We are many. We are Saab. Part II

Just a few more photos I took at the We are many. We are Saab meeting at SAAB GB HQ on Sunday 15th January 2012.

A huge thank you to the people who have organsied these global meetings over the past month or so, it really was amazing to see so many beautiful SAABs in one place, and also to see the love and loyalty the brand still inspires.

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We are many. We are Saab.

Sunday 15th January 2012, SAAB GB HQ, Cranfield, England

An absolutely gorgeous ‘almost Nordic’ morning, deep blue skies, zero degrees, and the promise of a great meeting of mighty SAABs.

We arrived a few minutes past 11, the car park already packed with SAABs and owners, I couldn’t quite hold back a huge grin as a great sense of pride overwhelmed me, what a wonderful sight.

After one of the SAAB Owners Club members directed us to a parking spot, we excitedly hopped out of our 9-3, and were greeted by a row of seriously classic SAABs; an immaculate orange 96 saloon, a Sonett, another 96 and an iconic 900 Turbo convertible, what a great start.

I’d imagine there must have been over 200 SAABs there, and what seemed like every single, conceivable model ever produced. Proud owners happily chatting and showing off cars, families crowding around the rally legend Erik Carlsson and everyone just enjoying the moment, what a stunning tribute to the power of SAAB.

The Neo Brothers über tuned 9-3 was there in all its glory, as was a unique 9-3 convertible with Lambo doors and carbon fibre bonnet, I also spotted yet another 9-3 with some fine Abbott Racing tweaks. There seemed to be a good showing of beautiful 9-5s too, a few with DK plates on which were great to see.

Everyone managed to be drawn away from the cars just long enough to have a group photo taken with guest of honour: Erik Carlsson, then it was back to the serious business of SAABs.

We had to leave before the convoy set off, so possibly didn’t experience the full power of the meet, however, what I can say, is that there is a huge amount of love for SAAB here in the UK – the news of SAAB GB becoming SAAB Parts UK Limited bringing with it the ability to keep our cars of the road, has at least been a small step in the right direction. I still pray that the outstanding warranty is honoured on our new SAAB sometime soon.

Any parties interested in purchasing SAAB should be (gently) slapped around the face and made to read about every single ‘We are many. We are Saab’ event that happened this past weekend. They’ll soon see they have a seriously loyal group of people who believe SAABs are more a way of life than just a car. Go find that in any other brand.

I’ll be adding more images from the Cranfield meeting when I’ve had more time to go through them all.

Introducing the newest member to our SAAB family; a 9-3 Sport Combi.

After bringing home our new SAAB 9-3 saloon a good few months ago now, my wife became rather fond of it and decided she’d like to change her BMW 118d for a 9-3 Sport Combi, and here it is.

We drove 150 miles yesterday to collect it from a lovely dealer in Wirral, Merseyside, it was originally leased from SAAB GB, and has had one very careful private owner since then. It’s a Vector Sport 1.9 TiD with some goodies including the aluminium roof rails, Xenon headlights, upgraded stereo and although standard, sits on an attractive set of 17″ SAAB alloys.

It’s in one of my favourite colour combinations for the Sport Combi; deep metallic petrol blue with Cream Sport leather interior, and it’s really been looked after.

I’ve ordered a set of roof bars and my son and I can make the most of it with some Autumn mountain biking.

Sitting elegantly next to my 9-3 saloon on the driveway, I can’t help thinking how amazingly fresh these SAABs still look, and after driving behind the Sport Combi for our 150 mile journey home yesterday, it gave me enough time to study the rear end, and I truly think it still has to be one of the most beautiful estate cars on the road.

Welcome home!

The Journey. Hosted by a SAAB 9-3

When it comes to the daily commute things can get rather monotonous to say the least – the same road, the same times, the same traffic…

I drive around 30 – 40 miles a day from home to my office and then back again in the evening, luckily, I’ve discovered 3 different routes to choose from.

THE FAST ROUTE

A duel carriageway offering minimal hassle, the ability to safely overtake slow trucks and never too much traffic until you hit the edge of the city. The 9-3 likes this route, it literally glides over the smooth surfaces, engine noise is exceptionally low and the diesel engine just seems to whisper its presence. Cabin noise levels are also generally refined, although I have noticed the occasional whistle at higher speeds when the winds are gusting, but never more.

I never fail to be impressed with the mid range power on offer with this car, the twin turbos all but eliminate turbo lag, and the Hirsch upgrade has given it a real punch. In most diesel engined cars i’ve driven recently, you find that towards the top of the rev range the pull dies off pretty sharply, but in the SAAB this just doesn’t seem to happen.

This will only excite certain people, but the sound the Hirsch duel exhaust makes under heavy accelerating, is divine; not something normally associated with a four cylinder diesel.

For long distances and simple motorway driving, the SAAB 9-3 offers exceptional comfort and relaxed refinement.

THE SLOW (BUT FAST) ROUTE

Once out of the city, I hit winding country roads pretty quickly, and although the surfaces aren’t as smooth, they’re so much more fun. Drop gears, accelerate and feel the sheer power of the 9-3 kick in (there’s that SAAB smile again). Corners come extremely quickly, and are an absolute joy with the Hirsch sport springs, 18″ alloys and Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, the car feels more like a Mini than a larger saloon, it just sticks to the bends.

Being Pheasant country, the upgraded Hirsch brakes are an essential, the SAAB seems to have unlimited stopping power when called upon, coming to a swift standstill to allow the Pheasant safe passage as it slowly crosses the road with not a care in the world.

I have noticed the odd soft rattle from the interior which i’d much prefer not to be there, but with how much pleasure this car provides, it’s a seriously small price to pay.

Considering how good this car is on motorways, it’s an absolute joy to drive on country roads too, this makes the SAAB 9-3 a great all rounder. You could say it has a split personality.

THE SLOW, SLOW ROUTE

Not much to say about this route, except that it offers by far the most picturesque drive home – sink into the soft, soft SAAB leather seats, pop on some Cinematic Orchestra and I’m in heaven, any pressures of work quickly drift away. If I fancy, I can stop and take a few photos against stunning backdrops, and having such a gorgeous car makes this an enjoyable treat when time allows.

Bring on many more journeys!

In possession of, or maybe possessed by a SAAB 9-5 Aero

It seems by upgrading my 9-3’s suspension to Hirsch, the bearing cage has been disturbed, and is now in need of a replacement. Not fully expected on a 2011 car with less than 5,000 miles, but, on the other hand, a new car should’t have had quite as much messing around with it.

As ever, my SAAB dealer; Bond Street SAAB have been absolutely amazing, my car was taken in yestarday, a replacement part is on the way, and hopefully, i’ll have the mighty 9-3 back by the weekend.

In the meantime, I get to drive a 2011 SAAB 9-5 TTiD 4 Aero, white with black roof, full panoramic sunroof, and a very nice black sport leather interior, cool.

The first thing that really grabs me is the sheer presence it has, this is one very stylish car, the exterior oozes SAAB, and everything just flows beautifully. Feel good factor is extremely high, and having driven numerous BMW 5 series, this really does give you more of a smile, it also seems to attract more than a few stares from onlookers.

Having a direct comparison with my new 9-3, the TTiD engine in Aero guise seems to cope with the increased weight of the 9-5 very well, the turbo boost is there in buckets, and pulls well, cabin noise levels are more subdued than the 9-3 – it feels refined and exceptionally well put together. All in all, this is another SAAB i’d own any day, and to be honest, the only reason I didn’t, was that the CO2 levels are higher than those of the 9-3 (in the UK, this is important for tax reasons).

I couldn’t resist taking a few photos, and this morning offered the perfect opportunity; rain, dark skies, and a disused runway – perfect.

Good news too – I also asked Bond Street SAAB how sales were for new cars at the moment; they have 30 new cars destined for UK roads in September. Come on SAAB, with cars like my 9-3 and this 9-5, who could resist loving them?.

SAAB vs. The Family Day Out

One of finest and most original country estates in the UK, Calke Abbey was the destination for a family day out, lunch, culture and a great 100 mile round trip – perfect.

25 miles of winding cross country roads, 25 miles of motorway either way; a great opportunity to enjoy the SAAB 9-3 TTiD and also to write the first ‘test drive’ review.

The people of SAAB have really done an amazing job when it comes to disguising the diesel heart of this car; smooth, economical, powerful and class leading refinement.

The Hirsch exhaust with dual tail pipes has helped give it more purposeful acceleration and a pleasing sound, both adding to the driving enjoyment, whilst the 200hp Hirschupgrade seems to have boosted the performance way beyond the figures quoted, providing a superbly smooth turbo boost from 1500 right through to 5000 rpm. Over the first few weeks of owning the car, I’ve quickly become reliant on the seemingly endless serge of power when needed, especially whilst overtaking. Of course, this isn’t unique to the 9-3, every SAAB I have owned has also provided this level of overtaking confidence.

The SAAB has short and very precise gear changes with a smooth clutch which has made changing back to a manual from an automatic car highly enjoyable. On the motorway, 6th gear gives you plenty of power when required, even from as low as 1500 rpm, and settles into a refined cruiser. Flick on the cruise control, and you could sit there all day. The roads leading to Calke Abbey are perfect for pushing the SAAB a little more, and it really does begin to involve you; corners are a pleasure with little roll thanks to the Hirsch springs, whilst the larger wheels and tyres give you a very confident grip. The SAAB gives just enough feeling through to the steering wheel, with very slight understeer, whilst  the Hirsch brake upgrade is quite possibly the best money I’ve ever spent – no other car I’ve driven has come close for response or power.

I’m loving the quality and comfort of the interior, the soft leather seats offer superb support and position (although the bolsters are extremely soft, and will crush easily, so will require care so that they remain in good condition). The only other continuing issue I have, is the rather irritating rattle, now traced to the roof lining, so I’ll call the SAAB dealer shortly to see if this can be rectified.

With the journey over and enjoyed by all, I took a few moments to take some photos. The SAAB most definitely suited the location – reflecting its elegance, style and exclusivity perfectly.

In conclusion, the SAAB is the perfect car for a family day out, ample room for everything and anything you’d need to keep everyone happy for a long drive.

No more “Are we there yet”.

Brand new SAAB 9-3 Griffin spotted in town

As I was walking through my home town today, an extremely pleasant sight greeted me; a brand new 9-3 Griffin TTiD saloon, and in exactly the same colour as mine; Carbon Grey metallic.

I’ll have to see if I can get to know its proud owner and compare notes sometime soon.

I managed to snap a few photos on my phone, and let’s hope SAAB can get a lot more of these out on the streets for everyone to see; the more admiring glances, the better, and this one looked great.