New Saab 9.5 aims to rival the
Germans in the premium car market

After a period of uncertainty about its future the famous Swedish car manufacturer was sold by its parent GM in January of last year to the Spyker Motor company securing it would seem its future. A move welcomed by the many avid Saab fans. This new 9-5 was pretty much fully developed by then but I must say the Spyker Motor company has done a fine job of completing the new car.

After a period of uncertainty about its future the famous Swedish car manufacturer was sold by its parent GM in January of last year to the Spyker Motor company securing it would seem its future. A move welcomed by the many avid Saab fans. This new 9-5 was pretty much fully developed by then but I must say the Spyker Motor company has done a fine job of completing the new car.

Road tested by Hugh Maguire

Saab are well known for their continued efforts to produce cars that lead the field in safety terms and this latest 9-5 is no different. The all new 9-5 will be selling its safety virtues but also its many other abilities as a rival to the establishment such as the new BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class.

The new 9-5 is available as a four door saloon powered by either a 2.0 TiD diesel turbo producing 160 bhp, a 2.0 TTid diesel turbo producing 190 bhp or a 2.0 litre turbo Bio Power model. In essence there are five models available with three trim levels, Linear, Vector and Aero, from the 160bhp 2.0 TiD to the 220bhp 2.0 turbo in manual or auto. Prices start at a competitive €36,500 for the 2.0 TiD Linear model. This week’s test car is the 2.0 TiD Vector.

First Impressions

The new look is still very much a Saab I am glad to say but with quite a contemporary touch. The new car looks more dynamic with a particularly impressive side and rear profile. It is a very distinctive car that has real presence and class on the road.

Behind The Wheel

The new cabin is an ergonomic masterpiece. The dashboard is a model of clarity with every instrument, button or lever within easy reach of the driver. Saab also retained the ‘Night Panel’as seen in previous models. This system allows the driver to switch-off all the instruments except the speedo at night thus reducing eye fatigue. Should say the fuel come close to the last few gallons that gauge will of course illuminate to inform the driver. In practice I found this system works very well indeed. I found the electric seats and driving position to be excellent, with plenty of variations of seat/steering wheel adjustment available to suit most sizes.

All new 9-5 models come equipped as standard with a multiplicity of airbags, ABS brakes with brake assist, Cornering Brake Control, Saab active front head restraints, ESP, and three point seatbelts on all rear seats, electronic park brake, hill start assist, 3x rear ISOFIX., Electronic rear child locks, rain sensor wipers, auto lights, auto dipping interior mirror, and a 9 speaker stereo with Aux, MP3 integration and USB ports. In addition dual zone climate control, multi-function steering wheel, follow me home lights, cabin air filter, electric windows, remote locking, and cruise control is standard on all cars. Indeed a host of items that could easily add a couple of thousand euro to the cost of its German rivals to equip to the same level. The Vector model adds, 5-spoke 17 inch alloys, Bluetooth, Park Assist, heated seats, and full leather upholstery.

Overall then the cabin of the new 9-5 is a very nice place to be indeed, right down to the luxurious touch of the soft green mood lighting.

Performance

The 160 bhp 2.0 TiD engine comes from the General Motors stable and in this case is mated to the standard 6-speed gearbox. I must say I found that it performed very well indeed with lively acceleration and a decent turn of speed. Furthermore mid range it has bags of torque making for easy and safe overtaking. For those of you that want a bit more power there is the option of the 190 bhp 2.0 TTiD but frankly I wouldn’t bother this one goes very well. Maybe the only downside is the diesel clatter at idle. Unfortunately it cannot match the super smooth BMW 4 cylinder diesel in this area. Nevertheless on the economy front it does, returning an average consumption of just 6.9 litres per 100km over my 700 or so km behind the wheel, giving the new 9-5 a range of about 1,000 km between refuels.

Road Behaviour

The new 9-5 is a quantum leap forward from the somewhat dull-to-drive previous model. This car can truly carry the mantle of Sports Saloon with pride. The handling is razor sharp, which allied to a very precise steering makes for a car that is very rewarding to drive. Whether on wet or dry roads the new 9-5 is surefooted and stable. Refinement levels are equally impressive with wind and road noise all well suppressed. Accommodation is good both front and rear and there is a decent sized boot.

Verdict

This new Saab 9-5 is a very nice car. The new styling works well, the fresh new interior looks and feels good and it is a better, more involving car to drive than the old model. Added to which this 160 bhp diesel turbo costs just €156 to tax and as I commented it just sips diesel.

The new Saab 9-5 range starts off as previously mentioned at €36,500. The 9-5 Vector as tested costs €39,500.

This is really a very fine car and a true rival to the German offerings but many may perceive the price as being just too close the allure of the BMW or E-Class Mercedes even though one must remember that to equip either of the two German cars to the level of the Saab would add at least a couple of thousand euro to the base price.

Only time will tell. Early signs are that Saab fans love it and it really does deserve to gain conquest sales it is that good.