I figured it could be last chance I’d get to sample one of the oldest cars on sale. The all-new 9-5 arrives early next year replacing the current model, which was launched in 1997. Indeed, only the Ford Ka, Land Rover Defender and Volkswagen Sharan spare the big Saab’s blushes as the oldest car still in production.
Yet despite its pension book, I’ve always had a soft spot for this big machine, being a particular fan of the interior, seats, turbocharged four-cylinder engines and the crash protection.
On the sunny drive from Gothenburg, it still impressed in many ways, though the steering was hopelessly over-light and chassis floaty and unsure of itself. It’s hard to imagine this bruiser being related to the unloved 1995 Vectra, but it is. The chief engineer on the 9-5 project admitted to me the Saab was “35 per cent Vectra”. But I never found out which bits made up the percentage.
The new 9-5 is already done and dusted, and being polished ahead of its launch in less than 12 months’ time. I can tell you that the new car is big and the styling imposing and polished.
As a critical friend of the company, I hope that the new 9-5 finally accelerates out of the cult scene and into the mainstream. It won’t be easy. BMW and Mercedes have new versions of the 5-Series and E-Class approaching – and the 9-5 will only be Saab’s third executive model in 25 years.
The truth is that only a first-rate driving experience will convince executive buyers to finally look seriously at Saab for the first time.