slightly smaller wheels for a Saab 9-3?

I need new tires for my 1999 9-3 5-door coupe. I drive the car gently, but I like a sporty feel for exit ramps/sharp curves, etc.
I'd like more low-end torque - the car feels a bit slow to get going (automatic transmission). Would it be a bad idea for me to switch from 195/60r15s to 195/55r15s as a way of getting a sportier ride with tires that are slightly easier to turn and lighter? This way I wouldn't have to go to larger wheels or upgrade my breaks. Should I be concerned that the smaller tires have a lower load rating (85) than the OEM tires (87)?
I'm assuming that the smaller tires would only make things easier on the transmission and suspension - not throw it all out of whack. I'm also guessing that any decrease in gas milage while cruising at highway speeds (due to higher tire-rpms) would be offeset by having an easier time in stop-and-go traffic (I live in New York City).
I am obsessing over nothing? I know the difference in total diameter is only about .75 inches (2cm). Or will I end up squealing all over the nighborhood and become know as the guy with the skimpy tires?
TIA
-Chris
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Icarus Q. Anybody wrote:

Go with a 205/55r15. You'll get more tread width on the road and the diameter will nearly match, so no speedometer / final drive problems.
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"Icarus Q. Anybody" wrote:

You can do the wheel/tire calculations here:
http://www.miata.net/garage/tirecalcold.html

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"Icarus Q. Anybody" wrote:

The amount of tread in contact with the road should be all but identical so they won't be any easier to turn.
Is your power assisted steering not working btw ?
If you're looking at the change in tyre diameter to give a performance boost by effectively adjusting the final drive ratio I rather think you're going to be disappointed.
Graham
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Power steering is working. Why do you ask?
-Chris
On Sat, 27 Aug 2005 17:01:39 +0100, Pooh Bear

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I think he was confused by your use of the "easier to turn" statement.
Realistically a 2cm difference in diameter will have no perceptible effect on performance, all it'll do is throw off your speedo/odo a tad. Your speedo would be way off before the car felt significantly quicker.
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James Sweet wrote:

Exactly.
I'd guess that the effective ratio would need to change by at least 15% before a real difference was noticed.
Graham
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"Icarus Q. Anybody" wrote:

I'm puzzled why you feel you need less turning effort on the wheel.
A bit of 'feedback' is considered a good thing by sporty drivers. If the steering is 'over assisted' you can get into real trouble fast since you won't have a 'feel' for the road.
Graham
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"Icarus Q. Anybody" wrote:

The closest match would be 205/50/16, then the diameter would only be reduced by 0.36cm. (see tire calculator). But you will need 16" wheels. However, this is the normal route if you want to fit lower profiles. Yes, Saab wheels are expensive and non-original after market wheels don't look the part for a Saab. However, you could look out for special offers at Saab dealers, even part exchange your existing wheels.
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Johannes wrote:

Ebay even maybe ?
No idea where the OP lives but it's worth checking specialist dealers for 'one-off' deals for a set of special wheels too.
Graham
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Pooh Bear wrote:

That was how I got Saab 16" for my 9000, I part exchanged the old'ones.
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On Sat, 27 Aug 2005 20:49:30 GMT, Johannes

Good idea. Hadn't thought of it. Did you need to get new brakes as well due to the larger wheels? And did the dealer give you any choice of tire, or is it strictly OEM?
Thanks,
Chris
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"Icarus Q. Anybody" wrote:

No changes to brakes. The overall diameter is almost the same if you get 205/50/16. The tires are up to you, whatever you can find that suits your wallet. Maybe you can haggle with the dealer, who knows? You will get a slightly sharper handling, but in most cases it will just look cooler (pimp my ride).

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Icarus Q. Anybody wrote:

Hi,
I would leave it as is. When I drove a new 9-3 automatic I found it very lethargic compared to my 9000 (both 2.0l LPT). However, I felt the automatic was very much geared for city driving, smoothness AND for fuel economy. If I wanted it to perform faster I had to really press my foot to the floor most of the time.
Does your auto box have a sport mode? Have you tried using it?
Regards Charles
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On Sat, 27 Aug 2005 20:59:07 +0100, "Charles C."

Automatics are definitely lame. I sold a manual Honda and got this 9-3 because my girlfriend couldn't drive a manual (barely drives an automatic). She also felt like the Honda was a tin can contending with all the SUVs on the road here in NY. I want her to drive more so I don't have to drive everywhere all the time.
I'm just not used to the sluggish starts from stop lights I guess (though it's fun to be able to keep up with 80 mph traffic for a change).
I tried sport mode and honestly couldn't tell any difference.
-Chris
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Icarus Q. Anybody wrote:

To feel the difference in "sport mode" one only needs to press the accelerator down harder.
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Charles C. wrote:

Yopu are generallizing Charles, based on your experience with LPTs. I own 2 '98 FPTs (a 900SE 5 speed and a 900S automagic) and neither of them are lethargic in the least. The SE came with 16" wheels and 205/50-16 tires yet the s model came with the skimpy 195/60-15s. The ride is certainly softer over the potholes on the taller profile tires, but the turn in is obviously hampered.
Performance is not *always* an engine factor...
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"Icarus Q. Anybody" wrote:

Truth is.... If you want fast acceleration you should drive a manual. Far more control too.
Graham
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