Saab B235R. The fat lives on in the pickup.

Sometimes you meet old friends unexpectedly again. 3 years ago, when the Saab B235R hit me from a Chinese engine compartment. He was almost the old man, except for a few details. He had now changed his name and heard from now on the name B236R. He had become weaker and had lost one or the other horsepower. Strange was only his installation position. Longitudinal instead of transverse was unfamiliar, but that had already before the Chinese Australier tries.

New Beijing F40 pickup
New Beijing F40 pickup. Photo Credit:

He's also been in a relationship with a 6-speed automatic since then, which, I have to admit, suited him well. At that time he lived in a drum with a name BAIC BJ40he got on quite well with. No elegant appearance as in the glorious times, more the type of rough logs. His work in the services of the National People's Liberation Army must have made him good, because China's military drove off on him. They saw him as an alternative to the American Humvee, who already has his big days behind him.

The B235R from Saab lives on

Granted, I thought the B235R would be with the Senova line pass on, and the Chinese part of the Saab saga would finally be told. I was wrong, because a few days ago the fat man made a name for himself again. The engine that Saab 9k and 9-5 drivers like to refer to as the "fat one" because a large 2.3 liter displacement is distributed over just 4 cylinders.

What is unusual today, but was not at the time it was created. Ford also had a 2.3, Citroen distributed 2,5 liters in 4 pots, and Porsche also poured a lot of 3 liters. Only today, as the age of small engines is coming to an end, does this displacement seem large to us. It is only sensible. With the B235, displacement equates to low speeds, good acceleration, low consumption, few pollutants and relaxed gliding.

The B235R, or also B236R as it wants to be called today, appeared again in a very martial vehicle. The Senova brand became Beijing, and with the new one F40 BAIC introduces the pickup derivative of the BJ40. The robust basic design provides the BJ40, the all-wheel drive is as usual switchable when needed. The B236R engine was taken over unchanged, it performs 245 PS and 350 Nm, which is currently the largest expansion stage. In China, the pickup costs around 19.000 €, for a domestic make a lot.

During my test drive in 2016, the charged 2.3 liter coped quite well with the mountain of sheet metal. There was, of course, a starting weakness that was not known from Saab times. And the engine had also lost its sophistication somewhere. You can see that calmly, because the Beijing F40 will hardly make it to Germany. The unofficial BAIC importer has only two vehicles in the program, which are much more sensible and compared to the pickup toys. In addition, the martial pickup of the green neighborhood could hardly be conveyed.

Nevertheless, the fat B235R lives on. Somewhere in China. That's a melancholy reassuring feeling.

5 thoughts on "Saab B235R. The fat lives on in the pickup."

  • Following the laws of physics, a displacement of 500 ccm per cylinder with stroke = bore is the optimal combustion chamber. The pressure wave after ignition spreads spherically. Hub = bore comes closest to this shape. The 500 ccm per cylinder result from the max. possible piston speed without the oil film would break and the velocity of propagation of the gases.

    It is no coincidence that the current model range and the history of the automobile is brimming with 2,0 liter 4-cylinder or other engines with 500 ccm per cylinder - be it a 3,0 liter 6 cylinder or a 6,0 liter 12 -Cylinder. Or a motorcycle with a 500 cc 1-cylinder ...

    Anyone who still likes large combustion chambers shouldn't look to Japan, but rather look to very, very old classic cars (Europe) or Americans up to the 1970s and find 1.000 cc per cylinder and more. Or you look at trucks and ships ...

  • If you want a relatively large four-cylinder currently, I recommend to look around at Mazda, there is still such a thing. There is not so convinced of the trend to small supercharged engines and goes with the Skyactiv gasoline a slightly different way.

    There are still 2,5 liter distributed on four cylinders, but without the Saab drivers so popular turbocharger, for which you have to buy a diesel at Mazda.
    If you want a charged gasoline engine, you have to take the new Skyactiv X with compression ignition (comparable to diesel, often called Diesotto in this country), but there is no more than 2,0 liters and it also has 'only' a compressor.

    If it is allowed to be a diesel, there is something from Mitsubishi in the Pajero (3,2 liter four-cylinder), which as an off-road vehicle is better to compare with the bolide presented in the article ...

  • (...) 10 years ago!

    "And the engine itself is much older again," one would add. It was (wrong again), no, it IS (!) A really good engine ...

    • Has been awarded several times as the engine of the year international!

  • The 9 life of a cat, or something? The SAAB genes seem to survive everything. After all, the sale of the engines is already 10 years ago!

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