On the road – Saab 9000 Aero

I noted with some interest that British journo and Saab fan, Graeme Lambert, has just taken a Saab 9000 Aero as a long-term test vehicle. Nice move! Being a fan of practical classics, I’m looking forward to reading his thoughts.

A few weeks ago, I caught up with a friend of mine in Victoria – a 9000 Aero owner named Nathan. In fact, Nathan was the guy who provided my first ever Saab driving experience in his 1986 Saab 9000 Turbo. That car’s gone now, but his current 9000 Aero is an absolute cracker of a car and while I was visiting, we took it out for a spin (of course!).

I should preface this by saying that despite having spent plenty of time in different Saabs, and countless hours in the Saab 9000 (we’ve had two CS’s over the last 7 years or so), I’ve never spent much time in the Saab 9000 Aero. In fact, the only time I can recall is a short ride through Melbourne’s city streets in a pristine automatic model (thanks, Dan!).

So aside from all the other reasons I enjoyed catching up with Nathan, the chance to spend some quality time in the Saab that former designer chief Bjorn Envall said was Saab’s best ever vehicle was one I was very excited about.

I’m pleased to say it was a fair bit of a revelation, too.

As mentioned, I’m quite accustomed with the Saab 9000. I’ve been driving our CS models for years now and I’ve loved them both. They eat up highway miles rapaciously, they’re comfortable, can swallow a whale and have proved to be very reliable. The CS is not a sporting car, though. Not by a long shot. Whilst it will move reasonably quickly when provoked, it’s more inclined to wallow around a corner rather than turn through it. Judge the weight transfer correctly and it can be a fun car to drive, but it always feels like the big, comfortable, floaty car that is.

As I learned a few weeks ago, the Aero – especially Nathan’s Aero – is a completely different beast.

I don’t know how much you’ll be able to tell from the video, below, but this car is blazingly quick. I imagine the regular Aero is quick, too, but this one is brutal. I spent quite a bit of time being pushed back into the most comfortable seats ever to feature in a motor car.

What amazed me more than the speed, though, was how utterly stable it was through the corners. Floaty, comfy 9000 CS’s – be gone! This Aero was hunkered down; it actually felt like it was crouching and shifting it’s weight like one of those sidecar racers – very deliberate and precise. Nothing we threw at this car could get it out of shape. We had sections of road (not in the video) that were in very poor condition due to roadworks and the car simply continued to inspire confidence the whole time.

Pure Saab? Not with all those Abbott bits bolted on. But they’re bolted on to what is undoubtedly a superb base. The 9000 Aero is an outstanding vehicle and one that I look forward to spending a bit more time in (like this Easter weekend, for example!).

And for those who were wondering about the output of Nathan’s car – it hasn’t been on a dyno for quite a while, but he says it’s currently making upwards of 340hp and well over 500Nm of torque. It really is super-quick and handles like a much smaller car – a testament to some very committed ownership and a company’s expertise.

Pardon the rattly camera casing and the idle chatter. Just enjoy the car…..

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  1. My Absolute favorite Saab.

    Saab went from wrom to… Kadablawrooom!!! with the CS Aero. Sorry 9-5 and 9-3 Aero owners.. Theres nothing like a CS Aero. Yeah I know… gearbox crunch.

    Three reasons I just Have to own one:
    *Best seats ever.
    *Fifth gear, floor it and the car just… launch
    *In red the car is sooo “sexy”… oops 🙂

    Problem im Sweden is roadsalt and tuningcrazy youngsters. There are not many of them in good Original condition.

    Cheers/Tom (Maybe I ought to change my alias to “Sexy Aero”?… Naah 🙂 )

  2. Love the sound of the engine and the spool up of the turbo! A manual 9000 Aero….what fun!

  3. GREAT.

    Still got 2 x 9k’s.
    One is in bits, a full turbo manual Anni in Scarabe green.

    The other [one of my daily drives], a 9K Anni in silver, one of the last one’s made with Aero wheel & I could not resist the Aero interior swap, so comfy is not the word.
    This one has Aero factory fit suspension & a stage 3 maptun upgrade with Auto box.

    I just cannot find any other car I like driving as much, including my 3.5 Aero estate MY04 [Great car, but the 9k wins].

    1. Terry,

      I am also restoring a Scarabe Green 9000 Anni. Errr…you wouldn’t be dosposing of a green offside wing would you?

      Oh well, just thought i’d ask….


  4. Its not exactly a heavy traffic road but i jump every time these death wish lunatics meets another car! 🙂

  5. Great cars indeed, especially the aircraft-like ‘cockpit’. 2 info displays, black aviation-style buttons, lots of space for extra instrumentation, superior seats (with the aircraft logo in the Anniversary..), bullet-proof engine, etc..

    1. Funny you should mention the aircraft (Bomber) logo…my Anni (in the UK) has leather but no aircraft logo – I wonder if that was a US-only feature or something?


      1. I don’t thinks so Thorfie; the Anni I’m talking about is Dutch. There were quite a few of those in The Netherlands, although nowadays good Annies and Aeros are becoming increasily hard to find..

      2. Anni’s have 2 tone leather seats with the Saab aeroplane logo in the upper rear seat back, or should have in the UK too….

  6. i currently own a 1993 9000 aero it has 220,000 and still pulls hard…this is my favorite car i ever owned and i previously had a 2000 audi s4 and a 1987 toyota supra turbo..i love the look the feel to this day the aero still turns heads and the seats are truly the best seats ever put in a car in my opinion

  7. I had the opportunity to spend a week with a 9000 Aero in Colorado following the press intro to the 1994 Saab 900 there, back when I was publishing NINES. The experiences I had roaring around the Rocky Mountains in that machine, including a memorable climb up Pikes Peak, scarred me for life. I had to have one… someday.

    Last year that opportunity arrived when a friend sold me his dark green ’96 Aero. At 187K miles, the paint has a few scratches and the leather is a bit worn, but the comfort and fun remain. On the plus side is the cargo capacity. Sorry BMW, but the 9000 Aero is truly the ULTIMATE driving machine.

  8. A number of years ago, I drove a ’95 Aero daily – bought it out of the SCUSA technical training school when they retired it as a dissection object ca. 2002 with 20k on the clock. I ran the odometer up to around 50k and let it go.

    I’m currently driving (occasionally) a Cirrus White 1994 Aero with somewhat less than 60,000 miles from new. It’s tuned enough with some Abbott bits – ECU, exhaust, urethane front end bushes, yellow Koni inserts and rear shocks. It’s nice to have one around for the occasional blast in the back roads, or a very comfortable interstate ride. It’s not going anywhere.