Geneva concept runs on pure bioethanol; produces 300bhp from 2.0 litres
15 February 2007

It's an unlikely vessel, but this Saab 9-5 Estate could be the catalyst for a new generation of small-engined, high-output, turbocharged sports cars that run on pure bioethanol fuel.

This is the 9-5 BioPower 100 concept and, although it looks like an ordinary load-lugger, Saab claims that it's powered by the first production-based engine to wring the full performance potential out of near-carbon-neutral E100 bioethanol fuel.

Saab is already Europe's leader when it comes to selling bioethanol-powered cars, with the 9-5 BioPower. That car runs on E85 bioethanol, which is mixed with 15 per cent regular unleaded petrol before it's delivered to the pump.

The regular 9-5 BioPower can run on either E85, or regular unleaded. The BioPower 100, however demonstrates what's possible when you optimise an engine to run only on pure E100 biofuel.

By modifying the engine management system and the engine's internal components, and running higher levels of turbo boost and a higher compression ratio, Saab has squeezed nearly 300bhp from its 2.0-litre BioPower engine, and 295lb ft of torque.

That's enough to send this front-wheel drive 9-5 estate to 62mph in just 6.6 seconds, and yet it's also as close to carbon-neutral as any biofuel combustion engine could get.

The 9-5 BioPower 100 will be shown at March's Geneva motor show as an example of how bioethanol can play a part in the downsizing of engines without reductions in performance.

We wouldn't be surprised, however, if the philosophy bound up in its powerplant is picked up by any number of small sports car makers. After all, if we can have great driver's cars that don't guzzle fossil fuels, why shouldn't we?

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