Is there a better rear than the Saab 9-5’s? Clamping eyes on it is to be reminded how much we car lovers lost when it was pulled a decade ago as Saab went bust.
The 9-5 came in for some harsh criticism at its launch in 2010 (testers bemoaned its pattery ride, wallowy handling and poor noise isolation), but all that’s forgotten when you see one today. The fact is it has future classic written all over it, for three reasons: it was Saab’s last hurrah, a defiant finger at a General Motors prepared to let it go; it’s handsome, beautifully made and classy; and it’s vanishingly rare. As an aside, it’s also roomy, well equipped and well built.
There was also a 9-5 estate, but the UK only received the saloon, with its aforementioned rear.
On the petrol side were three turbocharged units: a 180bhp 1.6-litre four-cylinder, a 220bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder and a 296bhp 2.8-litre V6 sourced from Holden. As for the diesels, there was the 158bhp TiD and the 186bhp TTiD, these 2.0-litre four-pot units based on a Fiat block with a Saab head. Don’t pass on the 1.6 petrol if you find one, because it’s strong and deceptively quick. The diesels are gruff and noisy but economical and quick – particularly the 2.0 TTiD.
With regular maintenance, they will go the distance, too. We found a 2011 2.0 TTiD Aero with 108,000 miles, a full service history and a fresh timing belt and water pump for £5950. That’s serious value. We would have made it our ‘One we found’ choice but for the fact that the 2.0T petrol is the pick of the engines, being smooth and powerful.
By the way, regarding the particulate filter on the diesels, it should give no trouble, because it’s tucked up close to the exhaust manifold, where it gets nice and hot and therefore doesn’t clog up.
Versions of the 9-5 fitted with Saab’s XWD four-wheel drive system had an innovative rear suspension system that was claimed to improve ride and handling (eventually, Saab did tweak the standard set-up, too). To this, the 2.8T added GM’s HiPer Strut system at the front to sharpen the handling and improve steering feel. This version of the 9-5 is extremely rare and pricey.