A personal view of the new Saab 9-5

One of SU’s regular readers, Motoradd, had an opportunity in the last few days to take a personal look around the new Saab 9-5.

This is his account. It’s a great insight into a first-time viewing and I thank Motoradd for sending it through.

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Last Thursday I received a call from Chris Parkes at Concept Saab Coventry, personally inviting myself (and the good lady wife) to a special viewing of the new 9-5. It was a privilege reserved for some of their special customers in concert with some other local dealers.

It was a timely call, as I was about to call them to book my wife’s turbo pram, a 9-3 convertible, in for a service. Concept Saab managed to get hold of one of two pre-production new 9-5’s touring around the UK. The viewing was to be held on the first of June for a limited period.

After turning up at the dealership on the Saturday to drop the convertible off and being told that I’m too early for the viewing on Monday, I received my formal invite in the post; a rather nicely presented invitation card.

So today, with invite in hand, I left work early to battle across the M6 from Wolverhampton to Coventry in rush hour traffic. I arrived in my first and favourite Saab, my 1994 900V6 auto, which has just been finally restored to his former glory after been written off 6 years ago.

Into the showroom I went, and there it was in Carbon Grey. My first impression was Wow that’s a big car. It took some time to get used to the high line bonnet as to me Saabs usually have a lower than normal bonnet height.

As someone else was in the driver’s seat, I first looked in the boot and was impressed by the build quality of the boot lid. It felt as solid as a hatch or estate boot lid, not flimsy like most booted cars. The boot arms were not pressed steel, but beautifully curved painted tubes of steel. The boot space was on the very generous side of very generous.

I was then invited to sit in the drivers seat, which to a UK driver felt slightly odd as it was on the left . The seat was too conventional looking for a Swedish car in my mind. Swedish cars should have odd looking seats – an unwritten rule of Swedish car design, but it was superbly comfortable, with an adjustable squab and was fully powered and ventilated. As I found out later the car was a Vector SE 1.9 diesel with all the toys added.

The driving environment is a large change from Saabs of old. Some my like it and some might not. My first impression was that the steering wheel was quite small, but I soon got used to it. There are a lot of buttons and knobs, which is a sea change from Saabs minimal elegance and for me with my degraded eyesight, the writing on the knobs and buttons was slightly on the small side. I’m sure that it is something I could get used to.

The head-up display was an interesting optional extra (£500). You can adjust its vertical position (in steps) and its intensity. It would be interesting to see how well it functions on the road; is it distracting or useful? Only a road test would show that.

The instrument binnacle was a classic example of Saab’s superb ergonomic design, just one irritation; the text message telling me to depress the clutch to start the car!

Over the years I have accepted and now expect Saab window controls to be in the middle, now they have confused me by putting them in the driver’s door. (Bring them back to the middle some time please – SW)

Once out of the car I exercised my male prerogative of looking under the bonnet. A beautifully laid out engine bay met my eyes with lots of plastic covers over various parts, so well done that you couldn’t work out where the battery was. The underside of the hood was seamless, no pressing marks or cut outs (hence no rust traps). A single gas strut held the bonnet in the up position, giving a nice balance to the opening and closing of the bonnet.

So that was my up front and personal look at the 9-5. I then started chatting with Chris at his desk and took some photos of the car. To the left of where I was standing was a current 9-5 estate in bright red. Glancing at the two cars, the new 9-5 sadly makes the current 9-5 look very very old (which is a shame as I have a 08 9-5 estate and my wife has a 09 9-5 saloon). I think the solid bright red from the front with the silver Dame Edna glasses doesn’t help the current 9-5 shape.

I watched various people get in and out of the car, including various members of Concept’s staff. The mechanics were having a good look at the engine bay. One late-middle aged man in a business suit got in the car, and there in a moment was the type of person that the car is aimed at. It’s a business persons car, middle to senior management and a serious rival (at a bargain price) for Jaguar, BMW, Mercedes and Audi.

It is not the car for me as I’m more of your old school Saab buyer (professional self-employed artisan type) and I live in hope that the new 900 for 2012 will be more my double expresso.

I think the car is a winner and over the hour or so that I spent at Concept the looks of the car really grew on me. Maybe after a good nights sleep I may even contemplate the idea of having the new 9-5 wagon when it comes out next year and I’ll still keep my 900V6.

For Saab and Saab employees and everyone connected with Saab, I hope they can sell every one they make. With the kit levels on prices on offer I’m sure they will, once the new advertising and marketing media campaigns start to roll out.

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