What is it?
This is Saab’s new mid-range flagship, the 9-5 2.0T, which carries the company flame for light-pressure turbo engines, a technology the Swedes can proudly claim to have first championed in the 1970s.
We’re already familiar with this soft-turbo 2.0T — the engine features in the Vauxhall Insignia where it shares the same 217bhp and 258lb ft of output. Justifiably it could be tagged a Saab engine, since development was in Sweden under GM’s old global engineering organisation.
What's it like?
Like the best light-pressure turbos, it mimics the easy-driving characteristic of a diesel while offering better refinement and performance. The price, though, is paid at the pumps; on test we averaged 25mpg in the 2.0T and 40mpg-plus in the diesel.
That was in a manual-equipped car, which is the obvious choice of transmission since it enlivens the hefty 9-5 by exploiting the 2.0T’s strong mid-range torque. In contrast the optional £1475 six-speed auto tranny does the opposite, sapping power and blunting mid-range performance to an alarming degree.
We’d also say the firmer Aero spec sports chassis/19in wheel combo suits the 2.0T manual best. The Aero is nuggety, but easier to live with than the standard chassis, which suffers the fidgety ride of early Vauxhall Insignias.
Worth mentioning is the 2.0T’s specific combination of front/rear axle designs — struts and an H-Arm multilink. This higher-spec rear axle, shared with the 2.8T XWD, is said to resist cornering forces better than the simpler multi-link standard on diesel 9-5s.
We’re also hoping that Saab is right about the head-up display (HUD) fitted as standard to the 9-5. Two test cars suffered from alarming glare directed back into the driver’s eyes from the HUD projector and blamed on pre-prod windscreens that lacked a critical reflective coating. Saab has to be correct because it’s hard to believe a production car could go on sale with this potentially dangerous fault.
Otherwise the Saab 9-5 is a pleasing place to spend time, the cockpit is full of character and the rear legroom generous.
Should I buy one?
Overall this 9-5 hits enough buttons to excite Saab fans and tempt Audi and Volvo owners in its direction, but is not sufficiently sophisticated to challenge the Jag/BMW/Merc stranglehold on the exec market. A stimulating alternative, though.
Saab 9-5 2.0T Aero
Price: £31,195 (£33,345 as tested); Top speed: 149mph (auto: 146mph); 0-60mph: 7.6sec (8.2sec auto); Economy: 33.6mpg (auto 30.0mpg); CO2: 194g/km (auto: 218g/km); Kerbweight: 1885kg (auto: 1910kg); Engine: four-cylinder in-line, single-turbo, 1998cc, petrol; Power: 217bhp at 5300rpm; Torque: 258lbft at 2500rpm; Gearbox: Six-speed manual; Fuel tank: 70 litres; Boot capacity: 515 litres