Wednesday, 25 November 2009

What's Saab with that?

If you think about continental cars, you'd think about luxury brands such as Mercedes, BMW, Audi or Volvo. If you're feeling rich, perhaps marques such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Zonda, Maserati, Bugatti or Aston Martin will interest you. If you're feeling mainstream, be sure to check out Volkswagen, Peugeot, Citroen or Renault. If your taste runs a little more niche, you might even want to look at Jaguars, Alfa Romeos, MINI or Landrovers.

But what on earth can possibly compel someone to buy a... Saab?

Saab is the Swedish car-maker that hails from the land which gave us Volvo, Ikea and Abba. But unlike its more famous compatriots, many drivers never even heard of Saab. It's almost akin to saying Lada when you mention Saab to mainstream drivers whose knowledge of continental cars are limited to the big luxurious three (that's Mercedes/BMW/Audi for you).

Saab was the spunky Swedish car company unlike anyone else. For starters, it was initially owned by a parent company company which built planes. Not just commercial planes - Saab AB built kick-ass European fighter jets such as the Gripen/Griffen. But sometime in 1989, Saab automobile was purchased by General Motors and lost its soul, churning out cars which did not possess as much character as the original models. An entire series of corporate mistakes saw Saab's sale tumble.

Don't bother visiting your nearest Saab dealership for these Saab.

But there are scores of motoring enthusiasts who still like Saab cars, with yours truly being one of them. Sure Saab might have lost some of its soul with the GM engine and such, but it still has plenty of character left. I might not like its dull instrument display or the number of buttons on the dashboard, but it has the coolest cup holder I've ever seen (tip: if you're in a Saab, make sure you get the owner to demonstrate how it unfolds). The design of a Saab is distinctive, and it has a Scandinavian handsomeness to it, even though I hate the chrome around the current Saab 9-5.

But what I truly like about it - is how it walks softly and carries a big stick. You see, it may not look like it, but underneath the Swedish gentleman appearance lies the soul of a raging Viking. Saab is one of the strongest proponent of turbocharging, from way back in the 1970s. And the way Saab cars are designed are different - the turbos are not the crude and loud business you find in Japanese rockets.

Looking good topless...

Instead, Saab built the turbos to deliver the maximum amount of torque in the mid-range, which makes it very easy to overtake another vehicle on the move. So while you're driving in the city, most of the instances when you need fast pick-up are during the moments you wish to overtake, and the Saab makes it a real breeze. Say you're traveling at 40km/h behind a truck - simply signal out and tap on the gas, and you'd be hitting 80km/h before you know it. The pick-up in the mid-range is simply unbelievable!

If you buy a Saab, you're either an engineer, architect, doctor or dentist. Or you could be a motoring enthusiast. If you belong to the latter group, you probably tuned your Saab to deliver even more power. The thing about the Swedish is that they're pretty prude when delivering the stock cars, but everyone knows that they're really Vikings in disguise, waiting to be handed their horned helmets and a club. Saabs can be easily tuned by flashing the ECUs with a different set of software, and that reprograms their brains to release the Viking within. By swapping a few parts out and reprogramming the ECUs, some Saabs can achieve in excess of 500 bhp under their bonnet!

By the way, Saab has been acquired by Swedish sports car manufacturer Koenigsegg in 2009, stopping the rot from GM's ownership. I suppose Saab cars are going to get even faster... and hopefully the acceleration applies to its sales figure as well. So if you're thinking of owning a continental brand that does spell yuppie (spelt as mercbmadui), and you cannot handle the flamboyance of a Alfa, consider a Saab. Yes... even if you're not a doctor, engineer or architect.

1 comment:

  1. 100 % correct statements and opinion.