I patiently wait outside the station to be picked up by Jason from Malcolm Miles. For a while I watch a sea of bland cars pass by then I suddenly spot the crisp, bright lights of a Saab approaching. A beautifully clean 9-3 Aero convertible in steel grey, it has a perfectly balanced stance, low but not too low, it pulls up next to me and I hear the distinct deep burble of a tuned Saab – oh yes.
There’s something seriously special about the first time you get to try out a tuned Saab, how different will it feel? how will it handle? will all the effort and money spent be that noticeable? I get in the 9-3 and we drive steadily through the morning traffic, it feels good, smoother, the new suspension setup feels infinitely sharper and tighter even on a slow drive through city streets. In third, we give the throttle a gentle nudge and the TCS light pops on for a moment, the Saab regains traction and the new engine gives us a hint of it’s capability – wow.
The 9-3 has spent 3 weeks with Jason and his team at Malcolm Miles, what they don’t know about Saabs, possibly isn’t worth knowing, I’ve trusted them to create a special Saab, one that ultimately puts a huge smile on my face every time I drive it, Jason tells me though, “there’s still more to do”, but it already feels pretty special.
They’ve taken a B234 bottom end from the amazing 9000 Aero and paired it with a B235 head, it’s had all new gaskets and seals, new 3 part clutch, timing kit, a brand new turbo and numerous other items. It’s then had a bit of magic added by Karl of NoobTune to push output to around 280+ hp and all finished off with cat back stainless steel 2.5” pipes. The stance has been created using a set of Bilstein B8’s together with MapTun springs, and we’ve kept the standard double 3 spoke alloys as they are perfectly designed for the 9-3 Aero.
Home time, I’ve waited long enough now, the 9-3 needs a real drive – a mix of city, country and fast roads await. After a few miles, the roads clear and what has so far been a relaxed, impeccably behaved car, instantly turns into an unbelievably fast one, the new B234 has added a huge amount of grunt and feels so much more powerful throughout the range, everything happens quickly, there’s no turbo lag and acceleration seems never-ending, bloody hell it’s good.
These 9-3 convertibles can sometimes feel rather unhinged at speed, but this now feels firmly grounded, it sticks to the road beautifully and feels hugely capable. The new exhaust has added an extra pleasurable dimension to the note and only improves under pressure, the miles go by quickly and I change my route home to make it last a little longer.
Huge hugs to the folks at Malcolm Miles and NoobTune, they’ve managed to deliver a Saab that now has a new lease of life and most importantly, puts a smile on my face all the way home.