Back in 2017, Jalopnik got hold of a Viggen convertible for one of their Not New Reviews, I've only just come across this and it's a great article, ok so a few obvious non Saab statements, but well written and some superb photos.
To me, it just highlights what a fantastic car the original generation 9-3s are, and why to this day, they remain just so unique. It’s a long review so i’ll feature a few highlights here, but it’s well worth popping over to Jalopnik to read the entire article.
Out of all the quintessentially weird cars that wore the Saab badge, this one has to be among the most eccentric. I took one out for a drive, a convertible one too, which technically makes it more of a hot coupe than a hot hatch. Plenty of Saabs came after this one, but this one was one of the last true great weird examples from the brand.
All that factory-tuned 20 psi of boost (that’s a lot for a factory setup) went straight to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox. Other mechanical modifications over a standard turbocharged 9-3 included a higher capacity intercooler, a performance-tuned ECU, a higher flowing exhaust system, a performance clutch and pressure plate, stiffened and lowered suspension components as well as reinforced CV joints and driveshafts.
Back in the day, Saab claimed a 0-60 acceleration time of roughly 6.5 seconds. That’s about the same as some current front-wheel-drive hot hatchbacks like the Ford Focus ST. But unlike the Ford, the Saab came with its own training program video hosted by a professional jet fighter pilot.
Fundamentally, what makes this Viggen so special is that during Saab’s 67-year run of building quirky and unusual aircraft-derived automobiles, the Viggen stands out today as one of the fastest production Saabs ever built.
Getting inside a Saab reminded me how absolutely different these cars were from anything else in the late nineties and early 2000’s. The dashboard and windshield are as flat as a plank of wood, and the dash is high, filled with buttons and a large air vent, presumably to look like an airplane cockpit.
It kind of works? Oh, and the radio has a weather band. A weather band!
Nothing really happens below 4,000 RPM. That’s when the insane boost pressure shoves you hard into the immensely comfortable seats and emits cool jet-like air swirl sounds along the way - pssssttttssshh - boost gauge all lit up and everything, quickly running out of puff at around 6,000 RPM.
It’s an unusual way to put down power, but it definitely works.
Maybe someday Saabs will become so sought after that the brand will mysteriously spawn back to life. And what a glorious day that would be.
Jalopnik | The Saab 93 Viggen was the last great true Saab