SAAB Concepts

The Biopower Beast

Saab 9-5 BioPower

At the beginning of 2006, interesting news appeared in the media, and than it was a little less than “news” that Saab will be using the 9-5 Biopower model as a concept at the Detroit Motor Show that year. However, many fans of Saab cars were then, in a some way, disappointed when they heard this news.

Ethanol E85 – Alternative Fuel

Sure, you have an engine that runs on Ethanol, but how about an engine with a management system that will let it run on Ethanol, gasoline, or any mix of the two with no ill effects at all?  Enter in Trionic 7, that is what Saab did then. Since SAAB has a reputation for eco-power, sustainable development and the other eco-buzzwords, it has astounded many Saab fans that Volvo have beaten them to a dual fuel car. You can’t blame GM, either, since Vauxhall/Opel offered the Vectra as a dual fuel car. All it was was a matter of time and SAAB come out with one better.

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Many of them thought it was a rather cynical move by General Motors – using a model available else where as a ‘concept’ model for a new market place. What wasn’t available at that time, were the details – because of this many were actually disappointed.

And it was these many distrustful people who were mistaken,  this ain’t no ordinary Biopower model they’re showing off here. The “regular” Biopower model – the one available at that time in Sweden and a little later it was available on the rest of the European markets, the one that won the Popular Science “Best of What’s New” award in 2005, the one that made it was initial 16 months sales target in just 4 months, the one that outsells all other ‘alternative fuel’ models in Europe combined already – that car was a baby compared to this “beast”.

That regular Biopower 9-5 features a 2.0 litre engine with a power boost from 150bhp up to 180 bhp and a raise in torque from 240Nm to 280Nm. A nice jump, but let’s take a quick peek at some numbers that would make Viggen look like a shy teenager in comparison.

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E85 fuel pump

This new ‘concept’ Biopower vehicle features a 2.3 litre HOT engine, same as Viggen, but with the Biopower setup it was capable of a whopping 310bhp (vs Viggens 250) and enough twist to suck the chrome off your towbar – an elephantine 440Nm!!!

The Viggen isn’t too shabby, isn’t but it’s only got 350Nm, so lets just say a ride in this new ‘concept’ 9-5 would be an experience to remember. How about a sub-6-second 0-100 km/h figure?

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Saab 9-5 BioPower – Green Car

At that time, not so long ago, this was a significant and high-quality ecological shift, so great that it intrigued many celebrities who are famous for their environmental protection. And one of those is certainly Richard Branson. Sir Richard’s switch to his Saab flex-fuel car, which runs on the eco-friendly and renewable fuel source bioethanol E85.

Richard Branson and his Saab 9-5 BioPower
Richard Branson and his Saab 9-5 BioPower

Here is what he said at the time about this direction in the automotive industry, when he took the keys of his new Saab, Sir Richard said: “I am convinced that biofuels are the way forward, both for the car and aviation industries, which is a vision we share with Saab. Now we need to extend that vision to others.  It’s high-time that flex-fuel cars, such as the Saab 9-5 BioPower, are given the same concessions in the UK as other green cars, like for example, exemption from London’s Congestion Charge.” 

Saab 310bhp 9-5 Aero BioPower Concept at Detroit Auto Show

Following the overwhelmingly successful launch of the Saab 9-5 2.0t BioPower flex fuel car in Sweden, Saab introduced in early 2006 a concept version of the Saab 9-5 Aero BioPower, capable of producing 310bhp and 440 Nm torque, at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

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This Saab 9-5 Powered by E85 bioethanol, a completely renewable and sustainable fuel, the 2.3-litre HOT engine of the 9-5 Aero Estate show car delivers almost 20% more power (310 bhp vs. 260 bhp) and 25% more torque (440 Nm/325 lb.ft vs. 350 Nm/258 lb.ft) than its regular petrol equivalent, proving that it is possible for drivers to enjoy the benefits of increased power and performance while having a greater regard for the environment.

Saab 9-5 BioPower Concept by Rinspeed

It is interesting that this powerful concept was additionally upgraded and improved by the famous tuner house Rinspeed. This special equipped and completely refurbished Saab model incorporated materials used by Rinspeed for its futuristic prototype “eXasis”, and utilizes fiberglass and aluminum in its construction.

Rinspeed Saab 9-5 BioPower Concept

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It was ordinary BioPower, power of this SportCombi concept was a 180hp engine that runs on E85 bioethanol, and if the clean fuel is not available you can simply fill up with petrol, or any mix of the two. But when running on bioethanol, you get more performance and at the same time you help to reduce fossil CO2 emissions by up to 80%. Its basic quality consisted of a modified interior and exterior, and the use of extremely light and high-quality materials.

Goran Aničić
the authorGoran Aničić
For over 10 years, Goran Aničić has been passionately focused on Saab automobiles and everything related to them. His initial encounter with Saab cars took place back in 2003 when the first Saab 9-3 and sedan version were introduced. At that moment, he was captivated by the car's Scandinavian design logic and top-notch engineering, and everything that followed stemmed from that first encounter. Later on, through his work at the editorial team of the Serbian automotive magazines "Autostart" and later "AutoBild," he had the opportunity to engage more closely with Saab vehicles. In 2008, he tested the latest Saab cars of that time, such as the Saab 9-3 TTiD Aero and Saab 9-3 Turbo X. In 2010, as the sole blogger from the region, he participated in the Saab 9-5ng presentation in Trollhättan, Sweden. Alongside journalists from around the world, he got a firsthand experience of the pinnacle of technological offerings from Saab at that time. Currently, Goran owns two Saabs: a 2008 Saab 9-3 Vector Sportcombi with a manual transmission, and a Saab 9-3 Aero Griffin Sport Sedan from the last generation, which rolled off the production line in Trollhättan in December 2011.

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