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

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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andrepaul999 22 July 2010

Re: Saab 9-5 2.0T Aero

Nobody wants to see a Car company go down, and jobs with it.

But Saab have to be realistic about their chances, it always makes me chuckle when l see headlines like ' Saab takes on Audi '

The only people who like to compare themselves to Audi are Saab themselves, again its not realistic as Audi are so so far ahead of Saab.

Really Saab should be comparing themselves to the likes of Honda,Volvo maybe VW and (shock horror) Skoda.

These semi-prestige brands are more in line with the tech and pricing and percieved value of the Saab range.

Its been proven that Skoda have taken market share from Saab in europe

So Saab... forget Audi its never going to happen... get real!

Paul123 21 July 2010

Re: Saab 9-5 2.0T Aero

andrepaul999 wrote:

Paul123 wrote:
from 587 to 704 units, giving it a 0.36 market share for the month.

Is this something to brag about? So an extra 117 units in June, fantastic.

How many Saab dealers in the UK? How many Saab 95's were registered as demonstrators in June? (maybe 80)

Add a few pre-registered cars and fleet demonstrators into the equation and you are probably left with a handful of cars that customers actually bought with their own cash ...literally

Lets look at Aug and Sept figures to find out where the land really lies

I wasn't trying to make any definitive point about Saab's UK sales - simply that registrations rose in June. I'm not sure when Saab dealers began registering new 9-5 demonstrators - if it was last month, then that would obviously account for much of that increase, as you say.

And I agree with you ... once we get into Aug/Sept and beyond, we'll get a better picture of what's really happening. All I was trying to get across was that by citing only Saab's January-to-June's halving of sales, a previous poster was being a bit too selective. Or maybe I'm being biased? Perhaps. I just want Saab to succeed...

disco.stu 21 July 2010

Re: Saab 9-5 2.0T Aero

Agreed. Monthly year-on-year results comparing 2010 to 2009 are always going to be ropey, considering the changes in the marketplace over the last 18 months. And for a company like Saab, who have been riding a rollercoaster for a few years, it's certainly not definitive. But hopefully the upward trend continues.