Is he safe? The Saab 900 II in the historical crash test

The heyday of crash tests began 30 years ago. At the same time it was probably the best time for car magazines. In the pre-Internet age, the current issue was regularly bought at the kiosk. Mostly it was the auto-motor-sport, which was then considered to be the leader. The magazine had already started its own crash tests early on.

Saab 900 II in the 1994 crash test
Saab 900 II in the 1994 crash test

High expectations for the Saab 900 II

The result was then available in the form of a VHS video cassette as a supplement to the magazine, or the manufacturer distributed it to its dealers and customers. In 1994, the then new Saab 900 II had to face the test. Expectations were high, especially high in the Saab case. Because the Swedish brands Volvo and Saab stood for safe vehicles like hardly any other provider.

Saab Germany provided the test object, the Auto-Motor-Sport crew and the TÜV tested. The result was good from Saab's point of view. The new Saab was considered a particularly safe vehicle and stood out from the crowd. The result was not flawless, which in the end resulted in criticism in the media. But the 900 II was considered very safe.

Back then, Saab was constantly improving the safety of its vehicles. Data from accident research flowed into the series, with each model year there was a spoon more in additional safety for customers. With the change from 900 II to 9-3 I, it was refilled and upgraded again. The body became stiffer and additional airbags were deployed.

It was all a long time ago. Almost 30 years have passed since the first 900 II was rolled off the production line. The matter of vehicle safety has also changed fundamentally since then. It used to be the hardware that mattered. A body that is both rigid and soft enough to absorb impact energy while protecting passengers was the fine art of vehicle construction.

Today it is software that makes the difference. The computer rules and clever assistance systems recognize the crash before it can even take place. In the best case, they avoid it, in the worst case they protect the lives of the inmates. Volvo is pursuing the vision of completely avoiding accidents and not letting anyone die in traffic.

But the best of all assistance systems is humans. Driving defensively, relaxed and with foresight prevents accidents. That was already the case at the time of a Saab 900 II and is still valid today.

6 thoughts on "Is he safe? The Saab 900 II in the historical crash test"

  • There they are again, old prejudices against the 900 II. The platform is off the GM shelf, but SAAB made something different from it than Opel. An Alfa 164 is also not a 9000.

    The NCAP test was introduced when the 900 II was rolling off the production line. All three “premium brands” from southern Germany collapsed at the end of the 90s in such a way that they were given a second attempt, which of course is not allowed to a foreigner.
    The 9-5 on its GM platform was the first 5-star car ever!

    The 900 II was the first car that was not a convertible with decapitated occupants after an elk accident.

    During a TÜV appointment with my 900 II Coupé, the engineer suddenly looked out of the pit and asked if it was the SAAB on the Opel platform. Yeah, not quite, why? It all looks much more stable here.
    Any questions?

  • @ Uli Beitel,

    interesting info. Thank you. My personal accident experience with the 9-3 I (see previous comment) has therefore and luckily played out in a favorable window (strength & speed), in which the Saab really “felt comfortable”.

    Secretly I like cars that leave any deformation to the opponents of the accident. But is selfish and no longer up to date.

    Accidentally had the same accident twice. As described, the 9-3 I did well, but was still an economic total loss.

    An old Volvo (EZ 1978) in a similar configuration only had a small and horizontal slot in the front in the very, very fat bumper, which the rear towing eye of the vehicle in front had punched into it. The old Gothenburg was as stiff as a T-beam and the bumper was a bit cushioned, but ultimately supported directly on the frame. That had something too.

  • The first 900 II were actually only delivered with the driver airbag. In addition, both the rev counter and the third brake light were missing, although at least the (empty) housing was mounted in the tailgate.

    The results of the tougher NCAP crash test and the Bild newspaper showed a catastrophic result. Only Citroen Xantia and Alfa Romeo 156 were worse. The A-pillar of the 900 was almost vertical after the crash, the deformations in the footwell were considerable, no wonder with the Vectra I-Basis. The modified 9-3 I was hardly better either. Only the side impact test both showed acceptable results.

    It was only with the 9-5 I that this flawed image was convincingly improved, at that time the 9-5 performed best at NCAP, even better than Volvo and Mercedes.

    Every car represents a compromise between high energy consumption (soft crumple zones) and stability (high-strength passenger cell). But the cost factor is also an important point, which is why the Vectra I floor pan had to be used at that time.

  • I didn't even know that the 900 II would be available without a passenger airbag. I've never seen one like this before.

  • Sandwich

    In the 9-3 I was rudely pushed by a Mondeo into a Mercedes in front of me. The occupant protection and the controlled deformation (at the rear less than the Mondeo at the front and less at the front than the E-Class at the rear) Saab really did very well.


    Everything that Heijo Red says is true. The autonomy and independence of Scania in the VW Group is legendary. In principle, VW is just an owner who has no influence. This would have been wished for for Saab and GM as well.
    Nevertheless, my personal interest in modern trucks and buses tends - to be honest - towards zero. I only find the environmental aspects exciting here. In France buses run by Scania m. W. with new engines and a new mixture of a few percent diesel and red wine.
    What is meant, of course, is waste from viticulture, ultimately ethanol. Impressively simple and climate-friendly and without any rare earths. I can't hear stories like that often and loud enough. But otherwise?

  • ´´SCANIA´´ ??
    ´´Just a little nudge´ from a passionate Saab driver for over 30 years´… unfortunately there isn’t too much new or previously unpublished information about SAAB as a car manufacturer´… maybe you should in the blog now and then also report on SCANIA trucks´ ... because there are lots of innovations and potential for the future (e-mobility etc.) ... even if SCANIA has been part of the VW group for a long time´ but a lot more important is ´ have retained your independent model development and production´ and continue to be considered a capable, highly efficient manufacturer of trucks of all categories in the world´´ !! to reconcile ´ with the loss of Saab as a car producer ´ !!


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