With an all-new replacement not expected until 2008, Saab's 9-5 will have to soldier on as flagship for the Swedish firm for some time yet. But to give it a chance, Saab has refreshed the eight year-old design with a new nose and tail and revised interior.

The most dramatic changes are at the front, which gets new headlamps, grille, bumper and modified bonnet. At the back, there are new tail lamps and a new bumper. Body-coloured door handles and new sill covers complete the look.

Inside the 9-5’s distinctive interior has been revamped with simplified climate controls, a new sat-nav system, new instrument faces, new door trims and a new steering wheel.

Details of the technical changes are being kept under wraps until the car's debut at the Frankfurt motor show. However, Autocar understands that the suspension has been modified, including a wider track front and rear.

Power comes from the familiar turbocharged four-cylinder engines and a 150bhp 1.9-litre turbodiesel, the 9-3's V6 turbo petrol won't be fitted due to the extensive re-engineering that would be required. The final touches are being put to the 9-5’s replacement, which will be based on GM’s Epsilon II platform and is likely to be built in Germany.