicker soft-top deployment
- 2008: Saab introduces Cross-wheel drive, an advanced all-wheel drive system with eLSD.