Car and Driver test the Saab 9-5 Aero

This test is a biggie. Car and Driver, for all its faults, is still one of the bigger buff books in the US market so it’s good coverage for Saab to have the 9-5 tested there.

And it’s a very positive test, too. If you’re one of the Saab enthusiasts who followed the saga of the Saab sale last year, you’ll know that there was plenty of goodwill amongst much of the automotive media. The business media, well, that was another matter. But the automotive press has a soft spot for Saab and that’s a foot in the door that the company desperately needs.

Car and Driver liken the Saab sale to some of the better redemption stories they’ve heard over the years. Although, it must be said, they also liken it to the classic Gen-X comedy Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and whilst I loved that movie 20 years ago, it doesn’t make me think about cars in 2010.

And therein lies the one criticism I’ll level at C&D for this test – in trying so hard to make smart jokes and GM quips, they sometime lose sight of the mission: accurately write up the Saab 9-5. That’s a small issue, though, in what is over all a good review of the 9-5. It’s just that throwaway lines about the Buick Lacrosse are so cheap and easy. It makes it look like they weren’t really trying.

They were trying, though, and setting aside my angst for a minute, I can even pull out some good quotes for you.

The Outside:

…..along comes this knockout. The taut styling invites long stares, and the aggressively tapered greenhouse and blacked-out pillars identify this as a Saab—the first in a while that doesn’t look like a ’90s model.

The inside:

Cool touches abound inside, neutralizing the sea of black plastic in which they swim….. Even widely available gadgets and functions are executed here with an extra degree of thought…… It’s comfortable inside, too. The fantastic bolstering of the front seats had some staffers suggesting that GM keep these thrones and install them in the Corvette…… What appears to be a haphazard scattering of  buttons across the center stack turns out to be highly intuitive, and specific functions are easy to locate.

On the road:

Although the 9-5 tested here is the top-of-the-line Aero model with a turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6, its speed is only middle-of-the-road. Zero to 60 in 6.3 seconds isn’t slow, but we expect a bit more from a 300-hp, $50K luxury car……

Still, power builds so quickly that, in first gear, you need to grab the paddle to upshift by 5500 rpm if  you don’t want to crash into the fuel cutoff at 6500. Turbo lag isn’t much of an issue—it’s just one continuous pull…..

Our results are a testimony to the efficacy of the (Hi Per Strut) setup, as the 9-5 was utterly free of torque steer, although all-wheel drive tends to help minimize that, too. It stuck to the skidpad with 0.89 g, a number that matches the last 335i sedan we tested. Braking from 70 mph also approaches the 335i’s, taking 173 feet, just five feet more than the BMW.

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As I said, it’s a good test over all. They like the car right from the get-go and enhancements to come will make it even better. I’ll be interested to see what they make of the 2.0T, for example.

Head over to C&D and check it out.

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