1995 Saab 900SE Turbo Test: Handle with Care


From the April 1995 situation of Automobile and Driver.

Energy is available in two varieties. There’s regular energy—the stuff of hydroelectric dams and the Bud­weiser Clydesdales. Then there’s explo­sive energy—what you get from an atomic bomb or, say, Steven Seagal in the event you yank his ponytail.

The newest 900SE Turbo produces energy of the latter selection. Not like Saab’s mellow GM-designed V-6, the pressurized four-cylinder turbo engine is as unstable as Susan Powter at a KFC shareholder’s assembly. Thus, the 900SE Turbo requires an particularly attentive hand to profit from its appreciable efficiency.

The powder keg underneath the hood is, as in earlier 900 Turbos, a blown-and-inter­cooled 16-valve 2.0-liter 4. However there the similarities finish. The brand new engine is definitely a smaller-stroke model of the two.3-liter 4 that serves elsewhere within the 900 and 9000 lineups. It due to this fact advantages from that engine’s twin counterrotating stability shafts and Saab’s newest Trionic engine-management system. In contrast with the previous turbo, the brand new engine additionally fea­tures the next compression ratio (9.2:1 versus 8.5), elevated enhance strain, and reconfigured software program within the APC enhance­-control system. The result’s a 25-horse­energy improve, to 185 horsepower at 5500 rpm.

The results of that may be a sedan with Carl Lewis legs. The speedo needle flies previous 60 mph in simply 6.5 seconds and would not cease climbing till it hits 142 mph. (The V-6-powered 900SE, in distinction, runs to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds and tops out at 135 mph.) The turbo 4 revs with respectable smoothness, although not fairly as much as the V-6’s requirements, and pulls with none dropoffs to its 6000-rpm redline. The sound at full enhance is conspicuous and vig­orous—like an enormous steam-pressure espresso machine frothing up a ten-gallon latte.

1995 saab 900se turbo

JEFFREY G. RUSSELL|Automobile and Driver

There is a value to be paid, nevertheless, for the Turbo’s sprinting energy. Versus the versatile V-6, the turbo 4 calls for fixed levering of the usual, barely numb-feeling five-speed to remain inside the meat of the facility curve. The engine is rated for plenty of low-end torque: 195 pound-­ft at 2100 rpm, which feels like lots on paper. However in real-world driving, all of our testers complained that merely pulling away from stoplights is usually a ready sport. Fast begins require deliberate slip­ping of the clutch, or the engine bogs down. When that occurs, for a couple of mortifying heartbeats Geo Metros and Subaru Justys out of the blue appear to own the accelerative energy of a Corvette ZR-1. Then the Saab’s enhance comes up and—whoosh!—the Turbo redeems itself in a livid cost.

HIGHS: Strain-cooker energy, spacious cabin, zero-omissions gear listing.

In actual fact, considerate use of the clutch, shifter, and throttle are required even for relaxed begins. Famous one highway tester: “In lots of automobiles, I am going to slide away from near-stops in second gear. However in the event you attempt that within the Turbo, the enhance lag will develop you a beard.”

The enhance response is okay on the Inter­state, although. Tip into the throttle at freeway speeds, and the turbo bites immedi­ately. With out shifting down, you sense a satisfying surge of acceleration—because the automotive glides ahead effortlessly, it turns into patently clear simply how a lot horsepres­certain is amassed underfoot.

1995 saab 900se turbo

JEFFREY G. RUSSELL|Automobile and Driver

Befitting a automotive clearly supposed for drivers who take their motoring critically, the Turbo rides on a chassis that trades some experience consolation for dealing with management. In contrast with naturally aspirated 900s, the Turbo wears stiffer anti-roll bars entrance and rear, tauter fuel shocks, and bigger wheels and tires (205/50ZR-16 versus 195/60VR-15s).

Not surprisingly, the higher-grade trainers assist the Turbo vanquish its V-6 sibling on the take a look at monitor. Skidpad grip climbs from 0.77 g to 0.82, and 70-to-0-mph stops drop from 207 ft to 171. But whereas the Turbo definitely feels stiffer than the 900SE V-6 and clomps over pavement breaks, it retains the identical secure demeanor as its sister automotive. Energy right into a flip and the Turbo understeers resolutely, its tail remaining safely planted irrespective of the throttle setting or g-load. The Turbo’s solely notable histrionics happen if you’re attempt­ing to energy out of tight turns: an excessive amount of steering lock mixed with an immoder­ate proper foot will ship the within entrance tire whirling right into a noxious haze.

Lows: “The place’s the enhance?” energy supply. “There it’s!” energy supply.

The turbo engine is offered solely within the three-door and the convertible. The three­-door pictured and examined right here presents the motive force with the identical well designed inte­rior and cozy, upright seats because the five-door. The devices, controls, and cockpit trim have a neat, fashionable look: the cabin setting is as Swedish-clean­-and-sensible as an IKEA showroom. But acquainted touches—the between-seat igni­tion change, for instance—preserve an unmistakable Saab character.

Additionally carried over from the five-door is sufficient cabin room to move 5 adults or Marlon Brando. Doorways that open 9 inches wider than the five-door’s permit easy accessibility to the capacious rear seat. And that rear seat might be folded flat to provide the identical whopping 50 cubic ft of cargo room as within the five-door. There is a rear-­seat pass-through, too, so in the event you’re headed for, say, an anti-censorship rally, you’ll be able to poke your placard handles by the opening and hold the “Beavis and Butt­head for Congress!” indicators hidden within the trunk till you get previous the PC herd.

1995 saab 900se turbo

JEFFREY G. RUSSELL|Automobile and Driver

Along with the abundance of room, 900SE Turbo patrons can count on loads of options. Virtually every part is included as commonplace: anti-lock brakes, twin airbags, air-con, energy every part, a sunroof, and an AM/FM/cassette system. About the one merchandise not accessible on the Turbo is the V-6 automotive’s commonplace traction-control system. Which might simply spoil all that tire-smoking enjoyable anyway.

VERDICT: A dynamite sports activities sedan for many who take pleasure in dealing with explosives.

The 900SE Turbo lists for $29,460. That is roughly $3000 lower than the equiv­alently fast BMW 325is and about the identical because the much less swift but in addition much less heady V-6-powered 900SE five-door.

The Turbo would be the one chosen by the customer who performed with M80s as a child.

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1995 Saab 900SE Turbo
Car Kind: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 3-door hatchback


Base/As Examined: $29,460/$29,460

turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, iron block and aluminum head, port gasoline injection

Displacement: 121 in3, 1985 cm3

Energy: 185 hp @ 5500 rpm

Torque: 195 lb-ft @ 2100 rpm 

5-speed handbook


Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink

Brakes, F/R: 11.2-in vented disc/10.2-in disc

Tires: Michelin Pilot HX


Wheelbase: 102.4 in

Size: 182.6 in

Width: 67.4 in
Top: 56.5 in

Passenger Quantity, F/R: 50/41 ft3
Cargo Quantity: 24 ft3
Curb Weight: 3064 lb


60 mph: 6.5 sec

1/4-Mile: 15.3 sec @ 93 mph
100 mph: 17.8 sec
130 mph: 45.7 sec

Rolling Begin, 5–60 mph: 7.4 sec

Prime Gear, 30–50 mph: 12.8 sec

Prime Gear, 50–70 mph: 9.4 sec

Prime Velocity (drag ltd): 142 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 171 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.82 g 


Noticed: 25 mpg

Metropolis/Freeway: 21/28 mpg 



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