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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Nordic Stage 2 Tune: Full Review
Model: 2005 Saab 93 Linear 2.0t
Tested at Dragway 42, West Salem, Ohio
April 3, 2010


This review is intended only to share my experiences with my Saab and to provide information that may help someone make a decision and/or avoid a mistake. Please read at your own risk.

This post may be boring to many, but may be good information to many as well. Please know that I am writing this not to boast about my car, but to share my experience for any of those who are interested.

Before
I purchased my Saab without doing much research on Saabs in particular. I was looking for a car that had good horsepower, good handling, good looks, good mileage, and a good reputation for reliability. I test drove the Passat 2.0t, Audi A4 1.8t, WRX, Mazda 6 V6, Civic si, and Saab 93 2.0t. All automatics. The Saab wasn’t the fastest by far, of course that went to the WRX, but to me it was the clear winner. I realized that I was looking for refinement and not pure sport. This car had it.

During normal economy type driving this car is amazing! I have calculated mileage as high as 34mpg, but typical highway mileage was around 30 to 32 mpg. City driving as high as 25mpg but usually around 23mpg. The handling is sporty, but not harsh. The controls are convenient and adequate. The stereo is ok. The seats are firm but comfortable enough for long trips. Visibility is great. Overall a very nice, well rounded ride!

During spirited driving the mileage obviously drops, but never below 22mpg. Power is decent, a step above a Honda Civic si, but not like a WRX, not even close. But for the 2.0 it’s pretty good, especially with the mileage. Handling is not stiff enough for the performance minded but decent enough if you come from a truck like I did, or from an economy car.

After driving for a few months I quickly realized that it was underpowered. I also learned that I had purchased the “slow” model in the 2.0t, (that’s “little t”) and should have held out for a 2.0T (“big T”) in the Aero configuration. The Aero/Arc models have more power, more options, stiffer suspension, better handling, and better resale. Yeah, I should’ve held out for the Aero. Oh well. Also, having an auto transmission doesn’t help the performance feel. Anyway, it just seemed to need a little more power. I found this forum very useful for doing my research on what I could do to improve the performance of my car.

I considered BSR, Jak Stoll, Nordic, and various other tuners/tunes. I took the advice of Nick Talliaferro from Talliaferro Imports and www.GenuineSaab.com and looked more at the Nordic tune. I did more research and decided on the Nordic Stage 1.

Nordic Stage 1 Tune
Okay, let me just give you my initial impression….WOW! I liked my car before, but now I love my car! It now “feels” like it has a turbo. Nick Talliaferro was right! Totally happy that I made this mod.

I purchased the Nordic Stage 1 tune from Nick Talliaferro at www.genuinesaab.com. I filled out the online order form, which was very easy, placed the order on my credit card online, and waited for confirmation. I received an email confirmation as well as a call from a nice young lady at GS. I spoke with Nick T. about the process and he was great! He took the time to explain the whole ordeal and made me feel comfortable with my purchase.

The process involves removing your ECU from the engine bay and shipping it off to get the tune downloaded. Nick does a great job explaining the process and even went as far as to make a pdf file downloadable from their website. It took me approximately 15 minutes to remove the ECU. I boxed it up in a shipping box about 5 times bigger than the ECU. I made sure to double ziplock baggie the ECU and surrounded it with plenty of newspapers for padding. I shipped it out overnight UPS, which cost me around $45 bucks. I called Nick the next afternoon and he said he was programming as we speak and was going to ship it out overnight later that day. I had it back by day 3. Sent it out on Wed, had it back by Fri.

Installing the ECU was just as easy as taking it out. Nothing else to do. Drove the car immediately. Wow! Huge difference! I didn’t want to stop driving it. However, I did notice something. It had a weird hesitation of idle. Almost like a hiccup. I would step on the throttle and it would start to move, then the hiccup, then wooosh take off. Weird. I called Nick T. immediately. He was baffled. I tried changing spark plugs, getting new gas, checking hoses, etc. No change. So, Nick sent a call tag and he reprogrammed it and had it back to me in a day later. Reinstalled it, perfecto! No problems. Weird. Nick said it must have had something bad with the program transfer. It was in no way a painful process, and I understand that things happen sometimes. The true measure of a good quality business is not if they encounter problems, but it’s how they respond to problems. Nick responded swiftly, without hesitation, with a smile in his voice, and without cost to me. Great job Nick!

GenuineSaab.com
I would highly recommend www.genuinesaab.com for anyone who wants to modify and customize their Saab! The know their stuff. Nick Talliaferro is highly knowledgable and is constantly developing new products and testing out new ways to increase performance. I enjoy reading his blogs on the projects on their website and I will definitely buy from them again, soon! Maybe stage xxx? Great Job Genuine Saab!

Performance
I did have the car on the dyno before the tune and the hp was right inline with stock numbers. 158 hp at the wheels. 176 lb ft at the wheels. Not impressive. Unfortunately the shop I used for the dyno is not open anymore. So, for now there’s no “after” dyno.

Performance with the tune was impressive. Now I’ve never driven an Aero, but this is what it’s got to feel like. This is what a turbo car is supposed to feel like. Of idle acceleration is decent, but just off idle there is a high increase in boost. 15 psi in fact. Before the tune it was more like 12 psi. I know that the T8 computer limits boost in first gear for traction reasons as well as transmission longevity. But when second gear hits, whoa! Second gear is when this car really takes off! Boost is increased to about 23 psi and the car accelerates effortlessly. I feel a slight pull from the steering wheel, I believe this is called torque steer. It’s not bad, but noticeable. Acceleration continues at about the same rate up through third gear and beyond, as I made note today at the drag strip. Traction is not a problem until you turn off the traction control. Then the tires break loose at will in first gear.

Going from stock to Stage 1 tune is like comparing the difference of driving a V6 car and V8 car of similar size and shape. I’ve driven lots of cars in my life so that to me is a great explanation. But if you don’t drive a lot of cars, just know this, there is no mistaking the difference from before to after this tune! Very nice.

Power is linear (no pun) and smooth throughout. There is the initial snap when the turbo kicks in, but when accelerating down the “race track” the power is smooth and controllable. When driving in an economy style, you don’t even know it’s tuned. In fact, my wife didn’t even know. Except when I told her to “goose it” and well, then she looked at me and was like “What did you do?” She liked it, not as much as me though.

Drag Strip Testing
I was able to get to the drag strip today and was very pleased. I did not race my car before the tune because I knew it wasn’t going to impress me. But I was impressed today! My first run in automatic shift mode I ended up making my best pass of the day.

The official times/stats are as follows:

Reaction 0.2440 yuk
60 ft 2.2872 yuk
1/8 ET 9.8310 ok
1/8 MPH 70.53 ok
1/4 ET 15.0998 nice
1/4 MPH 94.95 wow

Ok, now before you go crazy on me and analyze the data, I’m not a racer, but I have raced before. I have owned several cars that were faster including a 1989 5.0 Mustang LX that ran 13.90’s on street tires. I am a fan of all cars and read a lot about them. So its fair to say that I know a little bit, just a little. These are damn good numbers! I think this car could break 15 seconds with a better driver. With a 2.0 liter engine and auto tranny! And 95 mph in the ¼ mile is nice! This means there is potential to be even faster. Yes there are faster cars out there, but this is just a small part of what the Saab does well. Certainly with the tune the car is right on par with a lot of other high end performance luxury 4 cyl sedans. I’m not smoking any WRX’s at the track, but I did hang with a big block 74 Nova, and smoked a turbo Civic and a V8 Mustang 2. Not bad, not bad at all.

I would like to get the “after” dyno done, just for comparison sake. But overall I am very pleased. I won’t be selling my Saab any time soon!

Conclusion
Overall this car accomplishes all of my goals for a daily driver. It’s quick. It’s sexy. It’s comfortable. It gets great mileage. It has 4 doors and a decent back seat for my kids. It’s a safe car. It’s reliability track record is good. It’s lineage is good. It has a good trunk for luggage. It can tow a small trailer. It can haul gear on top with a roof rack. And it’s customizable. What more could you want. I call this a great car that does most things well. It’s not a top performer in any category, but it performs better than average in most categories.

If you are considering purchasing a Saab, great! Welcome to the club. I suggest doing your research on this forum and test driving several. Also, test drive all other cars in it’s class for comparison. If the Saab is for you, you’ll know. You may not be able to pinpoint why, but you’ll know that it’s for you. If its not for you, well, that’s ok too. I own a Grand Cherokee, a Dakota, and a Ram 2500. I’ve driven Fords, Dodges, Jeeps, Pontiacs, Subarus, and Cadillacs. I’m not a “Saab Only” guy. But I will tell you this…. the day I drove the Saab, I knew it was for me! I couldn’t explain it, but I knew it was for me.
 

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I'm in the same boat, mate.
Bought my 2.0t and fell in love with it but after a while
I thought... maybe I should have bought "T" or Aero...
Anyway I'm getting my tune this summer, hopefully, either
Nordic or JZW. Thank you for your input :cool:
 

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nice write up, everything was explained very well, my fiance has an 04 linear but it's a standard kind of makes me want to talk her into getting a tune haha
 

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Great write up. I was in the same boat as you. Being 24 at the time of buying my Saab, I was shopping around and getting insurance quotes on different cars. Saw the 9-3 Aero at a local dealer, liked the looks, liked the stats, decided I'd give it a test drive, loved the car. Looked up insurance costs and the cost was about half of any other car I was looking at.

I got a car that was fully loaded, sporty, comfortable, good on gas, and at a great real cost (inc insurance, gas, and the cost of buying the car at the time) I couldn't have asked for anything better.

One of the coolest things about it is that when I let my friends drive it they become immediate Saab fans.

Today I'm getting my BSR exhaust put on. Next month I'll be sending in my ECU for Nordic Stage 2. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Nice! Wish I had the Aero :(

You'll have to get to the dyno to have it checked after the tune. I'd like to compare the Linear vs Aero with Nordic Stage 2.... Hmmm

Let us know how you like with the tune!
 

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Durability after ECU performance mods

I have a 2005 Aero with only 30K miles on it. I have watched this forum over the years with interest regarding ECU performance. I like the Aero a lot but, like many others, find the low end torque missing (hate the indecision between 1st and 2nd gear that the lack of bottom end creates) and would like an occasional kick in the pants sprint. I am an easy driver who does not want to destroy clutch, gearbox, etc due to a performance increase. I havent seen any posts on long term durability after performance increase. Any comments?
 

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Some have had issues with stock clutches, I had to get mine replaced on stock tune even (but I think that was due to the original driver of the car). We also had a member throw a piston, but I think that was more a case of a defect than a result of the tune.

There are a lot of people who have been running stage 1 tunes for a long time without issue, I've only been stg 2 for about 5k now, so my experience isn't as noteworthy.. although I haven't had any durability (other than tires...) issues yet knock on wood.
 

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exelent write up, ive been waiting to read a good write up for the small "t" auto tunes from nordic.....lets just say ill be getting it shortly haha thanks for the insight man!! awesome review, helps ALOT! :)
 

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almost forgot to ask, how many miles were on ur 05 at the time of the tune, i have 122K curretnly and am worried that that might be too high for a tune.......
 

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I got my Nordic Stage 2 tune done at about 112k miles. Currently at over 127k miles and still going strong. Clutch was already on its way out when I got the tune, so I wound up replacing that shortly afterwards. Just be wary, the car may seem OK, but the tune will definitely show you any weak areas if you're pushing the car even slightly.
 

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I got my Nordic Stage 2 tune done at about 112k miles. Currently at over 127k miles and still going strong. Clutch was already on its way out when I got the tune, so I wound up replacing that shortly afterwards. Just be wary, the car may seem OK, but the tune will definitely show you any weak areas if you're pushing the car even slightly.
Thanks tons for the responses- exactly what I was looking for. My fear is that even treading lightly on the new power created by the mods will have a down stream ripple effects on stock clutch, gearbox, etc. My local dealer said that on almost every car with these type mods he has seen significant drive train problems/wear has been a constant problem. Over stated on his part I am sure, but still a relevant observation. Also, so I dont get blasted ;-) I understand that you are seeking improved performance and in any situation there are trade-offs, choices made. For all the potential wear and tear I am sure those with the mods love the fantastic performance and believe the trade-offs worth while.
 

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Thanks for the write up ;ol;
It was exactly what I needed to read to get me on board with Nordic. Sounds silly, but that name sounds fierce :cheesy:
 

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The thing about these cars i hate is with stage 3's and pushing the stock turbo to the max we run a mid / high 14.... Dsm's and srt4's can do that but two second faster... :(
Ya, I know what you mean, I'm part of DSM Canada. DSM's go stupid fast off stock stuff and a tune.
 

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Question?

The title of the article says Nordic stage 2 however the article says stage 1. Which is it? I have stage two but have been having multiple unrelated engine/bypass problems and would like to know the specs.
 
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