One man’s thoughts on the 2010 Saab 9-5

WooDz is a long-time commenter here at TS/SU and he joined me at the Saab stand on Wednesday to view the 2010 Saab 9-5 for the first time.

He’s offered up these thoughts on the car and I was pleased to receive them. My schedule here in Trollhattan is pretty hectic for the next 24 hours, so I won’t be able to write heaps of material myself. And aside from that, I think it’s pretty important for you to hear another person’s perspective on this car anyway.

I’ll hopefully get to recording my own thoughts on the driving experience I had today some time late tomorrow.

My thanks to WooDz for taking the time and sharing what he learned at the Saab stand at Frankfurt, and for joining us at dinner afterwards (which was no small commitment as it was about a 3 hour drive each way for him to attend).

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Swade managed to work an absolute blinder on the 16th where I found myself standing next some great people who have kept their heads whilst the whirlwind reorganisation has sweep through SAAB and almost Trollhättan itself. As gratitude I’d like to give you an insight to what I personally think of the all new 95.

Given how virtually every article has mentioned the size of this car, I was expecting to see not one but 4 great hulking lumps of metal on the Saab stand. Yet; for its size the new 9-5 looks fairly compact. The edges have been rounded off making the car appear smaller than it really is.

Inside; and again you get the same feeing that you’re sat in a sports coupe only to turn round and find leather coated rear seats that look too far away, for what your mind is thinking is a small car. Behind the wheel is very snug indeed but that’s not to be mistaken for cramped, far from it. The facia encapsulates you and your hand falls naturally next to the gearshift reminding you that a SAAB is still a drivers car. The seating position is great and very supportive in true SAAB fashion and yes; they were extensively designed in Sweden, as much of the interior was, with the exterior mainly designed in Rüsselshiem.

Pictures of the interior do not do this car justice as there is no raw hard plastic to be found anywhere. At arms length everything blends very well leaving no doubt that the accounts were kept chained like rabid dogs when it came to the budgeting for this gorgeous car. Examining materials closer there is still a fair amount of plastic but its usage has been so well executed you do have to concentrate hard on reaching a final decision on what it is.

In the back the leg room is more than ample and for someone of 183cm I still had a good 5 or 6cm of headroom making me wonder, just how tall is the average journalist to consistently write that the sloping roofline could cause a problem for large rear passengers? Looking forward; your perspective changes to when you are behind the wheel, as you notice just how big the 9-5 cabin is and as you touch and feel the various materials surrounding you, there are no sharp edges or cheap feeling parts to be found giving the overall appearance that this a very well appointed vehicle.

With the 9-5 standing before me in all its glory, I just felt it inappropriate to distract from the main focus of the event with many questions on future products. Although I was really impressed with the openness of the SAAB management to talk about the future and I got a sense that the new era of SAAB is full of enthusiasm and purpose. The Koenigsegg Group bring with them unfathomable amounts of energy too that will seem at complete parallels to the clinical GM mechanism which may just ring true, that this small group or entrepreneurs could well succeed where a large corporate is just not geared to accommodate such a niche brand.

For the first time SAAB will have a Direct Injection engine with a 220hp 2.0ltr Turbo. If your thinking this is a detuned Chevy Colbolt engine, then don’t because it’s the next generation version meaning it’s a lot more frugal. Unique to SAAB is the Bio-Power variant which is likely to be the worlds first production direct injection turbo charge e85 capable powertrain and it’s also destined for the North American market.

Unfortunately the air-intakes behind the front wheels do not have a function, which does go against SAAB’s ideology. It was not originally intended for just aesthetic appearance but cost for materials and labour vs. performance enhancement just couldn’t be warranted. Yet, to remove the vents completely, would have made the 9-5 look more understated, going against the direction that SAAB wish for the brand. So the intakes don’t have a function yet, with the emphasis on the last word.

We’ve also heard a few rumors on the inter-web regarding a 1.4ltr mated to an electrical propulsion system. This is not happening, which does not rule out any hybrid combination for the 9-5 but considering the task of marketing a sub 6 cylinder in the luxury sedan segment you can appreciate that a 1.4/hybrid would be far better placed in a future product. That product is underway and naturally no dates or timelines could be given but expect a far stronger design language as the company drives a statement that, “We are SAAB and we are proud to be.” Maybe a philosophy we should reaffirm as owners?

Once again many thanks to Swade and to all that came to the Australian bar, to this quite a memorable day.

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