NYT review Saab 9-5

This one’s been discussed fairly extensively in comments, even before I got the dozen or so emails about it in my inbox (thanks all).

The word “spin” has already been mentioned in comments, so I was loathe to bring the whole thing to the front page. Why go over this if people aren’t going to read it with an open mind (and funny that they’ll take everything in the NYT as gospel but voluntarily come here and be cynical about what I might write).

Nevertheless…..

The New York Times has published a review of the Saab 9-5 and it would be fair to class it as “a mixed bag” of bouquets and bricks.

The reviewer – Laurence Ulrich – loves the fact that the 9-5 exists and even likes a lot of things about it, but feels that it shows too many signs of its GM origins and that it fades once you introduce it to some competition.

I’m not going to bother with addressing his more contentious points one by one in detail. There’s not a single thing in this review that’s new to a regular Saab reader, so any points I’d make are well known to you all. There are some things in this review that are fair points that I think Saab will address in coming model years (interior) and there are some things in the review that are just downright wrong or inappropriate (the unqualified comparison between an Aero model Saab and a base-mid model Buick).

Instead, I’ll bring these two things to the table.

1) The fact that everyone we’ve heard from who’s actually bought a Saab 9-5, loves it.

and

2) something that Hugh W, a New Yorker, posted in the comments discussion:

……while all of us wish that he would have said this is the car of the year, run out and buy it, I don’t think that it will do too much harm, and will likely help a lot. Let me explain. The NYTimes reader is intelligent and perhaps a bit cynical. They know that nothing is all good or all bad, that reviewers are sometimes concerned about little things that are of no concern to them, that to be a reviewer implies that there will be some not=picking and criticism. On the other-hand, there are enough good things said about the 9-5 to tickle the interest of anyone who has ever owned a Saab, especially those that have owned and liked their GM era 9-3s. But most importantly, it brings to a wide readership the fact that Saab is alive and has a new car, warts and all. For those that Saab was closed, for those looking for an alternative to the Germans, this is huge!!! They at least know now that there is a new kid on the block that’s worth checking out. Will they all buy? certainly not, but I’m equally certain that it will increase traffic into dealer’s showrooms and potential buyers and evaluate and decide for themselves.

The New York Times review of the Saab 9-5, which may require registration, is here.

Bernard
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Bernard
5 years 9 months ago

I have a hard time believing that 0-60 MPH in 6.3 seconds is not considered fast for a mid-level luxury car. Are there that many four door cars under $50,000 that do 0-60 in the 5 second range?

Erik
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Erik
5 years 9 months ago

Your 1st point is a little weak… of course everyone who’s purchased a new 9-5 loves it. They were predisposed to like it — reviewers don’t have that luxury. 🙂

100%Saab
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100%Saab
5 years 9 months ago

The NYT just doesn’t get it. I’m getting tired of Buick comparisons. By the way the NYT has given the Buicks good reviews.

74stingray
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74stingray
5 years 9 months ago

eh…. thats all I’ll say. I think what Hugh W said pretty much sums it up well.

Fred in NH
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Fred in NH
5 years 9 months ago

I read the ny times daily. The times reviews for cars and movies and probably other things are notoriously negative. New Yorkers have pretty high standards. Some of my favorite movies ever were panned by the times. Regular readers know this. I do, however, remember an extremely positive review of the 9-3 SC back when it came out in 2006.

saaaaaaaaaaab
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saaaaaaaaaaab
5 years 9 months ago
I love SAAB and have owned 7 SAABS since 1981. I recently test drove a 9-5 2.0t xwd. Unfortunately no matter how much I want to love the 2011 9-5 I have to agree with the NYT’s review as the car lacks any “real steering or road feel” and for me that is a contentious point to say the least. All of my SAAB’s have had excellent road and steering dynamics including my current 2006 SAAB 9-5 2.3t despite it’s understeer. The 2011 SAAB 9-5, IMHO does not and for me (if I needed a new car soon) would drive… Read more »
TD04Saab
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TD04Saab
5 years 9 months ago
NYTimes is spot on with this review. The article was the most honest assessment of the car and the brand I’ve read in a long time. And it doesn’t make Saab look very good at all. Comparing a car that will cost over $45,000 to a Buick is the kiss of death since the NYTimes Demographic is exactly the demographic they are trying to launch themselves into with this car. And no rich person is going to want to buy a freaking Saab 9-5 unless they are already sold on the brand. (ie. drinking the coolaid as many of us… Read more »
Bernard
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Bernard
5 years 9 months ago

TD,

The fuel economy for the V6 XWD is similar to or better than it’s main competitors, according to EPA ratings. That hardly makes it a gas hog.

4 cylinder numbers aren’t out yet, but it’s hard to imagine that they won’t beat the competition’s sixes.

Rune
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Rune
5 years 9 months ago

TD04Saab, have you taken the 9-5 for a spin yourself?

Jim
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Jim
5 years 9 months ago

That’s pretty pessimistic. The 4 cyl 9-5 would be the most efficient car in its class. I agree the Buick name dropping is gratuitous (A Bentley could likewise be called a Volkswagen, an Audi A6 a Volkswagen, etc). But to me, the real thorn in the article was the $52k MSRP. Frankly, that is a kiss of death. The article was fairly positive on the car, but it was a rebuke of Saab’s market positioning if Saab really wishes to be compared with the market’s finest, just days after leaving the hospital.

Tim O'Brien
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Tim O'Brien
5 years 9 months ago

I am in NY and read the NY Times daily.

The review by anyone’s standards wasn’t positive, the Buick for 30 k v 95 for 50 k etc

But I don’t disagree, big readership in the number one market for Saab and importantly in the heart of the traditional Saab territory, the northeast including NY, NJ CT and that awareness that Saab is in business is the very big positive.

This will translate to test drives and sales.

Tim O'Brien
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Tim O'Brien
5 years 9 months ago

By the way i forgot to mention, the last Saab review I read on the front page of the Times Auto section was of the Turbo X in summer of 2008.

That review was extremely positive, wasn’t cynical NY

MikeInBrklyn
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MikeInBrklyn
5 years 9 months ago
If Saab doesn’t do something drastic (design wise) soon to move its cars away from the GM designs, then the company is doomed. I just saw the new BMW 550i Gran Turismo and what is confirms is how unwise it was for GM’s to do away with the Saab hatchbacks. In doing so, they (GM) create a huge void that BMW, etc. are rushing to fill before Saab can wise up. BMW proves that in the hands of a stellar design and engineering team, desirable cars can be produced. But then again we old Saab new that …. That 550i… Read more »
E
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E
5 years 9 months ago

Bought a 2010 9-5 Aero today … tired of sitting on the sidelines. Of course, the $16K incentive clinched it. Now we have this amazing vehicle parked along side our TurboX. What to drive, what to drive … and I don’t even read NYT! 🙂

theSandySaab
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theSandySaab
5 years 9 months ago

Mind sharing the details on tha 16k incentive???

E
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E
5 years 9 months ago
The ad ran in the Denver Post on Thursday. It’s for a Denver SAAB dealership. I called to inquire Friday night and learned it was on all 6 of their remaining 2010 9-5s in stock, with no stipulations. Visited on Saturday. Three of the 6 were fully loaded. Bought a diamond silver metallic fully loaded one. In the paperwork, I saw they credited $2K to owner loyalty cash. But I think that may have been a way for them to get a little of the incentive back, as they said no stipulations. End result … there were 5 left as… Read more »
Me
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Me
5 years 9 months ago

As long as they only use such exaggerated incentives to move the 2010 cars !!

RS
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RS
5 years 9 months ago

+1.
E, have you read the fine print on the contact the community got in at the last minute? (you must come back to the dealer in a week so they can tape stickers all around the car that reads: “SAAB 95 Aero 300hp, now only $54.900. Worth every penny”. You only have to keep them on for the next 12 months though 🙂

meg haviland
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meg haviland
5 years 9 months ago

+1
No 16K incentives to date unless the car you bought was put in dealer service and wriiten down like a lot, which still wouldn’t have put down that #

E what area are you from??????

E
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E
5 years 9 months ago

Denver. The one I bought was definitely not a dealer service vehicle. 56 miles. 4 others that were like that in terms of mileage … all $16K off. There was one that was probably a dealer service one … had 1,200 miles on it. Salesperson said they were taking a $5K loss at that discount, but worth it as they had the 2011s in and folks were more interested in them.

psmisc
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psmisc
5 years 9 months ago

“Saab offers a far more affordable Turbo4 model, starting at $39,350 with front drive and a turbocharged Ecotec 4-cylinder. Options on that version include a 6-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive.”

Wait, the XWD 2.0L version will be available in North America? If so I’d serious consider buying it. So far it’s not on the web site.

peeceepeh
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peeceepeh
5 years 9 months ago

I think the report is fairly positive.

“The 9-5 looks modern yet stately. Like the best Saabs of the past, it’s an individualist’s car, with a timeless character that should look as good a decade from now as it does today.”

What else needs to be said? That’s all I wanted to read.

peeceepeh
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peeceepeh
5 years 9 months ago

Oh, and isn’t that environmentally responsible at its heart:

To purchase a car that most probably won’t be thrown a way in a few years time but rather kept and nourished over the years.

signs
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signs
5 years 9 months ago

+1! It’s not designed to be thrown away!

Part of the reason Saab is IT!

RS
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RS
5 years 9 months ago
Long post warning. Now that I’ve driven the new base 9-5 with upgraded seats in one of the worst conditions possible I’d like to point out a few things, but first a (short) rant. When 2/3 of the ‘car review’ talks about GM it loses 90% of its credibility in my eyes. Saab was owned by GM. What a news flash 😉 Who cares about platform sharing. How does that affect the drive per say? If an Audi chassis doesn’t work for me it has absolutely no merit who made it. I don’t care if the suspension is designed by… Read more »
Rune
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Rune
5 years 9 months ago
I glanced through Lawrence’s piece yesterday, and I agree with RS that the focus was misplaced. Bling plays second (or fifth) fiddle to how a vehicle copes with adverse conditions. there is no point complaining that a XWD doesn’t feel like a FWD. As I recall, Lawrence was complaining that XWD doesn’t mask Saab’s FWD roots. He made it sound like that was a bad thing. Lawrence clearly does not know anything about driving a vehicle in snow or on ice. He can’t possibly have tested a 5-series in the snow. It is a dead give-away when he manages to… Read more »
RS
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RS
5 years 9 months ago
Rune, the post was so long I left the tyre explanation out on purpose. The studded tyres on the 9-5 where new of course, but the ones I have are not so bad either (Gislaved Nord Frost 5). Honestly the difference was big. I know the 9-3 inside out but wouldn’t have dared the same speeds on the icy motorway (with or without the speedometer error). I suspect the 9-5 was just that much more quiet and so sturdy that it felt totally safe. I’m no physics expert but I do believe weight translates into friction and therefore a long… Read more »
Kjell Erik
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Kjell Erik
5 years 9 months ago
Me
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Me
5 years 9 months ago
But, we get a positive surprise diesel version. Granted, it provided to a consumption of 0.68 l / mil, which is too high by today’s standards and that take up the price because of taxes, but in our fixed spending round it is lower than that. In fact, we end of 0.57 l / mil, which is less than “environmental champion” BMW 520 dA and Mercedes E220 CDI aut. After reading this, I had to check the article on the Beemer, and I was quite surprised. Saab 9-5 TiD Aut: Eu-Cycle 6.8l/100km Dagbladet Test cycle: 5,7l/100km BMW 520d Aut. (Wagon):… Read more »
Kjell Erik
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Kjell Erik
5 years 9 months ago

This diesel engine is perfect for the european market. I believe all the 9-5 at my local dealer are either tid or ttid. And they have sold a few of them. The latest delivery was a black aero ttid with 4wd.

TD04Saab
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TD04Saab
5 years 9 months ago
It’s clear that this site has taken a new path when it comes to consumer sentiment, whereby all comments need to be echo’d of corporate speak and only positive. No matter what this site moderater tells us, this is really feeling like a corporate blog. Is it no surprise that Swade is never letting negative/constructive comments continue? He’ll probably give us another lengthy justification for what he’s doing, but from what I know, the majority of my friends don’t visit here any longer because it’s a single-sided conversation with little opportunity for alternative viewpoints. Oh and forget it if you… Read more »
74stingray
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74stingray
5 years 9 months ago
I don’t share those feelings and condemn it. the following comments are not made at any one person….. Some people never share positive feelings, only negative. They are trolls, fire-bombers and inciters of arguments that lead to nothing productive about Saab. Having a logical argument about something you don’t like about Saab I am sure is welcomed. But to come here and just bitch and moan…. is not welcomed and quite boring. Swade and EnG go through great efforts to moderate this site and I pity them to have to deal with such narrow minded people who troll here from… Read more »
hughw
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hughw
5 years 9 months ago
Who said Swade isn’t letting negative/constructice comments continue. What he said was ……please cut the “If Saab don’t do [the thing I think is important] then the company is doomed” statements. Saab are doing a million things right at the moment. The thing you think they’re doing wrong might make you wince, but please don’t condemn them for eternity for it – your pessimism can be contagious, whether it’s well founded or unfounded. to me that’s a long way from banning constructive comments. I suspect that it’s pretty tiresome from his perspective, and fairly evident also, if one of us… Read more »
OddJob
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OddJob
5 years 9 months ago

This is a site for Saab fans and after reading this comment and your previous one I can’t see any evidence that you are one of us.

Rune
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Rune
5 years 9 months ago
TD04Saab, there is a fine line between constructive criticism and whining. E.g. we would all love for Saab to push out a diesel version of the 9-4x. Or a XWD 9-3 Diesel. Or a… etc… (or the lack of a hatch!) Those decisions may turn out to be regrettable, but it is too late to do anything about them now. It won’t help at all if we start bashing Saab at the drop of a hat. I’m guilty myself of whining about the lack of hiper strut (and the satnavn system… and… etc…). But I can’t get hiper strut anywhere… Read more »
Me
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Me
5 years 9 months ago

+1 on the tech. and driving experience.

-1 on feeding this troll, as any here that knows Swade, knows that what he is saying is nothing but FUD.
People like him will always try to confront us with facts without any proof of what they say, and if you tell them to give some proof of their facts they start insulting you.
It is really sad, but it is only the dark side of the internet, where people think only because they are(not really) anonymous, they can say anything without consequences for themselves.

signs
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signs
5 years 9 months ago
Thanks Rune! That’s a great comment, and IMO would apply to most blogs and other places as well. I think we can all do well to check ourselves to notice ourselves when we go from constructing to venting – in case we want to improve things, or even just hope for them to get better. Venting is okay and sometimes necessary – don’t get me wrong – but reasonable or helpful in the long run, or to others, it is not. One of the things that attracted me to Saab in the first place is that it is decidedly quite… Read more »
100%Saab
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100%Saab
5 years 9 months ago

Your just wrong! Try to be a creditable participant.

Just a thought.

Nikolay Rusanov
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5 years 9 months ago

there are some things, that make me think this review is not quite objective. it tries to compare 300hp AWD 9-5 with Buick, saying it’s a lot cheaper. while surely he knows, that 220hp 9-5 is only 2000usd more expencive, than 184hp smaller Buick. it says M37 drives better and has better interrior, which surely is not true. Maybe A6, BMW5 and E-Classe are, but M37 is recognized as lower level and very different driving style from 9-5. there are more

Dreadnought
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Dreadnought
5 years 9 months ago

I’ve driven an E-Class. Numbest and lightest steering I’ve ever felt. Nice ride, but not a particularly good handling car.

I don’t know about the current 5-series, but the previous model had a stark, boring, low tech interior.

9-5 isn’t perfect, but neither are its competitors

Bernard
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Bernard
5 years 9 months ago

Car and Driver has similar complaints about the steering on their long-term 535, and reviewers always complain about Audis not being “as sharp” as BMWs.

The fact is that these cars are now over 5m long and closing-in on two metric tons. You can’t really expect them to feel like older cars that were 500kg lighter and much smaller.

What’s amazing is that the performance and fuel economy has improved despite the extra weight.

Jim Haynes
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

Ken does not write glowing, articles. The link has his review on the new Audi A8.

There is no obvious recommendation to the reader to rush out to lease or buy a SAAB 9.5.

Reading the article a second time: One can find many positive points about the car.

100%Saab
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100%Saab
5 years 9 months ago

I’m still having fun with my 9-3, but I’m starting to think my next car will be a 9-5. The most creditable review for me was Swade’s review. What counts is MY test drive.

Just a thought.

Jake
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Jake
5 years 9 months ago

And a correct thought, at that…

fred@dzlsabe.com
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Id give NYTs Ulrich an “incomplete” for finally testing last years model. The 4 cylinder is NEW this year, eagerly awaited by many, in dealers showrooms now, and he couldnt be bothered to drive it? BTW, the new motor is made in the US, in Tonawanda NEW FingYORK. If he even walked by one he would have seen the sticker. Maybe that should just remain a secret?

gunther
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gunther
5 years 9 months ago
I would like to begin by saying that I the 2011 is, IMHO one of the finest looking 4 door sedans on the planet (currently) next to my other favorite, the upcoming Audi A7. When I test drove the 2011 9-5 2.0t XWD the other day I really had my hopes up. When I sat in the cockpit my heart palpated in excitement. The joyful exuberance faded once I had the car at 65 mph. I felt nothing. No tactile steering feel or feel of the road that I did in my 900 Turbo, 1992 9000 Turbo, or even my… Read more »
RS
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RS
5 years 9 months ago
Gunther, we all need to understand something. A 2000 kg car with four-wheel drive and 220hp isn’t going to be a go cart. If you need a car this size (sounds to me you’re looking for tuned 9-3 though) you should simply try the traditional FWD, with manual gearbox and a little help from our friends at Hirsch (which should be available over there by now?). There are different cars for different needs. One complains about torque steer, the other one lacks driving dynamics. Please do your homework and don’t have unrealistic expectations even if it is a SAAB. It’s… Read more »
Kjell Erik
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Kjell Erik
5 years 9 months ago

Gunther, howcome the 9-5 did excellent on the skid pad test in car and driver, when its so numb and boring. To do this it must be very well balanced.

Ned
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Ned
5 years 9 months ago
Skid pad results do not necessarily equate to good steering feel and a sense of driver involvement. My 2010 Acura TSX has phenomenal chassic dynamics (for FWD), and yet the steering is despressingly numb, which makes it feel much more remote than it should. Unfortunatelty, with the prevalence of electrically assisted steering (as in my TSX), this appears to be on the rise. The new BMW 5’s electric steering has been heavily criticized for lack of feel, and I’ve read similar criticism of Audis. Hopefully, over time, the engineers will be able to add excellent feedback to electric systems. The… Read more »
Paul Guinnessy
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Paul Guinnessy
5 years 9 months ago
Is it just me or have there been no reviews about the other really important aspect of Saab’s, the size of the trunk (or boot to you Europeans)? I have a four month old baby and although the Tiguan is very nice that we’re driving at the moment, one trip to the inlaws in West Virginia made us realize how small the trunk is. Now there’s not enough room in the back of a 93 for two adults and a car seat (I miss my sportcombi), so I’m wondering whether the 94x or the 95 will be a better fit,… Read more »
Rune
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Rune
5 years 9 months ago

Paul, have you checked out the two technical drawings at http://www.saab.co.uk/gb/en/start#/Cars/9-5sedan/facts/technical-data/ ?

The trunk is quite massive. I helped my mum a few weeks ago and she had filled half her living room with trash bags full of old clothes she wanted lorried away. It all fit in the trunk and my mum was a bit surprised. She expected me to have to put one or two in the back seat.

I suspect you’ll do fine with the 9-5 sedan.

Paul Guinnessy
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Paul Guinnessy
5 years 9 months ago
Tried to but it uses flash, which I banned from my system for bad behavior 🙂 I’ve seen some of the 95 specs but there’s nothing quite like hearing other people’s experiences, so thank you for that. The non-flash links just brought up tons of errors. In fact, going back to my original point, I’ve noticed the same thing with nearly every 95 review, they talk about the car as if its being driven by one person all the time, very little about how you would use it day-to-day. The Washington Post’s Warren Brown is supposed to be reviewing the… Read more »
Rune
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Rune
5 years 9 months ago
FWIW: The biggest problem for me so far, is the low height below the rear window when putting the seats down. A 2m long bed fits fine length-wise. No need to adjust the front seats for average height people. But the hatrack (or whatever you’d call the divider directly behind the rear passengers’ heads) is so low that I had to really push to force my bed through the low opening. My bed is 23cm thick… I was quite worried that I would not be able to extract it on my own. 😀 Make sure you try one for yourself… Read more »
Me
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Me
5 years 9 months ago

If you still need some measurements of the trunk, you can try this link
http://www.gmeurope.info/MOPIDB/download.htm?03C2211F4EB01E6D4D0b4a951B11a8D9C8511c9C9c1a6112B8A78EbIGdhfCj

It looks like a temporary link, so it may die in the next hour or two.

Me
Guest
Me
5 years 9 months ago

Can’t say nothing about a stroller and two suitcases, but somebody posted a picture here showing a Cello’s case in the trunk.

And BTW, the Tiguan is a Golf in size; very, very small !!!! 😉

Börjesson
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Börjesson
5 years 9 months ago
Daniel B
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Daniel B
5 years 9 months ago

Just thought of something as I browsed though som pictures fron the Saab Museum visit last summer.

Dear Saab:

Please put his front
on the 9-5

and
Put this dash/ color scheme and materials into the interior:

AND you will have a winner!!!

also:
nice mockup image of Anthony Lo and the Aero X:

wpDiscuz