Currently reading: Saab 9-5: The inside story
Everything you need to know about the new Swedish saloon

By the time the new 9-5 is launched, Saab will have waited 13 years to replace the original version of the car. Saab had a new 9-5 for launch in 2005, based on the ‘Premium’ platform (used on the Alfa 159), which was engineered by Saab. But when GM and Fiat ended their partnership, GM insisted that Saab shelve the car.

So next year’s 9-5 (due on sale next Spring) is all new. Although it shares the Insignia’s Epsilon 2 platform, it has a 100mm longer wheelbase, most of which is used to improve rear leg room. The boot is also said to be particularly big.

Unusually, Saab will offer two front suspensions; a standard McPherson strut and the more sophisticated HiPerStrut from the Insignia VXR, which offers better refinement and more accurate steering.

At the rear there’s a four-link suspension and all models have the all-wheel drive Insignia’s more sophisticated axle design. All-wheel drive will be available with the option of a torque-vectoring XWD version.

Saab’s stylists have tried to incorporate the firm’s traditional wrap-around screen in the new 9-5, as well as the distinctive C-pillar, domed roof and flat-topped door window frames. The nose design is taken directly from the Aero-X concept car and the production 9-5 will be marked out by a distinctive ‘lightbar’ running across the rear of the car, between the rear light clusters.

The car’s interior is said to be very close to the 9-4X concept’s, including the central speedo. The only switchgear shared with the Insignia is the column stalks and the headlamp switch.

There’ll be three 2.0-litre diesels on offer; an entry-level unit with 160bhp and under 140g/km, and quicker 160 and 180bhp versions. The entry-level petrol will be a 1.6-litre turbo, with bigger 2.0-litre turbos available. The range-topper is the 2.8-litre V6 turbo, Saab is also working on a hybrid system for the 9-5.

An electric motor sandwiched between the engine and gearbox assists a 1.4-litre petrol turbo, when starting off and under acceleration. It will cut out when the car is cruising, allowing the engine to return fuel economy in the high 40s.

The estate will come towards the end of 2010, Called 9-5 Sport Combi, it uses a similar slanted c-pillar to the current 9-5 estate, but the bulbous rear end is much more modern. Saab is also said to be pondering a hatchback 9-5 in light of the Audi’s A5-based Sportback.

Insiders say that the 9-5 achieved the highest scores in GM customer clinics of any GM car ever. It scored well as both ‘highly appealing’ and ‘innovative’, a mix that is usually very difficult to achieve. Saab is aiming the car directly at Audi’s A6, which it says is judged by potential customers as the most appealing car.

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