New Car Review
1994 SAAB 900 SE - V6
by: BILL RUSS
SEE ALSO:Saab Buyer's Guide
Saabs have always enjoyed distinctive styling, innovative engineering and a loyal following. Major changes are not made very often, but continuous improvement is part of the Saab philosophy. The 900 is all new for 1994, and it marks several "firsts" for this unique Swedish organization.
The 1994 Saab 900 marks its first major design change in 15 years, the first use of a V6 engine and the first model manufactured under Saab's partnership with General Motors of Europe.
One of the traditional features of the 900 has been the placement of its ignition key on the floor adjacent to the transmission lever In designing the new model a "key" decision had to be made. In keeping with its tradition it remains where it has always been - next to the shift lever.
The SAAB/GM of Europe agreement brings some Opel components into the 900 package. A 2.5 liter V6 which has been configured to Saab specifications, as well as some platform components. But the overall styling and finished product is still very definitely Saab.
APPEARANCE: The 900 SE retains the clean aerodynamic look that is characteristically Saab from its familiar grille and wraparound headlights to its large rear hatch fitted with a wiper and defogger. V6 performance is hinted at by the Pirelli P4000 V-rated tires, while practicality is pointed out by wipers for the headlights, plastic-coated rocker panels, wide side rub strips, and mud flaps under the middle of the car not only to deflect mud and debris from vital parts underneath, but also to improve air flow.
COMFORT: Practicality and spaciousness have long been Saab hallmarks. This sizable interior offers plenty leg and head room in the cabin, plus a very large and flat low lift-over trunk. The rear seats fold down and forward for additional cargo area, and for safer winter driving the windshield and each side window has defogger vents. The crisp-sounding six-speaker AM\FM\cassette sound system has provisions for a remote CD player, while the more-than-adequate climate control system features separate rear seat ducting. In keeping with its cold weather legacy heated front seats are available, and other options are leather seating, as well as a tilt-and-slide glass sunroof. The front shoulder harness' are height-adjustable, plus there's recessed holder for each belt latch. To avoid distraction during night driving the instrument panel features a "Black Panel" switch which only lights the speedometer. Normally all instruments are clearly visible. Power door locks, seats, mirrors and windows, plus a message center and trip computer round out the comfort details in this new Saab.
ROADABILITY: This sturdy Saab 900 is engineered to be a drivers car. With its front wheel drive, and near-neutral steering, it has the go- anywhere, anytime, in any-weather type of handling that the earlier 900's were known for. The Pirelli P4000 V-rated tires hold the road well and quietly, and for safe stopping there's four wheel disc brakes with ABS. A slightly longer wheelbase and increased body rigidity, plus new independent suspension contribute to the 900's firm, but sporty and predictable ride qualities. Driving comfort is enhanced by the telescoping steering wheel and the newly designed supportive front bucket seats. Wind and road noise are nil, and visibility is excellent.
PERFORMANCE: Saab's first V6 powerplant is produced by General Motors in England and is both optional ($ 2295) and desirable. With four cams, four-valves-per-cylinder, and multiport fuel injection, this new engine develops 170 spritely horsepower. It torque output is well- suited for the smooth and quick-shifting electronically controlled four- speed automatic transmission. As a further hint of its all-weather capability the engine is equipped with traction control, and the transmission has a special "winter" setting that allows the 900 to start out in second gear to avoid slipping on wet or icy surfaces. It also features sport and normal setting for fair weather driving conditions.
CONCLUSION: In this ever-widening world of international automotive production both Saab and GM of Europe have benefitted by their joint agreement. Saab has a new GM V6 engine, and GM now has access to Saab's new four-cylinder engine production facilities. Many other benefits will follow, but with its well-deserved reputation in the areas of safety, engineering, and engine and emissions management Saab will unquestionably remain Saab, and this new 900 is a prime example.
PRICE AS TESTED: $ 27,635 with leather upholstery, automatic transmission and sunroof
BASE PRICE: $ 23,825 including V6 engine.
1994 SAAB 900 SE - V6
Base Price $ 23,825 Price As Tested $ 27,635 Engine Type V-6, dohc - 24v, mpfi Engine Size 2.5 liter/152 cid Horsepower 170 @ 5000 Torque (ft/lbs) 167 @ 4200 Wheelbase/Length 102"/183" Transmission four-speed auto w/od Curb Weight 3100 Pounds per Horsepower 18 Fuel Capacity 18 Fuel Requirement Unleaded regular - premium (87-93 oct) Tires Pirelli P4000R P195/60VR 15 Brakes anti-lock standard disc/disc Drive Train front engine/front drive PERFORMANCE EPA Economy - miles per gallon, city/highway/observed 19/25/21.3 0 to 60 mph 8.7 sec 1/4 mi (E.T.) 16.6 sec Coefficient of Drag (Cd) .32