How seductive are the memories of times long gone: of times we might have lived through. So an historical perspective is useful when attempting to place a legend in context. The Saab name is legendary for various reasons. You’ll probably recognise the name for the values attached to its rallying history in the hands of the great Erik Carlson, Stig Blomqvist and Per Eklund. Of one thing we can be sure - Saab’s products were quite amazing in their day and thankfully, they still are. Having been thrown a safety net and saved from oblivion by Dutch supercar maker Spyker, when they bought the brand from General Motors, the question is, ’will Saab now soar to new success or struggle?’ The new 9-5 in the flesh looks slick, sleek, well groomed and - thankfully - unmistakably Saab, despite having been designed during G.M. ownership and using the new sophisticated Insignia platform - which means there’s lots of space inside to stretch out in the tastefully appointed interior with it’s quality fixtures and fittings. From the outside discreet, understated and confidently adult, it’s the very antonym of ostentatious: an imposing and dignified looking car well able to do the job for which it was designed. At rest it oozes poise, purpose and most of all, that indefinable something, without which any car is a mere lump of soulless metal. So - I’m pleased to report that even in these dour days of the economy Saab equals visual appeal and driver satisfaction, which surely will equal ’success’. And that success is so important because upon it might rest the survival of the marque. The 9-5 range starts at £26,695 for the 1.6 petrol turbo and rises to £37,795 for the 4WD 2.8 V6 300bhp twin turbo. Tested with the 160PS 2.0 litre turbo diesel with optional 6 speed automatic transmission and in Vector trim which gives such luxuries as heated leather and textile seats, climate control and cruise control and costs £28,035 - this version is proving to be most popular. Understandably so because it offers a good combination of performance and economy for such a big car. 130mph+ is attainable and an overall fuel consumption figure of 41.5mpg is quoted for the automatic. Make no mistake - this is a very good car indeed, but in some areas it’s slightly behind the likes of Mercedes ’C’ Class and Audi’s A6. There isn’t quite the level of refinement you get with the German marques but that would only really be noticed in ’back to back’ comparison drives. The turbo diesel performs very well indeed and with Saab’s mastery of turbocharging, there’s walloping torque where it matters, enabling safe and rapid overtaking in situations where the competition might be compromised. You do know it’s a diesel though, when working the engine hard and there’s just a hint of ’gruffness’ under strong acceleration if truth be told - not enough to discourage such use, but maybe enough to give a nit-picking anorak with rabbit ears something to latch on to. Ride quality is good enough to swoosh you sweetly along - but it’s not quite ’magic carpet’. It’s a well-controlled ride - and it needs to be, because this big Saab weighs over 1.5 tons. When the roads turn twisty big saloons often become bloaty: but not this one. It’s hardly balletic but it’s certainly capable of cleanly and confidently whisking you through bends at a fair old pace. The new 9-5 is a thoroughly modern car. Clean lined, simply drawn and well engineered. Add roominess, total practicality, top build quality and good performance and economy and I’m confident we’re looking at a winning coalition. Saab will survive.
Responses to this review
Thanks for an excellent ’from the heart’ review, Syd. I too am a Saab fan, currently driving a 93 TiD, but on the market for the new 95. Your piece has just helped me make up my mind ! The Saab 95 TTiD it is!! Sandeep from England
Submitted: 2010-11-06 | ID: 6457
I have had my 9-5 for 6 years and not had a single problem. extremely reliable and can get 44 MPG on a motorway run. I had the engine re mapped and it is now both more powerful and economical. An excellent family car. 120K miles and runs like a dream- the best second had 2.0 petrol family cat that you can buy!
Submitted: 2010-05-28 | ID: 5316
Did not think the cost of the service of this car would be so much, but paid £492.77 for 36000 mile service with only oil & filters. Later I spoke to David on service who said I should only have paid £471 at Nidd Vale Motors Harrogate. I am not a very happy person, this is the forth car I have bought from Nidd Vale and will be my last.
Submitted: 2009-04-27 | ID: 2858
Very nice car. Smooth and refined engine and suspension. Motor way muncher! 2.3T engine throws a punch but the interior needs more attention - too many plastics, like my Vectra - can’t tell the difference. Otherwise the car is OK. Mk2 of Saab 9-5 is way over due!!!. Overall rating is 7/10.
Submitted: 2009-03-16 | ID: 2661
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Second hand you get a lot of car for your money - but watch those residuals! I got mine at 7 months old, 6k on the clock and £10k less than the new price and this from a Saab dealer. This will soften the blow on the trade in a bit - and I had intended to run the car for a few years. The good points - feels roomy, safe, and comfortable. Great sound system (9 nine speakers and plays mp3 CD-Rs - who needs a disc changer?). Engine is great: I average around 48 mpg, and it can average well over 50 mpg on long motorway journeys if you stick to the speed limit. Acceleration is excellent - all the overtaking power you need in the 40 - 70 mph zone. The bad points: some cheap plastic and rattles let the car down. I have had two replacement clutch master cylinders in 3 months - the connecting rod to the pedal having broken. There’s nothing like being stranded by the side of the road to make you hate your car! Plus I have a sticky rear passenger door that doesn’t always unlock. These breakages and little faults leave me feeling disappointed with the overall quality of the car. Starting to wonder if I should have gone with a Vauxhall. My dealer experience has been great - they are helpful and attentive. The various other Saab’s I have driven - mostly variations on the current 9-3 feel better to drive and better finished as well. The automatic is not to my taste - and is not so economical. So it all comes down to what you value. From the from the front car has a road presence (back end is pretty ugly) it’s not a BMW (which to many people is a plus) and there are many dedicated Saab fans out there. It is an OK car - but I have doubts about long term durability, and this lack of confidence is reflected in the extremely low residual price. You could get a bit of a bargain second hand, but I can’t see any argument for buying new.
Submitted: 2008-08-19 | ID: 1792
Very nice and convenient car, all that I expected. So far - 120,000 miles and no unusual problems.
Submitted: 2008-06-26 | ID: 1605
I’ve always had a thing about Saab’s, always wanted one. When the time came to buy a new car I thought that I should finally give in to the urge and make the dream a reality. Unfortunately the reality was a disappointment, the saloon is very noisy and lacking in refinement. I was also unimpressed by the Saab dealership, they were unhelpful and surly. The car seemed dated by modern standards and after only 16,000 miles I had to replace the front tyres. The cost of any service on the car is extortionate! I wanted to get rid but have since found out that the 9-5 is now only worth 40% of it initial cost price and this is dropping every time I drive it. I have to face up to the fact that I made a mistake and bought with my heart rather than my head. I also did not do enough research before buying, I strongly recommend that any buyer purchases a couple of magazines and has a look at the residual values plus looking at driver’s opinions on sites such as this before making a costly financial mistake similar to mine. I will never buy another Saab again. This was a case of a dream turning into a nightmare.
Submitted: 2008-05-02 | ID: 1406
I have driven Toyota’s for seven years, but the 9-5 salloon vector sports Tdi is the most wonderful car to drive. The leather seats are so comfortable and the seats can be heated at the touch of a button. On the motorway the 9-5 is a pleasure to drive and the headlights are very effective. I would have given the 9-5 Vector sports 150 Tdi an even higher rating if the interior was not let down by saab using too much plastic. The glove box is quite flimsy. Nevertheless the car represents great value for money. I am also confident that after driving 700 miles my lower back will be fine. Congratulations to Saab on producing a car that presents the right image in a challenging market place.
Submitted: 2008-03-25 | ID: 1193
I have had the 95 for a week now, it only had 100 miles on the clock when the delivery driver left it at my office.The spec was good with all the safety functions you need including parking sensors as standard, The seating was excellent not to firm with great manual adjustment, on the road the torque was impressive with power on tap even at low speeds in 5th gear, GM have a good motor here which they use in the Saab and Vauxhall range. The computer display function is not the best but works okay once you have a handle on the buttons. Driving steady on normal roads and in traffic the car was returning an average of 39mpg once on the motorway ths car is a real class ride, low wind noise, and very stable, driving at quite high speed with the cruise control on the car was still returning over 42 mpg which for a new car which was very tight could only get better. I did not like the electric window switch position being in the centre but got used to it after a while, also when you stop you have to select reverse to get the ingnition key out, it is then impossible to move the gear lever as it is looked in until you start again. If you want space, comfort and good mpg the 95 would be a good choice.
Submitted: 2007-11-23 | ID: 742
Good car to drive, great on motorways. Diesel is great on mileage but a few too many cheap materials used on the interior.
Submitted: 2007-11-05 | ID: 505
Nice car with a comfortable ride. Lots of space & good specification, but a bit plasticky inside. Not quite as good as some others in this class, but certainly less expensive to buy.
Submitted: 2007-10-26 | ID: 354
2010 - The new Saab 9-5 almost became a trivia question, along the lines of ‘Which production car was fully developed and shown, but never actually built?’. Because when General Motors cut it Swedish subsidiary loose at the end of 2009, the company’s future looked bleak, until the Dutch boutique sports car [...]
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