Osteopath explains how to adjust Saab seat... - Saab 9000 Bulletin Board - Saabnet.com


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Osteopath explains how to adjust Saab seat...
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Posted by ls (more from ls) on Sun, 26 Aug 2001 18:35:31 Share Post by Email
In Reply to: Seat height, Clive, Sun, 26 Aug 2001 01:13:46
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Automobile Magazine, November 1986

VELOCE
Character versus intelligence.
BY MEL NICHOLS

London---I hopped back into our faithful 30,000-mile family Saab 900 Turbo the other day. The experience was illuminating, not because I was coming back to the Saab after a couple of months at the wheel of my new Audi Quattro, but because, two days earlier, I'd been driving a new Saab 9000. Let me explain.

I chose the 900 Turbo three years ago, after having driven just about every car available in Europe, because it seemed to offer the best combination of virtues: performance and economy-, roadholding, handling, and ride-, seating and cabin comfort, load space, and safety. Since then I've been increasingly impressed by the intelligence of the Saab's design and the enduring quality of its ability and character. My wife and I have grown to love it dearly, and for all-around usage most cars still come off badly against it. For us, owning a Saab as been an unqualified success.

Not surprisingly, then, I'd been looking forward to trying the new 9000, especially since so many commentators have been saying how good it is,- indeed, in Georg Kacher's case, even buying one.

How I came to drive a 9000 was both unexpected and unusual, an aside that tells you a lot about Saab's individualistic approach. it happened like this. I went to see my osteopath, Terry Moule. Outraged that I hadn't yet driven a 9000, he insisted I take his out for a hard day's driving.

As it happens, Terry is rather more than an osteopath who's also an enthusiastic Saab owner. A leading light in European osteopathy and a specialist in clicking top sportsmen back into place, Terry also has a special involvement with Saab's designers. It began several years ago when he was treating England's then soccer captain, Gerry Francis. For Francis's back injury he 11 prescribed" a Saab. He reckoned it was the only car with properly designed seats. Francis told Saab this when he asked if he could borrow a car until he was fit again (he has subsequently bought a string of Turbos).

A little later, Saab emissary and former world rally champion, the larger-than-life Erik Carlsson, injured his back. Someone at Saab mentioned "an osteopath called Terry Moule." In the process of being straightened out, Erik was fascinated by the deft fingered Moule's views. He said that while Saab seats supported the body better than any others, there were certain ways in which they could be improved. Erik told Saab's designers in Trollhattan that they should consult this plain-speaking Englishman. So, for several years Terry's views on seating developments have been added to those of Saab's Swedish anatomical consultants, and every prototype Saab seat or modification is sent to London for the appropriately named Moule to assess in his own car. Apparently, future designs will lift comfort to even more impressive levels.

The exceptional support of the seat in our 900 Turbo has been one of the car's most endearing and valuable assets. It was Terry Moule, though, who helped me get the best from it. First he had me set the height of the cushion and then slide it forward until my left leg could depress the clutch fully without my hip moving forward. "Now I'm too close to the wheel," I grumbled. Undeterred, Moule then had me tilt the backrest much farther back than I'd ever contemplated. I soon saw why. The weight of my back was now fully on, and supported by, the backrest. It's a trick I now adopt in all other cars, though none has yet proved as comfortable, mile in and mile out, as the Saab.

Anyway, on a morning that I'd planned to spend at the word processor after an early visit to the good Terry, I found myself heading out of London in my irrepressible osteopath's 9000 Turbo. "Drive it hard" was all Terry had said. "You'll be surprised how much faster it is than the 900."

And now, after a good day's driving on some of the West Country's best roads, I know why the Saab 9000 Turbo is being hailed as such a splendid car.

It is amazingly fast for a 2.0-liter five-seater sedan. The performance in the gears is quite remarkable. It provides tremendous overtaking ability and veritably whips the 900 between the bends, making it wing-footed across country. The roadholding is good enough to make you wonder how crazy you'd have to be to send it off a dry road, and the handling is deft enough to make you think you're in a small bombshell like the Golf GTI. The brakes are potent and as light and progressive as the steering. Yet while all this Sports car stuff is going on, the ride remains luxurious. And though the body is so petite, the cabin is so roomy and comfortable, and there's a hatchback to boot. Throw in fine ergonomics to complete the mixture, and it isn't long before you start thinking that this car embodies the term "sports sedan."

Aside from a little too much thrum when the engine is revved hard, a touch of wind noise, and rather dodgy finish where those joining strips cover the seams between the roof and the C-pillars, there!s little worthy of criticism. No antilock brakes? Saab says its developing a superior new system, although it is taking longer than anticipated to perfect.

All told, it seems to me that, in creating the 9000, Saab's engineers have thoughtfully extended each of the strengths of the 900, then blencled them into a whole that, for all-around drivability and versatility, is probably impossible to beat at the moment, ABS or no ABS.

What intrigues me, though, is the discovery, a few miles after I'd hopped back into our old Saab, that the 900 has a lot more of one elusive ingredient than the 9000: character.

I wouldn't push the analogy too far, but it's a bit like comparing the Porsche 944 Turbo and the 911. One is unquestionably superior; the other has more personality And there lies the rub. When the time comes to replace our family car, there's little doubt that we'll choose another Saab. But how many zeros will follow the 9?


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