Quirky exec saloon that’s a strong alternative to the front-drive competition

Our Verdict

Saab 9-5 Sportwagon

Pre-production drive of early Saab 9-5 estate shows it's a car with real promise

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    This is the best example of Saab’s new 9-5 saloon but it continues to be frustratingly short of the mark
  • First Drive

    Saab 9-5 2.0 TTiD Aero

    Range-topping diesel 9-5 looks expensive, but puts in a better performance than its rangemates.

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

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Comments
17

20 July 2010

[quote Autocar]

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 or...Read the full article

[/quote] They say it's good. I've sat in one already, but for me I just wish it had a new nose rather than trying to look like the old 9-5. Don't fancy a 5 Series, A6 or E Class? Surely the Citroen C6 offers unparalled style. Yes I know, it has a few faults but at least it look GREAT. The 9-5 simply looks like an old Saab that's been pumped up. SHAME.

20 July 2010

Dead in the water - £31k AND 194g/km AND 25mpg.

I think that Saabs are brilliant but they can't be serious about asking top beemer money for a front driver that will cost more than a beemer to run.

No 0-60 figure but at 1.8 tonnes it's unlikely to crack 7 seconds. Or perhaps that's why it's so thirsty - overgeared?

Pity - at £27/28k it makes sense.

20 July 2010

[quote DSP123]Pity - at £27/28k it makes sense.[/quote]

They'll be available at those prices within 6 months though so it shouldn't be too much of an issue.

20 July 2010

[quote DSP123]Pity - at £27/28k it makes sense.[/quote]

The 9-5 2.0T Vector SE (same engine, one trim level down from this) is listed at £28,195. Certainly I think that sounds like better value, given that you don't lose out too much on standard equipment between the two levels (full rather than half-leather, electric seats and 1inch bigger wheels seem to be the main difference).

Do really like the look of the new 9-5 in photos, still haven't had a chance to see one in the flesh though.

20 July 2010

I think The poster you was quoting was referring to the high OTR price and CO2<218g auto> for company company car buyers.

£30K for a 1900kg 2.0l vauxhall in a fat suit? pathetic saab


20 July 2010

too heavy, too big, too thirsty

maybe a bigger engine that didnt have to work so hard would be a lot better

20 July 2010

[quote nimmler]£30K for a 1900kg 2.0l vauxhall in a fat suit? pathetic saab[/quote]

Did you think that up all by yourself?

Clever.

20 July 2010

I do wonder at Autocar's test mpg figures.

My dad has a current generation 9-5 estate with the 2.3 Turbo. He carries around loads of kit, and doesn't drive slowly yet is averaging 36mpg, and more on long runs.

So how on earth can Autocar only manage 25mpg in a newer, less powerful car?

20 July 2010

weight

20 July 2010

It is sad to say but if i did i would buy the Insignia and save a lot of money.Saab's new owners have a lot on their plate

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