Sweden has produced some impressive performance cars over the years. Here are ten of the fastest
Sweden has a long history of producing some seriously brilliant and innovative cars. While Volvo was (and still is) an innovator in safety tech, Saab used its aeronautical experience to build extremely well engineered and clever cars. Both companies did have a slightly naughty side
Here are ten of the most outrageously quick cars to emerge from Sweden:
Saab 99 Turbo
While forced induction was a not a new concept, Saab really made strides harnessing the potential of the turbocharger with its 99 Turbo. Although the model had been around since 1968, the Turbo didn’t come on song until 1978. Thanks to a Garrett turbocharger, the 99 was boosted to 143 bhp – capable of pushing the two-door saloon (and later three-door combi coupe) on to a top speed of 124mph.
Volvo 240 Turbo
It wasn’t just Saab that had a go at turbocharging. Volvo’s 240 Turbo, or later GLT, was the original ‘Flying Brick’. It became a force to be reckoned with in the European Touring Car Championship, beating its Rover SD1, Jaguar XJS and BMW 635i rivals to the title in 1985. Although you could buy the saloon or estate and hassle far more sporty cars in the outside lane of the motorway, it was the specially homologated Turbo Evo model that featured the real racing pedigree. Although Volvo were required to build and sell 500 of these, most of the cars that reached the USA were not fitted with the uprated turbo and intercoolers…
Volvo 850 T5-R
Building off Volvo’s second big turbocharged motorsport success in the British Touring Car Championship, a special edition 850 model – developed with help from Porsche – was launched in 1995. Pushing out 240bhp from its tweaked five-cylinder turbo engine, The T5-R was available in saloon and estate form, with 17-inch alloy wheels and a subtle front lip spoiler the only external givaway. A real Q car. Due to the success of the T5-R, and the fact it was only ever planned to be a limited edition, it was followed by the 850R in 1996.
Saab 900 Turbo
A new 16-valve cylinder head was the first of many new innovations for this super cool Swede. The one to have was the T16S model, also known as the Aero (or SPG in the USA). Perhaps the biggest innovation was the introduction of APC, or Automatic Performance Control. As far as turbocharged cars were concerned, it was technically
Saab 9-3 Viggen
Famed for its legendary torque steer, the 9-3 Viggen was at it’s least impressive in convertible form. Sloppy body and rampant torque steer aside, this car was names after a Jet fighter from Saab’s past. Which means it is fast. With help from TWR, Saab installed the larger 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine from the 9-5, with an uprated Mitsubishi turbocharger for 230bhp and 258lb ft of torque.
Here’s something a little more extreme! Christian Von Koenigsegg has been producing his supercars since 2006. They have evolved over the years, with more power and weight-saving technology. The One:1 is so far the ultimate incarnation, producing 1360PS, matching the weight figure of 1360kg – hence the name.
Volvo C70 T5
Launched towards the end of the golden era for the Coupe market, the C70 was certainly a looker. It offered the most curvaceous looks since the P1800, and it still stands up today. Significantly, it also represented a return to the convertible market for the Swedish company. Developed in conjunction with TWR, the car was based around the old 850 architecture, with the cabriolets criticised for their excessive scuttle shake when new. Like the saloons, the high-performance T5 models are astonishingly quick, but the chassis wasn’t built to inspire. Capable and comfortable just about sums it up.
Saab 9000 Aero
Saab partnered with Lancia, Fiat and Alfa Romeo to produce the ‘Type 4’ Saab 9000 project. It’s body architecture and doors were shared with the Fiat Croma and Lancia Thema, but Saab thoroughly re-worked everything to bring it up to their engineering standards. Although Saab had impressive Turbo models, including the bodykitted Carlsson, it wasn’t until the hugely improved facelift models that the Aero was launched. The 2.3-litre turbocharged engine featured an incredibly sophisticated Trionic ECU system, making this an extremely smooth powerful while offering genuinely impressive fuel efficiency. While the front-wheel drive chassis was a bit of a handful in the wet, it was a surprisingly effective performance machine.
Saab 9-3 Turbo X
Saab was all about front-wheel drive – it is after all the best option for snowy countries – but it had dabbled with some Haldex style four wheel drive system. The Turbo X saw Saab mix the Cross-Wheel Drive layout with a 276bhp 2.8-litre V6 engine, its most powerful ever. It was enough to do the 0-62mph dash in just 5.7secs, and power onto a limited top speed of 155mph.
Volvo S60 Polestar Concept
Pushing out 508bhp from a highly tuned turbocharged in-line six cylinder engine, the Polestar was intended to be a full-on BMW M5 rival, but it wasn’t meant to be. Although Volvo sadly never put this S60 Polestar concept car into full-scale production, it did spawn a range of Polestar tweaked models.