Entry-level 9-5 is spacious, sophisticated in looks and has a fine cockpit

Our Verdict

Saab 9-5 Sportwagon

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What is it?

This car is the UK market entry-level Saab 9-5, the model that needs to crack open the hard-fought corporate market for premium executive cars.

This car is priced to within a few hundred pounds of the entry-level 170bhp diesel Audi A6, but offers a slightly plusher spec (heated seats and front and rear parking sensors are standard) and a bit more space.

After struggling for years with the ancient first-generation 9-5, Saab is looking for conquest sales of all premium brand owners Audi drivers are thought to be the most likely to switch to Saab ownership.

It’s powered by the 2.0-litre, 157bhp, turbodiesel engine familiar from the Vauxhall Insignia, but the motor has undergone extensive changes to improve the below-par refinement.

Saab’s engineers have added extra insulation behind the dashboard and sound deadening in the oil pan as well changing the fuel pump’s mounting bracket.

Changes have also been made to the scissor gears (which work between the two camshafts) and the offset of the piston pins have been tweaked. Finally, the engine’s air intake system has been further isolated from the body structure.

What's it like?

The result is a significant improvement over the installation of the engine in the Vauxhall. Although it doesn’t match the refinement of Volkswagen’s CRD oil-burner, in any situation other than all-out acceleration it is relatively muted.

Saab has also tweaked the mapping of the electronic throttle, which helps deliver a most satisfying swell of engine torque. Combined with the slick gearshift and clutch action, it’s quite rewarding to row the 9-5 around on the mid-range surge.

Although this 9-5 uses the same MacPherson strut and multi-link set-up as the Insignia, Saab engineers have specified their own springs, dampers, bushes and anti-roll bars. One of the biggest improvements are new top mounts for the front struts which greatly reduce the amount of vibration and harshness that is fed through to the steering wheel rim.

Should I buy one?

Perhaps the best way of summing up the car up is this. Imagine it’s the end of a long week, it’s raining hard and you are 150 miles away from home. This 9-5 would be a great way to do the journey.

It’s quiet, has a smooth, loping gait, decent performance and is fine place to sit over long hours.

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Join the debate

Comments
46

2 June 2010

I must say I am very impressed. Yesterdays review of the 2.8 petrol highlighted the high pricing and expensive road tax. This model seems amply powered, cheaper to run whilst still retaining the desirability. I'd say the 26 grand is a much more realistic sum for such a car. It'll always be a niche model, but I'd go for the Saab before any of its competitors.

2 June 2010

HH, as always you exhibit the understanding of Saab that most of your colleagues do not. Saab is not , nor does it aspire to be 'the ultimate driving machine', it is very much about being the car you would chose to drive so that you get out the other end safe, refreshed, uncrumpled and de-stressed. I think this is areal turning point for Saab and wish it every success. Fleet residuals will be key to value for money, intersting in Sweden dealer network is guaranteeing 3 year residual value, maybe Saab GB will follow suite?

DKW

2 June 2010

It looks very GM - presumably the design is largely unchanged since they separated. Looks best in light colours, like silver and white - unusual as most modern cars look better in dark colours.

It's good to see that years of under investment and lack of inspiration haven't stopped them from producing a car which creates a decent first impression - here's hoping the engineering integrity bears the test of time.

2 June 2010

saab 9-5 2.0 tdi 158bhp 1725kgs 0-62mph 9.9s 139g/km £26,495 53mpg

old 9-5 1.9 tdi 147bhp 1530kgs 0-62mph 9.5s 174g/km £20,245 44mpg

good improvement in emissions and economy, but over £6k more than old model.

No saving even on high milege, even factoring tax cost in.

They wont be able to cliam that this model is cheaper to run in overall cost than the model it replaces..

which is stupid.

2 June 2010

It is a much larger vehicle though, to be fair to SAAB. It would be nice if they could have made the vehicle larger without increasing the weight, but it seems that modern GM platforms are very heavy.

2 June 2010

This one should easily be the best-seler in Europe. It strikes all the right chords for an executive saloon: Poise, refinement, space, sophistication and low emissions. It won't light up an enthusist's fire, but at least it's distinctive, which is a big plus in my book vs the hordes of A6/5-series/E-classes on the road.

2 June 2010

This model looks much more convincing than the top of the range petrol . Id like to see a comparison test against a 170 ps diesel Superb and Audi A6 . Or even better wait for the estate to come along and re compare .

Strange to think that when the last 9 - 5 was created people would have laughed if you benchmarked it against a Skoda . Sure shows how some makers rise as others fall .

Come on Auto car give us a comparison in the future .

2 June 2010

Saab 9-5 2.0 TiD 5008x1868 mm, 1725 kg

BMW 730D 5072x1902 mm, 1935 kg

Audi A6 2.0 TDI 4927x1855 mm, 1610 kg

Merc E200 CDI 4868x1854 mm, 1720 kg

Can everybody please quit moaning about the Saab being overweight, thanks.

2 June 2010

[quote Amanitin]Can everybody please quit moaning about the Saab being overweight, thanks.[/quote] If it makes you feel any better we moan about any car that is perceived as overweight, not just SAAB...

2 June 2010

[quote Amanitin]

Saab 9-5 2.0 TiD 5008x1868 mm, 1725 kg

BMW 730D 5072x1902 mm, 1935 kg

Audi A6 2.0 TDI 4927x1855 mm, 1610 kg

Merc E200 CDI 4868x1854 mm, 1720 kg

Can everybody please quit moaning about the Saab being overweight, thanks.

[/quote] I couldn't agree with you more. I just don't see why people care so much, I mean this car is quite efficient, quite fast and quite low co2, so it cant be too bad. I don't have the slightest clue how much my car weighs and I have no interest in finding out.

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