Saab 9-5 reviews

These three reviews have been floating through the comments section for around 24 hours now, but I thought I’d bring them to the front page and provide a little comment.

All three offer decidedly below-average assessments of the new Saab 9-5. All three are from England and two of the three concentrate on the base model diesel.

Early reviews, even from the English press, were pretty positive. So why the change?

I wish I knew the full answer to that. Chatting with one person close to the action revealed that some companies use English roads as a type of proving ground and ensure they tune the suspension to cope properly. Perhaps Saab haven’t done this properly. Perhaps the base engined diesel acts like a base engined diesel.

Whilst I tend to think that at least two of these reviews are overly harsh, I will concede the following:

1) I didn’t get to drive a base-engined diesel during my test drives. I only drove the 2.0T petrol and the 2.8V6 petrol with XWD. I found both of these to be absolutely superb.

2) The 9-5 does need improvement in certain areas, particularly the dashboard, which we’ve discussed at length here already.

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WhatCar review – awards the 9-5 just two stars

Maybe their rating system is meant to be comparative rather than just rating the car as it stands, but I find it confusing that the Dame Edna Saab 9-5 that this car replaces was awarded three stars whereas the new car was only awarded two. No disrespect to Dame Edna owners, but the new 9-5 is a superior car in every way. Even the basic black dash is better in terms of the actual materials used.

“Excessive wind noise” – “steering wheel vibration” – “unsettled at all speeds”…… I would disagree heartily with all three of these statements in terms of the cars that I drove. I know Graeme Lambert from Auto Express (Saab owner, enthusiast and journo) has also mentioned wind noise but I didn’t notice it. Perhaps I was too busy enjoying the drive.

“Saab’s reliability also needs to improve” – I’ll challenge that in a post coming soon and I’d love to see WhatCar to back up their statement with facts.

Safety – it confuses me how this 9-5, a proven 5-star performer with all the safety systems you could reasonably ask for (including rollover protection) rates only 4 out of 5 stars by a magazine’s standards.

AutoCar review – awards the 9-5 just two stars

You feel like this review is doomed from the start when they wheel out this old chestnut…. “is it enough to base a premium-brand saloon on Vauxhall underpinnings and engines?”.

We know it shares an architecture. No-one’s trying to hide that, but it’s also 70% unique to Saab, which is not mentioned in the article. Are they trying to prove the case they state in the opening?

They spend quite a bit of time on the engine, which as I mentioned, I haven’t driven. When I went to the 9-5 launch, the Irish journos were also critical of this base-engined diesel, so I’m not surprised to read what they wrote. It seems that in the interests of economy and emissions, Saab have geared this engine too long for some tastes and are suffering in some reviews because of it.

This might also be why reviews from the US are coming in better than in the UK – no diesel.

They also criticise the suspension, saying it is too springy for their liking. Again, I can only state what I felt, which was a whole heap of fun. I had a great time on Swedish roads with this car and it felt comfortable and in control the whole time, especially in the lighter 2.0T.

Autocar has pretty much the same interior criticisms as WhatCar, which we’ve acknowledged already. Saab do need to work on that dash. WhatCar also criticised the buttons, which for around 98% of the interior is absolute piffle.

There has been some criticism of the seats. The seats in the Aero V6 I drove were absolutely superb, which youd expect in the top of the line model. The seats in the 2.0T that I drove were also superb. I don’t know if there’s a third seat variant for the TiD they drove, but maybe there is as they complain of a lack of lateral support (though otherwise “pefectly comfortable”).

“….below average in most areas, including ride, handling, cabin quality and performance…..” forms part of the verdict.

I think these provide a reasonable assessment for the model driven, however I seriously question – given the model driven and its place in the market – that the car as described in the review merits a two-star verdict.

I think they’ve been overly harsh, even by their own descriptions.

Pistonheads review – no ratings given.

Not an overly in-depth piece, but not a bad writeup.

Their summary at the end:

But that’s the top-spec offering. Depending on how far down the range you have to go, 9-5s have to do without the HiPer Struts, the H-pattern rear suspension or the all-wheel drive. And that, perhaps, is the key. Without the top-end gew-gaws and gadgets, the new 9-5 is a distinctly average offering in a distinguished class.

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