Saab Technology

The Unique Saab Sensonic Model: A Special Car with a Manual Transmission, but Without a Clutch Pedal

"Saab Sensonic: A Unique Manual Transmission Experience without a Clutch Pedal

Saab Sensonic

In the realm of manual transmissions, there exist various options between a traditional manual and a full-fledged automatic gearbox. One such peculiar innovation was introduced by Saab – the Sensonic transmission.

Unlike any other transmission, it offered a manual gearbox experience without the need for a clutch pedal. This article explores the unique features of the Saab Sensonic model, which was once available on the market.

Understanding the Saab Sensonic:

The Saab 900 Sensonic is often described as a car without a clutch, which is not entirely accurate. The clutch pedal is absent, but the car automatically operates the clutch as soon as the gear lever is moved. The concept aimed to combine the best of both worlds: the pleasure of driving a manual transmission without the constant clutch engagement required in traffic.

Saab Sensonic

Availability and Pricing

Currently, there are two Saab 900 models equipped with the Sensonic transmission available for sale in the Netherlands. Surprisingly, they are quite affordable options. The first one has covered 291,000 kilometers and is priced at 3,950 euros. The second Saab 900, a Talladega edition with 185 horsepower, has 213,000 kilometers on the odometer and carries a price tag of 6,750 euros.

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Adapting to the Sensonic Experience

According to Saab Specials, the seller of these vehicles, driving a Saab with Sensonic requires some getting used to. It is recommended to consider this car as a unique addition to your collection. The Sensonic transmission represents an interesting chapter in the rich history of the now-defunct Saab brand and would pair well with a Saab 9-5ng Sportcombi or a Saab 9-2X.

Saab Sensonic and Mixed Reception

In an episode of Top Gear titled “The Worst Car In the History Of The World,” the Sensonic transmission was featured, and it garnered mixed reviews. The main issue, as expected, revolves around the absence of a clutch pedal. Maneuvering during parking becomes challenging since there is a slight delay between releasing the brake and the engagement of the clutch. This delay becomes particularly noticeable when attempting to park on an incline.

See video by Top Gear below:

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Multiple Versions of Sensonic

The company Fichtel & Sachs introduced a similar transmission called the Saxomat in the 1950s. It was available in various cars, including the Saab 93, Fiat 1800, Lancia Flaminia, and Opel Rekord. However, this technology never gained significant popularity. Although the Saab 900 experienced a brief resurgence of the Sensonic system in the 1990s, it has become exceedingly rare in modern vehicles.

A Comparison to Quickshifters

In the realm of motorcycles, there is a similar concept known as a quickshifter. With a quickshifter, it is possible to shift gears without using the clutch. However, the mechanism differs slightly: the quickshifter interrupts the ignition momentarily, relieving the drivetrain to enable smooth gear changes. It is worth noting that theoretically, it is possible to shift without the clutch in any manual transmission car, but this should be done at one’s own risk.

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Unique and quirky innovation

The Saab Sensonic transmission represents a unique and quirky innovation in the world of manual transmissions. While it lacks a clutch pedal, the system automatically operates the clutch when the gear lever is moved. Although it received mixed reviews due to its peculiarities, the Saab Sensonic remains an interesting and affordable choice for collectors or those seeking a distinctive driving experience.

Konstantin Jokić
an automotive journalist and dedicated Saab enthusiast hailing from Novi Sad, Serbia, is a valuable contributor to With a wealth of experience in the automotive industry and a strong affinity for Saab cars, Konstantin brings a unique perspective to the blog's content. His in-depth knowledge, engaging writing style, and passion for Saab automobiles enrich the platform, catering to both local and global Saab enthusiasts. Through his articles and insights, Konstantin strengthens the sense of community among Saab lovers and helps elevate as a trusted source for Saab-related information.


  • A disaster especially if you have active driving style and tune your car.

    Used to own that kinda car from 1999 – 2018.
    Had constant issues with it.
    After the car was tuned to stage 3 it would’ve needed stiffer clutch. If you would’ve replaced the original clutch with the clutch of Viggen the system would’ve not worked.

    Saab sold a conversion kit with the clutch pedal (I think I still have the installation instructions somewhere). So after suffering lots of issues the car was converted to manual.

    Wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. The only cool thing was that it allowed to shift gears with 20% throttle.

  • I own a Saab 900 with Sensonic since more than 20 years and have driven more than 100.000 km with. I have always been very satisfied with it, never had problems even when towing a 1.500 kg caravan in the mountains. Of course it has peculiarities and you to understand and respect the limitations, but then it works really fine. I still like it very much.

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