10 years Saab XWD

Before 10 years, in the spring 2008, Saab introduced the Turbo X of the press on the racetrack Paul Ricard. The start in four-wheel drive Age at the small, Swedish brand! And Saab was late. But actually everything had started much earlier.

Saab Turbo X. First four-wheel Saab in series
Saab Turbo X. First four-wheel Saab in series. Image: Saab Automobile AB / Archive saabblog.net

Saab and all-wheel drive could have been a symbiosis like Audi and Quattro. There was Saab-Sigge. Bourgeois Sigvard Johansson, who worked in the Stallbacka to give rally vehicles more traction. Johansson, his father-in-law Days Flodén As a toolmaker in the 92 era, the brand remained loyal to 1984. Then he founded the IPU AB, which is the root of the all-wheel specialist Haldex.

Four-wheel as a family thing

Regardless, Saab continued to work on four-wheel drive, based on the ideas of Saab-Sigge. 1987 was at least a prototype based on the Saab 9000 CC and an all-wheel system based on Torsen differentials. 1992 became another Prototyp on the wheels, now based on the 9000 CS. He is still in the magazine of the Saab Museum in Trollhattan.

Haldex IV differential
Haldex IV differential. Image: Saab Automobile AB / Archive saabblog.net

Also in the following years, GM had entered and eventually took over Saab completely, the work on four-wheel drive vehicles continued. The projects always failed due to the opposition of the Americans. Until sometime, probably around 2005, GM directors visited the Norrland proving ground and drove an all-wheel drive Saab. The direct comparison between front and 4 wheel drive must have been so emphatic that Saab got the complete four-wheel drive development for the group.

Lead developer: Peter Johansson, son of Saab-Sigge and grandson of Days Flodén, Like so much at Saab, the four-wheel drive family matter was just as much. Due to the traditional relationships Trollhättan got exclusive access to the brand new Haldex IV system.

Dry roads, 90% drive on the front axle
Dry roads, 90% drive on the front axle. Image: Saab Automobile AB / Archive saabblog.net

Together with the optional electronic limited slip differential eLSD, Saab put the best all-wheel drive system on the market back then. 20 sensors supply the system with 100 parameters per second, which is normally designed as a good-natured front-wheel drive. Only 5 - 10% of the driving force flows to the rear axle. With violent acceleration and dry road conditions, the brave front-wheel drive Saab becomes a dynamic rear-wheel drive. Up to 100% can rest on the rear axle, the vehicle changes its character fundamentally for a short moment.

Snow, ice, wet. Variable distribution of driving forces
Snow, ice, wet. Variable distribution of driving forces. Image: Saab Automobile AB / Archive saabblog.net

Dynamics and traction are the strengths of the Saab XWD system. From the Turbo X, which always has eLSD on board, it makes a Kurvenräuber that finds traction even in the most unfavorable conditions. A single wheel with a little grip is enough to move the Saab.

Saab XWD. Indispensable for the premium league.

The Saab XWD, introduced 10 years ago, fitted in well with the strategy of Carl Peter Forster, who wanted to place Saab in the premium league. Powerful front-wheel drive vehicles had their limits, but he wanted more performance for Saab. The 280 hp Turbo X was the most powerful Saab series of all time in 2008, followed by the 9-5 II, which delivered 2010 hp and all-wheel drive from 300. And certainly more would have been possible.

XWD powertrain in Saab 9-3
XWD powertrain in Saab 9-3. Image: Saab Automobile AB / Archive saabblog.net

The innovative Haldex IV system had its weaknesses at its premiere and the following early years. Among other things, there were problems with the seals, the aging and the mixing of the oils in the system. This led, in the worst case, to failure and destruction. After some time, the causes had been identified and the problems had been eliminated. Saab XWD riders should nevertheless be on a regular maintenance, the oils used are subject to aging.

The system is still a lot of fun today. Especially when the electronic limited slip differential is on board. It makes the Saab dynamic on dry, winding roads. And a 9-3 or 9-5 XWD is hard to beat in snow and ice. With a big smile on your face, you drive away from all SUVs that pretend they have all-wheel drive, but in reality are stupid blenders. The story that started many years ago with Saab-Sigge came to an all-wheel-drive end.

27 thoughts on "10 years Saab XWD"

  • That would have been my dream car back then. But unfortunately it was not available as a diesel ... (4W was only available for petrol)

  • I have been wondering for a long time why there have never been any 9-3 convertibles or diesel with XWD? Vlt. does anyone here know the reason ...?

    • To my knowledge, there are diesel (9-3X and 9-5 NG) with XWD.

      With the convertible, I can only speculate that it (as a collector's item or you as the fair weather queen) was probably not given a priority when XWD was introduced. XWD SAABs were unfortunately only produced for a few years and in a time of falling sales and economic difficulties ...

      You probably had other and bigger worries, than to put an XWD convertible on its feet? I can clearly understand the XABD priorities set by SAAB (9-3 lifestyle estate cars and saloons, and then the attempt to launch 9-4X and 9-5 II SC).

      • 9-3X is always front-wheel drive diesel. The 9-5 NG you are right. Were alleged technical reasons that made XWD at the 9-3 in combination with diesel not possible. Which is not known to me. But it can also be that in Trollhättan once again only had a bad day.

        • “As a diesel, the 9-3X is always front-wheel drive.”

          Again something learned. Thank you! It is now common practice to offer even “off-road vehicles” depending on the engine only with FWD. Even Range Rover does that. A 9-3X diesel with FWD is okay?
          I would have expected otherwise from SAAB. One liked to be different. And mostly it was said that you were better ...

          "You're right with the 9-5 NG."
          At least 50 percent. If there was a SAAB Abitur, I would have passed. With 4,0 ...
          The 9-5 TTid with XWD was a promising car. I have no idea how SAAB would have emerged from the diesel scandal, but as a SC it could very well have been my first diesel ...

  • how do I actually notice that the electronic limited slip differential is included?
    Like our 9-3 four-wheeler, you just notice that the four-wheel drive weighs a lot, but otherwise you enjoy the great traction in winter.

    • Only in winter?

      With my SAAB FWD and a vintage car with rear-wheel drive, I can and must find out all year round that both drive concepts are strictly limited in different ways in bringing the respective power to the road ...

      I think AWD is an advantage year round. In case of doubt already alone, because one grinning with AWD any discussion about the pros and cons of the other two drive concepts in the bud or retreat nobly from this.

  • Drive a SAAB 93X 2,0 AWD (BJ 2010). So far a dream. But be careful, the AWD system needs regular maintenance and then it will run for many years. Every 30 thousand kilometers of oil / filter every 60 thousand kilometers.
    Have just completely changed everything (60 Tkm). not cheap, but once again calm and you drive like on rails. Great!! 220 PS also needs a bit more super, but everything in the frame. Ahoy and greetings from the north.

    • May one ask, what does not mean cheap in numbers?

      • Completely approx. 450 euros (including labor costs). Greetings from the Northern Lights

  • Great article. But it also makes me a little sad ...

    10 years of XWD would be a nicer party if the showrooms of the SAAB dealers were full of new XWD models. MY 2019. Or if I had at least one deer 9-5 SC XWD 2.0 switch in the yard myself ...

    Speaking of stalking NG,
    In the absence of alternatives, I keep looking for the limousine and recently found an (almost) suitable offer. Except for Hirsch and XWD, the switch (apart from the hatchback) had everything my heart desires. Combined rear and XWD are not so easy to implement. Already knew that …

    My disappointment set in when the Hirsch page about the upgrade said: “Not available in your market”.

    Is it really true that there is no upgrade for FWD switches (2.0 Petrol)? Does anyone know more here?

    • It is not like this. If a version is not displayed usually helps a call from the Saab workshop at Hirsch. Usually there is very friendly helped.

      • Good to know and fits like a fist on the eye that the next post is about a stalked FWD switch. So it works!

        Hirsch should go through its own database. The MT6 was listed but explicitly as “Not available in your market”. In addition to the available AT6. This is not a good thing if you want to sell your software ...

  • Yes, the XWD Days in Mayerhofen were already great.
    I have now switched to a 9-3x with automatic, XWD and eLSD. Despite oil change (about all 50tkm) and the seal was broken at 130tkm the hydraulic pump.
    However, one notices in direct comparison (with my old 9-3 SC FWD) in a spin course of a car club the difference very well. The grip with XWD is really great.
    When I had to drive on a steep snow-covered mountain road, my old 9-3 SC without XWD had no chance, with XWD no problem. With a grin up the mountain.
    Every day I enjoy riding one of the few 9-3x.

    • I remember a drive home on the B303 of Marktredwitz the Fichtelgebirgsauffahrt, 5 cm snow on the road: down an 3er BMW overtook me with already faggling tail, later he has hardly advanced and I was allowed to pass him in peace.

  • My 9-3 X is - after driving about 1,2 million km Saab - the best Saab I've ever had.
    He has now 206 tkm (of which 132 tkm driven by me) and still new car quality.
    The XWD lets him drive like on rails, especially in winter.
    The Haldex made occasionally problems with plucking, three oil changes in a short distance solved the problem, it was not a costly replacement necessary.

    • great, thank you very much for the tip, I also had the rumbling noise (at 135T km) and wanted to have the Haldex replaced - I'll try changing the oil now and I'll get back to you!!!

      André HIschi, Davos

  • I really appreciate XWD (9-5NG, 2.8 deer), both winter and summer, but unfortunately the Haldex differential was damaged at 110.000 km. Manifested by loud knocking and scraping as well as loss of traction at the rear. Repair was quite expensive. Mileage today is 170.000, without any problems (knocked on the phone 3 times).

  • I was thrilled with my then new 9-3 X with AWD (it must have been one of the last) in the first corner. The 9-3 TTDI that had been driven previously had often “scraped its front hooves”. Unfortunately, the Haldex unit was canceled halfway through the three-year lease period - apparently the required maintenance work was not sufficient. The subsequent dispute between the leasing company and the car dealership over the question of whether the car dealership had to bear the costs of the repair - at least around €6.000 - under the warranty had not yet been resolved when the contract expired, and the manufacturer's warranty was now with the company Saab went under. At least the Saab continued to drive reliably as FWD the entire time, albeit with reduced enthusiasm. And there is no real enthusiasm for the company cars that have been driven since then. After all, the current Golf Alltrack is based on the concept of the 9-3 X.

  • Great article.
    I had the 9-3 with 280hp without AWD and now a 9-5II with 300hp and XWD. So I know the direct comparison. Where the front-wheel drive car reached its limits at times and was overwhelmed with performance, there is still no sign of this with the XWD. Even if you don't need it every day, I wouldn't want to be without the XWD system. And the advantages in winter are obvious. As far as maintenance is concerned, change the Haldex oil every 30000 km and the filter every 60000 km. The 800ml bottle costs around €115 from Saab and is enough for 2 changes, as you only get around 350ml out of the system.

  • Thank you Tom for the great “family story” from Trollhättan! 🙂
    Another facet smarter ... and, as always, so exciting ...
    This dynamic has to feel insane, I have not had any XWD in my ass yet. Too bad, because I do not know any XWD owner in my region. 🙁

  • Thank you for the interesting article! What would you pay attention to if you are interested in an 9-3x? Are there any other issues besides regular maintenance of the gearbox? An exchanged seal in the context of a service action carried out could still be clarified. But the aging that is being talked about can mean everything. Is there empirical values ​​here regarding longevity?

  • Great look back at the SAAB story! More please!

  • Interesting story!
    Thanks for that - learned something again! 🙂

    I've recently read somewhere by the way, that Haldex synonymous with various other brands is used.
    (also partly at Audi; ... and a friend always tells me something about the “superiority and uniqueness” of the Audi all-wheel drive) 😉

    Somehow I notice “nothing” about my “all-wheel drive”.

    I just drive my “Drömbil” like all Saabs before; but so far never had the feeling of insecurity or "border area" with it.
    (The ship takes curves / driveways tightly, there are no problems in winter, acceleration is OK and in everyday life the all-wheel drive apparently somehow works completely "unnoticed")

    But I would like to renounce all-wheel drive I probably in the future but reluctantly. 😉

    • Audi installs Haldex in the small, Golf-compatible models. So A3, Q3 TT etc ... Otherwise, Audi relies on a different system based on a center and center differential and originating from the original Quattro models.

      • Moin Tom.

        Ah, thanks for the information!
        He had a TT - hihi!

  • So I have to think back to the XWD Days in Mayerhofen, that was great as well.

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