'Jätta bra!': It's Swedish for power plus grip

With its new four-wheel drive Turbo X, Saab has overcome its road-holding problems and beaten the Germans at their own game

Early turbocharged Saabs had a bad rep. A combination of catch-you-with-your-knickers-down turbo power delivery and front wheels that had about the same level of grip as Walter Mitty had on reality made driving one feel like you were trying to tame Bucephalus*. It was like wrestling with an angry stoat. Or being jogged by your friends while writing something at school. Or ... you know, all wriggly.

These days, though, Saabs – some of them, anyway – come with four-wheel drive, and one, the new Turbo X (£32,495), also comes with electronic LSD. Far from being, as you might suspect, something prescribed by Jimi Hendrix's chemist, eLSD is an active limited slip differential. Together with an intelligent four-wheel drive system, it helps makes the X, or Malcolm as it's known to its friends, feel unbelievably planted. There is no wheel spin, no stomach-churning slide on roundabouts and not a smidgen of torque steer (the car spod's term for the stoat-wrestling I tried to describe earlier). In the dry, at least, there is nothing you can do to make this car lose its grip. In fact, I found that the muscles in my sides cried submission way before the tyres came remotely close to losing adhesion, although that probably says as much about my physical decrepitude as the car.

Peter Johansson from Haldex, the company that developed the system, tried to explain it to me but lost me shortly after, "You know how a normal differential works ..." (Don't worry; the press information is more helpful: "The eLSD, located alongside the RDM, operates on the same principle as the larger TTD.") Another bit of electronics, the Power Take Off Unit, is clearly meant to evoke Saab's aeronautical history, and works well. An aggressive standing start felt like being in one of those pull-back-and-go toy cars – there was no spooling-up of power, no scrabbling for grip, just point, press and go. Jätta bra! as they say in Sweden.

As German manufacturers continue to play at their absurd horsepower one-upmanship, with engine outputs routinely topping 500bhp, the Swedes make do with a mere 280bhp. In truth, it is all you will ever really need – the thing catapults to 60mph in 5.4 seconds, for heaven's sake. Anything else is just a licence loser these days.

The only trouble is that the Turbo's performance writes cheques the interior quality can't cash. Most of it is pure, sub-£20k 9-3, which means there are some brittle, cheap plastics, lightweight stalks and coarse-grained leather of the kind found in mid-range US saloons. Oh, and there is something else. Every time you start up, a sign flashes up on the instrument display saying "Ready for Take-off". Oh deary me.

Outside, I pulled another face at the brash, optional 19in "titanium effect" wheels, the Buck Rogers-style exhaust pipes and the great chinny front spoiler. On a Saab, it's all somehow mildly unsettling – as if Huw Edwards had got piercings and a tattoo.

But that's nit-pickery. They aim to sell 500 Turbo Xs in the UK. Do I think it will find that many buyers? Course you can, Malcolm.



* Buce-phalus was the name of Alexander the Great's horse, by the way. And before you ask – yes, I did have to go and look it up.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Sales and Marketing Executive

    £19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

    Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

    £40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent