ⓘ Saab 9000

Saab 9000

ⓘ Saab 9000

The Saab 9000 is an automobile produced by the Swedish company Saab from 1984 to 1998. Representing the companys foray into the executive car scene, it was developed as a result of the successes of the turbocharged 99 and 900 models. The 9000 remained in production until it was replaced by the Saab 9-5 in late 1997, although some final cars were produced into 1998.

Saab designed the 9000 as part of the Type Four platform in conjunction with the Italian automaker Fiat Automobiles. Fiat retailed similar derivative versions as the more basic Fiat Croma, the luxury-themed Lancia Thema, and the sports-oriented Alfa Romeo 164. Unlike the 164, which shares only the chassis, the Croma and Thema are outwardly similar to the 9000. As such, much of the bodywork appeared interchangeable between the 9000, Croma and Thema; for example, the doors. However, because Saab fitted heavier side impact protection they will not fit. Also the front of the Saab is radically different from the Italian siblings due to the much improved crash protection. Only seven parts are actually interchangeable. The 9000s body was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and Saab designer Bjorn Envall.

Despite being shorter overall than the 900, the 9000 had a longer wheelbase and greater interior space, and was the first Saab vehicle imported to the United States to be classed as a "large car" by the EPA.


1. History

The 9000 was launched to the motoring press at a conference at Kolmården Game Park on 24 May 1984. This original model was a five-door liftback, sharing much of its appearance and bodywork with the Type Four platform relatives - the Fiat Croma and Lancia Thema. Drag resistance for the original model is C d 0.34, very competitive for the time. Later in 1987 for model year 1988, Saab released a sedan variant of the 9000 known as the CD. This was followed by the 1991 release of a partially redesigned five-door liftback for the 1992 model year, known as the CS. At the release of the CS, the original liftback variant was retrospectively designated CC to differentiate it from the newer version, which it continued to sell alongside in some markets as an entry-level model.

The Saab 9000 was awarded Best Prestige Car 1985 by the French magazine L’Action Automobile.

With the introduction of the CD in very late 1987, Saab took the opportunity to re-style the front-end for the sedan. This involved smoothing the edges of the headlamps and grille, and sloping the front outwards, marking a departure from the more upright front styling of the 1984 original. From late 1990, the CC liftback received this same front-end facelift. A second facelift arrived in 1991 with the launch of the CS liftback. Fitted with a much narrower front profile, this facelift made its way to the CD sedan in 1994, albeit, with clear as opposed to the amber front turn signals fitted to the CS. The CS was in turn facelifted in circa 1995 gaining these clear lenses that had earlier debuted on the sedan CD. Therefore, while each body variant received one facelift, they were all applied at different times.

Unlike the 900, the 9000 kept the ignition switch in the more conventional steering column position rather than between the front seats. The inspiration for the seats was taken by Bjorn Envall from The Muppet Shows Pigs in Space, a sketch by the late puppeteer Jim Henson.

Saab Direct Ignition was fitted to the 9000 CD in 1988 on some models and expanded to all turbocharged 9000s in 1990. As early as 1989, the 9000 was equipped with the larger B234 2.3-litre engine, providing 150 PS 110 kW in the normally aspirated engine. From late 1990, the B234 became available with a turbocharger, producing 200 PS 147 kW.

In 1993, the Aero was introduced, and was the most powerful Saab to date upon its introduction. The Aero was powered by a 225 PS 165 kW version of Saabs 2.3-litre B234 engine, with more power courtesy of a larger Mitsubishi TD04 turbocharger. Automatic transmission-equipped Aeros were limited to 200 PS 147 kW and kept the regular turbocharged models Garrett AiResearch T25 turbocharger. Aeros were equipped with paint-matched body kit and spoiler, eight-way Recaro-designed heated sports seats, a sport suspension, and 16-inch Super Aero wheels. The Aeros in-gear acceleration was strongly emphasised; the Aero was capable of accelerating from 80 to 121 km/h 50 to 75 mph faster than a Porsche Carrera 4 or a Ferrari Testarossa. The Aero was discontinued after 1997.

An optional trip computer, the SCC, was introduced for the 1993 model year, and provided mileage, speed warning, and alarm functions. A new turbocharger management system, Trionic 5, was equipped from the 1993 model year onwards. The Trionic system used resistor spark plugs to detect for engine knock in place of the knock sensors incorporated into the engine block in the previous APC system.

From 1988, all 9000 variants were equipped with a Saab Information Display SID which showed fuel consumption, distance to an empty fuel tank, alternator output voltage, outside temperature, and lowest battery voltage during vehicle start. If the outside temperature fell to −3 to 3 °C 27 to 37 °F, the temperature display is automatically selected to warn of possible "black ice" road conditions. A separate pictogram monitored door and hatch opening and exterior light bulb condition. 1988 also marked the introduction of pyrotechnic seat belt tensioners for the front seats.

In the United Kingdom, a limited run of 9000 Carlsson models were produced, with a paint-matched airflow body kit, spoiler, and specially tuned turbocharged engine producing 160 kW 220 hp with a manual transmission or 150 kW 200 hp with the automatic. A number of the Carlsson editions fitted with the B202 turbocharged engine were sold into the Australian market.

A limited edition Anniversary model was introduced to mark Saabs 50th anniversary, featuring leather seats embossed with the classic, aircraft-inspired Saab logo and a colour-keyed body kit.

Only 1.400 9000s were produced for the 1998 model year, and of these only 400 were exported to the United States. In total, 503.087 Saab 9000s were manufactured.


1.1. History 9000 CC liftback

Originally known simply as the 9000, the original liftback variant was later given the CC identifier, standing for "combi coupe", to differentiate it from the CD sedan and CS liftback. While originally equipped with an upright front design, this was replaced by the sloped version in mid-1990 - the design that had earlier debuted on the 9000 CD sedan in 1987.

The original 1984 model was powered by a water-cooled, turbocharged, double overhead camshaft, 16-valve inline-four engine, providing 175 PS 129 kW. Earlier on in the development, the PRV engine had also been considered. Both a five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions were available. Later in 1984, a normally aspirated engine was introduced in the 9000 and 9000 S models, producing 130 PS 96 kW.


1.2. History 9000 CD sedan

The CD was the four-door sedan body style with a slightly more aerodynamic nose, and was originally available only with the turbocharged engine. At the Birmingham Motor Show in September 1988, Saab premiered the non-turbo model. In late 1989, the CD range in most of the world was expanded downward with the naturally aspirated 2.0-litre inline-four. This change did not happen until late in the 1990 model year for the US market, when Saab introduced the 150 hp 112 kW 2.3-litre B234 normally aspirated engine.

The limited edition 9000 CD Griffin was available in 1991 for the 1992 model year in the United States and was highly appointed with luxury features including all available electric options, special eucalyptus green paint, a separate rear-seat air conditioning system, walnut trim and rear window blinds.

When Saab released the redesigned liftback model, designated CS in 1991, it debuted a slimmer front-end design characterised by a much smaller thinner grille and headlamps. As part of a 1994 facelift, Saab grafted this slimmer frontal styling to the CD as well. At the same time, the tail-lamps were refreshed, with extensions to either side of the license plate alcove and white turn signal lenses replacing the previous models amber rear turn signals. The sedan ended production in 1997.


1.3. History 9000 CS liftback

Saab presented an updated version of the liftback body variant in 1991 for the 1992 model year with the CS. This replaced the CC. Featuring a lowered front fascia with new headlights, grille and a substantially redesigned rear-end. Both the CS and better-equipped CSE editions were available with a 2.3-litre inline-four - either turbocharged or in normally aspirated tune. The CS Turbo was equipped with a low-pressure turbocharger setup producing 170 PS 125 kW, while the CSE Turbo sported a full-pressure turbocharger with 200 PS 147 kW. Both systems used the same Garrett T25 turbocharger with a base boost pressure of 0.4 bar 6 psi but the full pressure turbo is equipped with a boost control valve that is manipulated by the ECU. This allows the boost pressure to be increased as the ECU sees fit. Maximum stock boost on a full pressure turbo varies from 0.7 to 1.02 bar 10 to 15 psi depending on the year and transmission.

In European markets, a smaller 2.0-litre engine was offered in normally aspirated form 97 kW 130 hp, light-pressure turbo 150 PS 110 kW or full-pressure turbo 175 PS 129 kW. The CDE model was offered initially with only the 149 kW 200 hp turbocharged engine, and later the 3.0-litre V6.

In 1995, a 3.0-litre B308 V6 engine with 210 PS 154 kW was introduced as standard for the CDE sedan and optional for the CSE liftback. The V6 was discontinued in the United States after one year along with the CDE model, but continued on in Europe until 1997. In some European markets, a high-spec CDE Griffin model was offered with numerous luxury appointments, such as an optional second air conditioning unit in the boot for the rear occupants. After the 1995 model year, naturally aspirated four-cylinder engines were discontinued in the United States. The CS model ended production in 1998.


1.4. History Convertible prototype

A convertible version was constructed by Finnish Valmet, the prototype version is currently on display at the Uusikaupunki car museum near the Valmet factory. Other experiments included fitting of the Yamaha developed V6 engine most famously fitted to the Ford Taurus SHO. This was vetoed by Saab-Scania, Saabs owner at the time, was the fitting of a VM Motori diesel engine which had been executed with the aim of increasing Saabs sales in central and southern Europe. A station wagon was never truly under consideration due to the expenses involved, not in the least out of concern for the often tiny Saab importers who were thereby saved the trouble of having to keep a larger inventory.


1.5. History Prometheus prototype

In 1993, Saab experimented with steer-by-wire technology as part of the pan-European programme "Prometheus" Programme for European Traffic with Highest Efficiency and Unprecedented Safety. Their contribution to the programme consisted of a modified 9000 with the steering wheel replaced with a center-mounted joystick. This setup removed the risk of body and facial injury in the event of an accident. It also provided easier and cheaper airbag installation, as well as improved instrument panel visibility. This prototype was tested by Jeremy Clarkson in an episode of Top Gear ; the segment was revisited in Series 18, Episode 5 of the current Top Gear series, where Clarkson and James May paid tribute to the fallen automotive marque.


1.6. History MPV prototype

At a visit to the American Sunroof Company, who helped design the Saab 900 convertible, the engineers spotted the building of a minivan based on the Chryslers K-car later launched as Chrysler Voyager. Gunnar Larsson thought it was a neat idea and when he came home he asked the head of bodyworks Dick Ohlsson if they could do something like that based on the Saab 9000. "No problem", was the reply and a small team started working on it in secret. They used the 9000 platform but lengthened and with higher roof and room for seven persons even if the rear seat was mostly suitable for children. The full-scale model was finished in May 1985 two months after the first idea.


2. Engines

The Saab 9000 was available with a big variety of naturally-aspirated and turbocharged engines. The range consisted mostly of the Saab 2.0 and 2.3 litre engines, but there was also the 3.0 V6 made by Isuzu.