Have you already driven a pre-production car? Henrik Claesson's teachings still ring out in my ears. “Held together with scotch tape, made by hand, priceless”. Class! Well, prepared accordingly, we arrived at the Stallbacka on Sunday morning. A little over a year ago, in the summer of 2010, I was last at the Saab plant, at that time the employee parking spaces were full and one new Saab 9-5 rolled off the ramp after the next.
Now - an empty parking lot and ghostly silence. And somehow a little sadness and also melancholy. But that quickly vanished after we discovered our two Saab 9-5 sports suits and the Saab 9-4x in the parking lot as promised. As agreed with our German tour advertising.
Get the keys from the security guard and inspect the cars. The Saab 9-5 sports combination looked better straight away than in any picture and I didn't really care about the Saab 9-4x at first. One thing that would change as the tour progressed.
At the start of the tour, the new Saabs were driven to the factory gate, the security guard was recruited as a photographer and then it was off to Vänersee for the photo tour. I am in the middle of the convoy, as an “embedded journalist”.
First kilometers - first problems
After a few kilometers, the tour almost ended prematurely for me, rather for the Saab 9-5 sports suit. Rockfall in the pane! Captured by the Saab 9-4x driving in front of me. The first and the only hit during the tour. For the next few kilometers I'm busy with my little crack in the window. Does it grow or not grow? It didn't grow and the disc held the entire tour.
What is a pre-series model? Some materials do not match the series, the gaps do not and the car is not made on the production line of the series models. However, no trace of the announced Tesa film. The Saab 9-5 sports suit lies well on the road, nothing crackles, clatters or clatters. An impression that will be confirmed in the next few days.
Before the first photo stop, we go to a small Swedish gas station. Swedish chocolate is stored there. A very good and wise decision. Because one thing will be missing on the tour: time to eat.
The mountains of chocolate will last until Chemnitz and without the emergency ration I would probably have starved to death.
Saab-style photo session
What makes car managers tick when it comes to a photo session? At Saab it works like this: The lead vehicle sees a great, typically Swedish opportunity. Goes there and asks if we can take pictures on the premises. The dialogue then develops according to the following pattern: “Hello, we are from Saab ..” “From Saab - oh, yes, I also have one. Can I take a photo? ” It always works. That is Saab. In Sweden, the name Saab opens the door.
I doubt that it is similarly spontaneous in other car brands. There you have scouts, contracts, busy lawyers and then you start with a huge team. It's easier with Saab.
So in Swedish province we take pictures of lakes, farms and private homes. Then the time tweaks and it goes back to the south, because in the evening we want to be in Hamburg.
My Saab 9-5 sports suit is equipped with Drive Sense. In “Comfort Mode” the tuning is extremely soft. In “Sport Mode”, the suspension and response of the accelerator change. Everything becomes more spontaneous, but also hectic. After a few gimmicks I let it go. The “intelligent mode” is balanced and so good that it always fits.
Towards Malmö the traffic gets denser and we notice more and more. A Danish Saab 9-3 films us and then comes from behind a Saab 900 with Dutch number. A young couple overtakes, windows down, thumbs up. Griffin up!
During the next few kilometers our convoy will receive the two Dutchmen. Take photos, film, overhaul, let overtake. Join us as far as the Öresund Bridge, where you will turn. Each bet, the two had a different goal and have rearranged out of pure Saab enthusiasm.
No Saab doesn't make you happy
After the Öresund bridge again Denmark. Still as boring as in the previous 24 hours. The usual traffic jam on the ferry to Puttgarden. In front of me a Toyota from Hamburg. Former Saab driver. “The new Saab 9-5?” "Yes you know, I also had one…" Then comes a wistful report and actually - well, the Toyota - no, the man is not happy.
On the motorway in the direction of Hamburg: four Saab with a Swedish number in formation flight. Four continuous LED light bars, two rows on the Saab 9-5, one on the Saab 9-4x. Attention guaranteed.
Once in Hamburg, the day is not over. It goes with the Saab 9-4x to the port of Hamburg, to eat fish and to meet with the tour team. For the first time I'm sitting in the back of the Saab 9-4x. Endless legroom. An elevated seat. An airy feeling with the panorama roof. Plus a great sound. Man, man, where did I get to?
In a typical Hamburg fish restaurant in the harbor area I get to know the two other tour members in my team. Saab Germany Sales Director Thomas Schweizer and Area Sales Manager Jens Erkhe will be on the road with me and Saab Germany boss Jan-Philipp Schuhmacher.
I will drive the Saab 9-5 sports suit throughout the tour, at least almost. Because on Monday I will drive the Saab 9-4x. I suspect that this will not remain without consequences. The beginning of a passion.
How are the Saab dealers on the tour and how do the Saab partners react to a blogger? Will worlds collide or will it go well? More in the third part.