Tyres, along with oils, are among the most emotive subjects I have
come across in Saab circles. Much of this is to do with the wide variety
of tastes, driving styles and other considerations encountered. Consequently,
when one asks n Saab 9000 drivers for their recommendations on
tyres, one will probably receive n different recommendations.
To put the comments below into context, I have made performance a priority
with all three of the 9000s I have owned. That doesn't, of course, mean
that I have always chosen the best performance tyre available. Some
of them I couldn't afford, while for some of those I could afford, I
was not aware for some time that they were available. It also took me
some time after driving lower performance cars to realise how much difference
a performance tyre could make.
Please note that these are my own opinions based on my own personal
tastes, driving habits and budgets. They are purely subjective.
If, after reading the opinions below, you feel you can recommend a
tyre that might suit my enthusiastic driving style (and reasonable,
but not unlimited budget), please feel free to send some feedback.
The five 9000s I have owned to date are:
- 1987 9000 2.0 Turbo Manual - 205/55 15" wheels
I now realise that the handling on this car was never as good as it
could have been - I bought it at 168K miles with, as I now suspect,
rather tired suspension (you live and learn). Therefore, the tyres
probably had less influence on the performance than they otherwise
might have. It was still probably the best handling car I had owned
up to then.
- 1990 9000 CD 2.3 Turbo Manual - 205/55 15" wheels (transferred
from the 1987).
I grew to loathe this car. I now believe many of its shortcomings
may have been down to poor choice of tyres, although the soft CD suspension
certainly didn't go well with the way I chose to use the 200HP available.
It was certainly fast in a straight line, if I could keep the tyres
stuck well enough to the road to stop the traction control from backing
the throttle off to practically zero (not that easy...).
- 1996 9000 Aero Manual - 205/55 16" wheels.
This is a performance car requiring performance tyres. I have never
considered skimping on tyres for this car. Perhaps it is because,
on my third 9000, I am starting to appreciate the importance of tyre
choice. Since acquiring this car, I have modified it to produce around
300hp and over 300lbft of torque and also modified the suspension.
I have entered it in several track days. Good grip is of the utmost
importance. Since some of the track days have been in very wet conditions,
wet performance is also extremely important.
- 1995 9000 CSE 2.0LPT Manual - 195/65 15" wheels.
This is my "touring" car. As such, my priorities for tyres
are slightly different from those for the Aero. While I still require
reasonable performance in both wet and dry conditions, this car does
not demand as much grip from the tyres as the Aero does and low noise
and comfort are major considerations.
- 1996 9000 CSE 2.0LPT Automatic - 195/65 15" wheels.
I run this car for my father. He does not push the car hard and the
priorities for tyres on this car are safety coupled with fairly comfortable
running, low cost and long life.
Below is the list of tyres I have used on these cars, along with limited
data and comments on each.
|These were fitted to my '87 9000T when I bought it.
I subsequently bought some part-worn MXs for the same car. This
being my first 9000, and realising now that the suspension was probably
quite worn, I do not have much to compare these tyres to. However,
they seemed adequate at the time. Don't take this as a negative
comment. I simply don't have enough experience of these tyres to
say whether they are good or bad.
|These tyres seemed great when they were fitted, but
new tyres always do, don't they? I subsequently became aware that
they didn't grip as well as other tyres might, but they seemed to
wear well, which was important at the time as I was commuting about
80 miles per day. And for 50 quid each (back in 1995)...
|I bought these tyres shortly before I bought the 9000CD
2.3T and transferred the alloy wheels and tyres from my '87 9000T
to that car. In contrast with the Firestones, these tyres consistently
impressed me with their handling characteristics. Remember that
I hadn't had much experience of good performance tyres. I don't
know if they were quiet, but I can say that I certainly didn't notice
if they were noisy.
These tyres are an "own brand" sold
by Just Tyres in the
UK. While I have many reasons to recommend this dealer, these
are without a doubt the worst performing tyres I have had fitted
to any of my 9000s. I remembered the Michelin "Roadhog"
range (perhaps I'm getting old?) and only realised my mistake
These tyres seemed to have almost zero grip and kept the traction
control and ABS very active. I remember approaching a pedestrian
crossing at about 30MPH in the rain, seeing a pedestrian about
to cross and braking, in what should have been plenty of time,
before ABSing very slowly to a stop halfway across the
crossing. The pedestrian gestured me to continue!
They wore well and were on the car when I traded it in for the
Aero. Perhaps some unfortunate is still trying to figure out how
to get 200HP through them and thinking what an awful car the 9000CD
I came to the conclusion that whatever tyre you buy and whatever
your priorities, the Saab 9000 (especially the more powerful versions)
requires at least some consideration concerning tyre grip!
Footnote: at a recent track day (March 2003), one of the
entrants was a classic 900 with Roadhog tyres fitted to the front.
The owner sought me out because of this review (he owns a 9000
as well) and told me that he found they performed well. Perhaps
they have improved in the last couple of years or perhaps they
work better on the 900 than the 9000. Either way, I thought it
only fair to mention.
I test-drove my '96 Aero on Michelin Pilots worn
down to the legal limit. The weather was good and I was very impressed
with the handling (I owned the 9000CD at the time), but other
than that, cannot comment on the Pilots.
However, after negotiation with the dealer
selling the Aero, they agreed to replace as many tyres as necessary
to get the car through the MOT test (UK annual inspection). I
estimated three tyres needed to be replaced, the dealer reckoned
two. Imagine my joy when I arrived to pick up the car with four
new Pirelli P6000s fitted!
These tyres impressed me with their performance. Having tried
other tyres since, I realise that they were also quite quiet and
gave quite a soft ride. Consistent with the low treadwear rating,
they didn't last long (about 6 months for the front tyres). However,
remember that I was still having fun with my first Aero!
I looked around for some more P6000s, but could not find any
for less than about £135. I've since been told that they
can be bought for almost half that price, but in the meantime,
I looked around for maximum performance at a reasonable price.
Apart from the difference in price between this
and the Pirellis, I was also impressed to find that this tyre
is original equipment on the UK-spec Porsche Boxster. I originally
ordered Yokohama A-520s, and the dealer got them in stock for
me, then promptly sold them to another customer!!! The A-520 has
a reputation for harshness and noise, a no-compromise performance
tyre. It is also directional, a problem for me as my behaviour
at roundabouts tends to require swapping tyres from side to side
to even out the wear.
The dealer had S1-Zs on the shelf the day I called to pick up
my (now someone else's!) A-520s, so I had two of them fitted to
the front of the car. They grip well, and when they give way,
they do so silently. The stiff sidewalls make the steering feel
more precise, but they ride harshly and are quite noisy on cornering.
I have bought about 10 or 12 of these tyres. The relatively low
price compared to Michelins or Pirellis makes these tyres good
value for money for a driver interested in performance tyres.
I had to buy two front tyres in a hurry. The nearest
dealer didn't stock Yokohama, nor did they stock Bridgestone,
which I thought I might try when the Yokohamas wore out. They
offered me 3 different tyres, and when I expressed a preference
for performance, recommended the Avon ZZ1. Having had no time
to consider, the only thing I had to go on was the dealer's recommendation.
The ZZ1 is a directional tyre. Due to my driving style and the
fact that I drive round a lot of roundabouts, I tend to wear out
the left front tyre first. Being directional, I cannot swap the
ZZ1s to equalise wear and feared I would have to change both when
the left front tyre wore out. However, this fear proved unfounded
and the tyres wore quite evenly, with a bias towards wear on the
left. The ZZ1 supposedly offers good wet performance. I don't
like driving hard in the wet, so can't comment much. However,
the 9000 Aero could probably break traction easily in the wet
on any tyre. It certainly can with the ZZ1.
I found the dry grip of the ZZ1 to be fairly good, although I
don't think it was as good as the S1-Z. It is difficult to tell
because of the ZZ1's overriding disadvantage: it squeals!
I hate that!
My cornering speed was often limited more by noise than available
grip. Although the noise level dropped slightly in the first month
or two, it never became acceptable. I have since been told by
a 9000 owner in Canada that he found the 17" ZZ1 not to squeal
When driving sedately or in a straight line, the ZZ1 was more
comfortable and certainly quieter than the Yokohama S1-Z. Although
more compliant, they didn't make the steering feel much less precise
than the super-stiff S1-Zs.
In a 1998 review, Max Power
magazine found the ZZ1 the worst performing of the ten tyres they
tested (Bridgestone S-02 came top). However, they did comment
that they looked good.
After the Avons wore out, I finally got round to replacing
all four tyres with Bridgestone Potenza S-03 Pole Position, which
has received excellent reviews, as did the S-01 and S-02 before
it. Writing this one week and 1000 miles later, what can I say
These tyres offer very good dry grip - certainly better than
any tyre I have tried so far, and handling is very precise. My
car now handles exceptionally well in the dry. They give a fairly
comfortable ride and don't seem too noisy, although I'm not very
discerning in that direction.
If that were all, these tyres would be worth every penny. However,
their wet grip is simply amazing! I can almost throw the car around
in the wet as I do in the dry. A few experimental emergency stops
in heavy rain have left me speechless and a couple of inches of
water at the side of the road pose no problem at all. I always
assumed that wet weather performance was an oxymoron.
For all-round road driving, I have the tyres inflated to 35
PSI, as recommended for the Aero. For track days, I've found that
38 PSI gives better performance.
Anyway, I may have found the ideal performance tyre for the British
Update: I have now had the chance to experience these
tyres on the track and I must say I'm still very impressed. Despite
100+mph aquaplaning on standing water in torrential rain, they
have handled wet weather as well as any tyre can reasonably be
expected to. In the dry, they have given enough grip that I have
been able to match the handling of a Lotus Elise around the Goodwood
circuit, albeit with the benefit of suspension modifications.
I plan to upgrade to 17" wheels shortly to accommodate bigger
brakes, and will be trying the 17" version of the S-03s.
|Lassa Impetus 60
Lassa are a budget manufacturer based in Turkey. These tyres
are from their performance range and an almost-new set was fitted
to my CSE 2.0LPT auto when I bought it. I'm not the main driver
of this car, so I have had limited opportunity to assess these
tyres, but I have managed to form an impression of them.
Performance-wise, dry grip is reasonable, but nowhere near the
performance of the S-03, and not as good as the Dunlops, despite
being a lower-profile tyre. Wet grip is mediocre. Comparing two
CSEs on the same wet road on the same day, the CSE with the Dunlop
SP Sport 01s (see below) proved much more confident.
As far as ride is concerned, these tyres do ride a little harshly
and produce significant road noise. They're not overwhelmingly
noisy, but the noise is quite noticeable.
I don't know how much these tyres sell for, but if they're cheap
(less than £40 each), then they are probably worth considering
as a budget performance tyre. I believe there is now an "Impetus
2" range, so the "Impetus" range may no longer
|Dunlop SP Sport 01
I was looking around for tyres for my CSE 2.0LPT
manual and my priority was comfort and low noise, as this is my
"cruiser" for long distances. Some measure of performance
was desirable too. I suddenly realised that in all my 9000 ownership,
I had absolutely no experience of buying this sort of tyre, as
my bias has always been firmly towards performance with little
compromise. I asked for recommendations and among many useful
comments, someone mentioned that these tyres were supposed to
be one of the quietest available, and that Northway
Tyres (who have branches in Watford and St. Albans, both local
to me) had them on special offer. Off I went to Watford and had
a set fitted.
I like these tyres a lot. They are without doubt the quietest
tyre I've ever driven on and give a very soft, comfortable ride.
Not only that, but they perform very well. Both wet grip and dry
grip are very good, although not up to the "ultimate performance"
standard of the S-03. The steering feels very precise.
I can thoroughly recommend this tyre to anyone who is less interested
in performance than comfort, but values the safety afforded by
good grip and predictable handling. And when you do want to throw
the car around on the odd occasion, these tyres won't let you
Footnote: I recently (March 2003) got the chance to take
the CSE on the track and raised the tyre pressures from 32psi
to 37psi to cope with the high-speed driving. On a totally unmodified
car I was amazed at how well these tyres performed throughout
the session. On leaving the circuit, I realised that the higher
tyre pressure hardly affected the ride quality at all and the
car now handles much better on the road. This experience has impressed
me even more with this tyre and I think I will maintain the tyre
pressures at around 35 psi or so.