Zippy drives the Saab 9-5

Zippy’s a regular here at SU and other regulars know he’s been pining for both Saab’s return to his beloved Canada and a chance to drive the new Saab 9-5.

Over the weekend he got to experience both, first hand.

My thanks to him on sharing his experience with the Saab 9-5.

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Last Saturday I had the pleasure of seeing the new 9-5 for the first time which, I might add, looks much better in the metal than in pictures which tend to make the car look very big and bulky. The model I saw was a six speed manual carbon gray base 2.0T with Curve 17inch alloys and whilst the car would would look better with 18 or 19inch alloys (more on than later), taken in its entirety the car looks fabulous!

The slope of the rear deck is my favorite styling feature and the rear end is by far the the 9-5s most interesting external feature. Lets face it, its gonna be the part of the car that most drivers are going to see.

So, to the interior. First thing I noticed is the steering wheel is smaller than in my 9-3SS. The interior quality is by far the best I have ever seen in any Saab even without the sat-nav system and those seats are simply amazing comfortwise with firmness in all the right places and half decent bolsters to keep you in your seat when you wanna have a little fun in the curves.

The all black interior was garnished with the nice wood inserts around the facsia and on the doors and a splash of aluminium but Id get the parchment leather with the cocoa upper surfaces as this would look simply amazing. The fit and finish was to a high standard but I did miss the cool-to-the-touch aluminium metal interior door handles that my 9-3 is fitted with.

So what is it like to drive? Start the engine and you hear nothing. Is the engine even running? Its that quiet at idle. The shifter has a nice short throw and is very smooth in its action but it didnt stop me stalling it first time. Rob, the sales consultant at Springman’s, told me he did the same thing when he first drove the car so I didnt feel so bad.

The 9-5 feels like a totally different car to the 9-3 but it would only take a short time in the car for it to “shrink around its driver” and feel like the sporty car it quite obviously is!

Second major thing I noticed was that the steering has significantly more feel than I am used to which is one of by “issues” with the 9-3SS. It seems much more responsive to input and is nicely weighted. On the road the car is very very quiet and the only time you would ever hear the engine was when you gave it a bit of gas. I loved the altimeter style speedometer so much that I rarely even looked at the needle which more often than not showed that I was going faster than I thought I was. Yes, the 9-5 is THAT quiet.

Even the roads in and around our fair city didnt disrupt the cars ride and suspension as noise was very subdued even over potholes. The ride was quite firm but I got the feeling that having 18 or 19inch alloys fitted to the car would make the car a little less floaty. The 2.0T engine gives the car its real Saab character as its peppy and not afraid to rev. If the 2.0T is this much fun the Aero must be an absolute riot!!

We didn’t get a chance to hit the highway (roadworks are horrendous at the moment) but the highway is where Saab’s excel and the 9-5 would be no exception. One thing I did notice is the number of people that gave the car a second look which, lets face it, is not at all surprising.

In summary, this is one heckuva car. Its drop dead gorgeous. Its comfy with a perfect balance between sporty and luxury and for the price its a steal as comparable cars having a sticker price that would easily be 10-15% higher. The only thing I would change would be the alloys. I’d upgrade to a sexy set of Edge rims and use the Curve 17inchers for snow tires. The most difficult choice for me would be the colour. Arctic White? Glacier Silver? Java Metallic?

I’d like to thank Rob at Springman’s Saab in Langley for taking time out from his day to chat about all things Saab and giving me the opportunity to be “the first consumer in BC to ever test drive the new 9-5”.

One last thing I feel I should mention is that we need to understand how difficult this last year or so has been on our dealer network. Dealers are looking forward to getting more inventory at which time I expect we will see much more advertising. We need to understand that “Rome wasnt built in a day” and that our dealers are working very hard with the resources they have to get the Saab name out there. With our support we will be able to look back at all this in a few years time knowing that we did the right thing!!

Sappy
Guest
Sappy
5 years 9 months ago

Well done Zippy, did you find there was enough for Rod, George and Bungle in the back ?

zippy
Guest
zippy
5 years 9 months ago

Of course, its a 9-5. No headroom issues for me in the back but then again I am only 5’11” tall.

Robert P
Guest
Robert P
5 years 9 months ago

Just a remark, I find it funny to see this: Saab drivers are so spoiled with their alloys (no offense to you, Zippy) that we all complain about 17 inch rims. BMW 5, Mercedes E and Audi A6 mount 16inch standard – at least in Europe – and upgrading is gonna cost you.

Carl-Henrik
Guest
Carl-Henrik
5 years 9 months ago

I actually like the 9-5 with 17″ rims. I find it to be a good balance between the bodysize, wheel arcs, rims, and rubber. But yes, it looks good with larger rims as well.

William Hoover (Columbus, Ohio USA)
Guest
William Hoover (Columbus, Ohio USA)
5 years 9 months ago

Excellent review. I’m still very excited about what kind of changes we will see in the 2012 SAAB 9.3….engines…interiors….I know that the 2011 SAAB 9.3s arriving currently in the USA are the same engines and models of 2009 onward…4 cylinder (210hp) GM/OPEL factory in Rüsselsheim Germany….

Tompa
Guest
Tompa
5 years 9 months ago

Calling out to my uncle in Toronto: Buy a Saab!!!

Nice writeup Zippy

Cheers/Tom

Me
Guest
Me
5 years 9 months ago

One small question.
From the pictures I’ve noticed that that 9-5 hat the E85 capable engine. And I’m wondering why?
Is there any tax reduction exemption in Canada like in Sweden because the car can run on E85?

Me
Guest
Me
5 years 9 months ago

It is still unclear (to Me) if this BioPower engine uses a Bosch engine management system.
Does somebody at Springman’s know if the EMS is still showing the Bosch alternator symbol?

Rune
Guest
Rune
5 years 9 months ago

BTW Me: I have been meaning to get back to you on that question.

I poked my head into the engine bay, and could see no logos on that rectangular slab of metal. Is it supposed to be very visible, or am I not poking my head deep enough?

I’ll try to take a picture soon.

Me
Guest
Me
5 years 9 months ago

Don’t know.
I only expect that Bosh is proud enough to put their Logo quite visible.

And at the end of the day, only a comparison with the non E85 capable EMS would bring light into that.

But thank you very much for your efforts. 🙂

Bernard
Guest
Bernard
5 years 9 months ago
There’s no tax exemption for E85 in Canada, however E85 does provide a small advantage in US EPA CAFE ratings. The US and Canada get the same powertrains for logistics reasons, and also because emissions laws are similar. Going by the specs released earlier this year, the 220 HP Biopower engine in the 9-5 should use Saab’s own engine management system, while the 210 HP engine in the 9-3 uses Bosch engine management. That doesn’t mean that the Saab system doesn’t use Bosch components, of course, or that the Bosch system wasn’t tuned by Saab. The 220HP system uses direct… Read more »
Me
Guest
Me
5 years 9 months ago

Bernard,
AFAIK, what you say is partly wrong, and that is why my questions arise.

The 9-3 engine with 210 HP and without DI should use SAAB Trionic 8.
With the 9-5 220 HP DI engine, things get quite complicated. The petrol only version (aka Turbo4) should use Bosch Motronic, otoh the E85 capable version of the very same engine is meant to use something called System 3.
I have no further information about this System 3, therefore I’m curious why the 2.0T 9-5 in Canada have a BioPower4 badge instead of a Turbo4 badge.

Bernard
Guest
Bernard
5 years 9 months ago

I think you are correct. The “new” North American 9-3 should use the same system as the old one, so presumably Trionic 8.

I would also love to know what “Saab System 3” is. I’m assuming that it’s an evolution of Trionic that handles E85, direct injection, and variable valve timing on both camshafts.

Perhaps someone with an inside line can give us the lowdown.

Steve C.
Guest
Steve C.
5 years 9 months ago

Zippy’s assessment of the 2.0T reads like my review a couple of weeks ago. My US test drive 9-5 has the BioPower badge on the right side of the trunk lid instead of Turbo4. Regardless of the badge, the 220 hp Turbo4 engine is designed to run on gas or E85 or any combination of the two. That’s the way they are coming (to North America). E85 is available in the US but mostly in the mid-west.

Me
Guest
Me
5 years 9 months ago

Sorry that I keep on asking about the very same thing. But I’m trying to find out why is Saab not offering E85-capable engines in all the markets, or why is Saab not delivering BioPower4 only engines, and why BioPower4 in North America.

zippy
Guest
zippy
5 years 9 months ago

I believe all 2.0T engines in the new 9-5 are Biopower. I guess Saab in NA wants to push the eco-friendly aspect of the 9-5.

Me
Guest
Me
5 years 9 months ago

Yes, that may it be. Although they could say something about it at saabusa.com 😉

SaabR
Guest
5 years 9 months ago
Zippy, Great write-up! Thanks for coming out to visit, it was a pleasure and I am truly glad you enjoyed the car. We look forward to showing the 9-5 off to as many people as possible and welcome everyone to come out soon. We are also expecting our second shipment any day now too. This should have a few more 9-5s aboard… can you say Aero XWD? 🙂 I say that gives you an excuse for another visit! @Me – I’ll have a peek under the hood when I get in later and see if I can find the answer… Read more »
saabken
Guest
saabken
5 years 9 months ago

Can I say “Aero XWD” ?

Aero XWD
Aero XWD
Aero XWD

Yes I CAN !!!

zippy
Guest
zippy
5 years 9 months ago

Aero XWD. Get in line, SaabKen!!! 😉

Jason Powell
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

Hey guys,
I heard we had another vehicle land in Halifax last week, could it be an Aero XWD??? I don’t know, but I’m feeling lucky. Should have the invoice tomorrow to see which one it is.

Jason

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