What is it?
This car is the UK market entry-level Saab 9-5, the model that needs to crack open the hard-fought corporate market for premium executive cars.
This car is priced to within a few hundred pounds of the entry-level 170bhp diesel Audi A6, but offers a slightly plusher spec (heated seats and front and rear parking sensors are standard) and a bit more space.
After struggling for years with the ancient first-generation 9-5, Saab is looking for conquest sales of all premium brand owners Audi drivers are thought to be the most likely to switch to Saab ownership.
It’s powered by the 2.0-litre, 157bhp, turbodiesel engine familiar from the Vauxhall Insignia, but the motor has undergone extensive changes to improve the below-par refinement.
Saab’s engineers have added extra insulation behind the dashboard and sound deadening in the oil pan as well changing the fuel pump’s mounting bracket.
Changes have also been made to the scissor gears (which work between the two camshafts) and the offset of the piston pins have been tweaked. Finally, the engine’s air intake system has been further isolated from the body structure.
What's it like?
The result is a significant improvement over the installation of the engine in the Vauxhall. Although it doesn’t match the refinement of Volkswagen’s CRD oil-burner, in any situation other than all-out acceleration it is relatively muted.
Saab has also tweaked the mapping of the electronic throttle, which helps deliver a most satisfying swell of engine torque. Combined with the slick gearshift and clutch action, it’s quite rewarding to row the 9-5 around on the mid-range surge.
Although this 9-5 uses the same MacPherson strut and multi-link set-up as the Insignia, Saab engineers have specified their own springs, dampers, bushes and anti-roll bars. One of the biggest improvements are new top mounts for the front struts which greatly reduce the amount of vibration and harshness that is fed through to the steering wheel rim.