New BMW 5er sets a heady standard for 2010 Saab 9-5

The new F10 BMW 5-series was officially announced online today and even without a post about here, comments have been abuzz.
This new 5er will hit the showrooms in March 2010, so the new Saab 9-5 will have to go head-to-head against a brand new competitor in this executive class. As with the Saab 9-5, pricing hasn’t been released for all markets yet, so it’s hard to know how competitive that situation will be, but we can do a few comparitives.
Looks
Here’s what the fuss is all about.
BMW_5-Series_front_largeday.jpg
Looks are always a personal matter. Each to their own, but personally I think this, like most BMWs in recent history, is on a par with Britney Spears. You feel compelled to look because of the fuss, but once you get a glimpse you know that you’d never really want to go there. Many do, however.
So….. fussy aggression or cleaner lines?
2010 Saab 9-5
It really is your own choice. I wouldn’t mind a slightly more aggressive looking body on the Aero version of the 9-5, but that doesn’t take away from my appreciation of the presence this car has, especially in person.
Engines
BMW will naturally have the edge at the upper end of the engine range, simply because they go to capacities that Saab don’t come close to. History shows, however, that the majority of sales are at the smaller end of the engine range.
BMW will offer a 150kW 523i and 190kW 528i that’ll both have naturally aspirated 3-litre six cylinder engines. Saab’s power outputs at these levels will be lower, but the engines will be much smaller, too – the 1.6T will produce 132kW and the 2.0T will produce 162kW, which will sit quite nicely between those two BMW variants.
Lovers of oil burning engines will get BMW’s 520d, which has a quite perky 135kW engine. This is going to be the real winner in Europe for BMW, with ability to sprint from stop to 100kph in a sliver over 8 seconds. Saab will offer only the 2.0 TiD at first (118kW and 10.1 seconds) but they will follow up with a TTiD engine some time later. I am assured. And it’ll have XWD.
Next up for BMW is the 225kW/400Nm twin-scroll turbo six, which will be matched nicely on paper with Saab’s 221kW/400Nm twin-scroll turbo 2.8T.
Above this, we’re in rarified air where Saab will only compete if Mr von Koenigsegg and friends decide to go nuts. I suggest they won’t. Not for a few years, at least. The new 9-3 is more of a priority than a half dozen super quick 9-5s.
So, the advantage?
In terms of the petrol engines that most people will actually buy, it’s horses for courses. I don’t have the emissions figures for both to compare them (and that’ll have a large bearing, at least in Europe) but either offering will be more than capable of delivering a fun drive.
I’ve driven the 9-5 with the 2.0T BioPower and it was a blast, so I’ve got ever confidence that Saab’s higher end offering will be killer fun.
In terms of the diesel, well, Saab could do with that TTiD engine, though the TiD (and the 1.6T) is going to prove to be a very attractive business leasing option in many Euro markets.
If you’re after 400hp, then bless you for your good fortune.
Interior
This is totally subjective, once again, but it’s no secret that I love Saab interiors and the new Saab 9-5 – with the possible exception of the front seat headrests – is no exception. The materials were first rate, as was the finish. And there’s very little I’d change with the design.
2010 Saab 9-5
BMW’s interiors, in my experience, are very well screwed together and there’s a good feeling of space there, but the design and material choices just aren’t for me.
BMW_5-Series_interior.jpg
In terms of interior amenities, the large majority of vehicles purchased will most likely be similarly equipped, but the BMW will come with a longer options page with more toys available for the gotta-have-it crowd.
Advantage?
I’d happily sit in the 9-5’s interior for hours. The BMW I’d be happy to get a lift in.
Technology
Again, at the volume levels, there’s not going to be much to separate them. BMW will likely have a few more offerings because they’ve been at this stuff for a long time and have been successful at it, but those extra offerings will mostly be in the options list and will mostly have a hefty price tag.
The 8-speed auto transmission, for instance. It’s great to say you’ve got one available, but how many are they going to sell at the premium they’ll ask for it? But, at least they’ve got one. This is something that will take Ksegg and Saab some time.
Things like lane departure warning systems, head-up displays, active cruise control and a bunch of other features are listed with both cars. The only difference will be how much you have to pay to get them, and that’s unknown at this point.
Advantage?
BMW at the upper levels and possibly by a smidge at the volume level too, but that’s not to say that the Saab is poorly equipped. In fact, It’s the best equipped Saab ever.
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I’ll leave at that for now. You folks are better than me at this sort of stuff anyway.
Suffice to say, BMW’s resources and experience show in the vast range that they’re available to offer with their new 5-series.
The new Saab 9-5 will definitely offer a viable option to those looking at the base-medium level of this series, which will be the vast majority of people. Where the Saab will possibly miss out is on the upper level cachet.
This is a much smaller part of the volume equation, but part that’s very useful to leverage the rest of your range. Go ahead and read the press releases on this news car and the associated journalist’s writeups. They’ll be gushing about the new high-end tech stuff and 75% of the article will be about that. The fact that that high-end gear will possibly be seen in about 25% of sales doesn’t come into play, but that’s the advantage of having it.
I can live without a higher end 400hp competitor. But jeez, that TTiD would be nice.

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