Wednesday Night Snippets: Saab 9-5 road test and Muller interview

Truth be known, these three articles really deserve their own posts. As it is, however, it’s too late in the evening and I’ve been pretty busy getting prepared for the long flights coming up.

So, three snippets that really should be read as three separate articles.

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Saab 9-5 road test #1: Auto Express

Auto Express writer Graeme Lambert has posted his thoughts on driving the new Saab 9-5 TiD Vector.

The good – it’s packed with more equipment than any other Saab and he regards it as the best Saab the company’s ever built. That’s quite a compliment coming from a man who I’m reliably informed has a very tide Saab 900 in his garage.

The seats are ‘incredibly comfortable’, the HUD very useful and the space very generous. It has very noticeable presence and a sexy rear.

The not-so-good – overly keen light steering, an overly long gearbox for the engine and excessive wind noise from what he describes as ‘frameless windows’. I’m not sure what’s being referred to there as there are definitely frames around the windows. Perhaps there’s a new definition of ‘frameless’.

Despite those points of contention, Lambert does seem quite keen on the 9-5 and not only just because it means Saab lives on.

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Saab 9-5 road test #2 – Autocar (again)

Hilton Holloway brought us the first review of the new Saab 9-5 a few days ago and he’s back today with a more focused look at the same car that Lambert drove – the 2.0 TiD Vector.

What I like about this short review is that HH goes to some lengths to separate the car from it’s GM architecture-sharing Insignia:

It’s powered by the 2.0-litre, 157bhp, turbodiesel engine familiar from the Vauxhall Insignia, but the motor has undergone extensive changes to improve the below-par refinement.

Saab’s engineers have added extra insulation behind the dashboard and sound deadening in the oil pan as well changing the fuel pump’s mounting bracket.

Changes have also been made to the scissor gears (which work between the two camshafts) and the offset of the piston pins have been tweaked. Finally, the engine’s air intake system has been further isolated from the body structure…..

….Although this 9-5 uses the same MacPherson strut and multi-link set-up as the Insignia, Saab engineers have specified their own springs, dampers, bushes and anti-roll bars.

As such, it’s not the same sort of overview as Lambert’s review in AE, but gives you a valuable added perspective and is well worth reading.

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This is perhaps a bigger piece than those two…..

It’s an interview with Victor Muller that has been published in Automotive World. I had to sign up for a 2-week trial to get it and you may need to as well if you’re not already a subscriber.

Some snippets from it:

AW: So it follows that the next 9-3, which is two years away, we are told, will become larger; a more premium rival for the (Audi) A4 and Volvo’s new, bigger S60?

VM: Yes.

AW: Was building the 9-4X and so helping GM to amortize the cost of a new platform over two models one of the requirements of you buying Saab?

VM: We could have broken the contract for the 9-4X if we had wanted to with no financial penalty. But why would we do that? Believe me, this makes sense for us. And building vehicles in Mexico is a great dollar hedge.

AW: So does this mean you will build the replacement for the 9-3 in Sweden?

VM: Definitely.

AW: When will that be?

VM: We have the 9-5 sedan, then the 9-5 SportCombi (wagon) and the 9-4X and then in 2012 the 9-3 replacement.

AW: You mention cashflow. One potentially large revenue stream must surely be the huge amount to be earned from spare parts for older Saabs. Did you negotiate those rights or is General Motors still reaping those profits?

VM: This is a very, very important question. This income is ours, so when some critics have questioned the viability of our plans they should consider this.

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