Zippy and the Saab 9-5

Zippy’s a Saab 9-3 owner and one of our long-term family here at Saabs UNited and I know he’s been very keen to get behind the wheel of a Saab 9-5 V6 for some time.

Last weekend he had the chance to drive an Aero, courtesy of Rob over at Springmans Saab in Vancouver, Canada.

Zippy was kind enough to send in his thoughts.


I’d love to be able to say I actually laid down $70,000 and drove away with a massive smile on my face – as well as a huge hole in my savings – but in reality I had taken my car out for an inspection when Rob handed me the keys to a 9-5 Aero with a stunning dark cocoa and parchment leather interior and told me to ‘enjoy’.

The car was loaded with every conceivable option except a sunroof. At first the sight of all of those buttons seemed overwhelming bit in actuality they are intuitively laid out and after ten minutes in the car I was an expert.

I am not big fan of automatic transmissions, but the paddleshifters, in reality, have about 80% of the fun factor of a manual, which surprised me. If I were to have an auto I’d never have the car in Drive choosing to shift “on the fly’ as it makes the car just that much more enjoyable – and drivable.

Drivable? In Drive I found the car was a little reluctant to downshift when you put your foot down, even when in Sport mode. Heading out to the highway I decided to see what the car was capable of merging into traffic. I found my slot and floored it….my response was “holy $h1t” – said out loud – as a smile grew from ear to ear.

I loved the HUD, which was easy to read and showed my current gear when in “flappy paddle mode” as well as my speed which seems to reach high numbers in no time. Its a huge safety feature as I never had to take my eyes off of the road to check speed etc.

The engine doesn’t even feel turbocharged to me as it actually feels like a small V8 the way the power is instantly fed thru to the XWD system. I just cannot imagine what this engine feels like in a 9-3 TurboX albeit with “only” 280bhp.

The offramp gave me an opportunity to test the sticky XWD system which didn’t even flicker when I abruptly took my foot off of the gas at the same time as braking trying to trick the system. You would never even know the car had XWD. It just felt like a well balanced, rock solid car. I would love to be able to drive this car up Cypress Mountain with its hairpin turns and sweeping bends to see how it handles on the twisty bits. I didn’t get the opportunity to use the SATNAV system but the car sure looks better with the full colour screen over the green screen that was in the base 9-5 I had previously driven.

Heading back to the dealer I kept getting odd looks from people thinking to myself ‘what the heck is his/her problem?!” until I realised that people were actually looking at the car. A thirtysomething couple in an old(ish) E-Class stopped just ahead of me and to the left craned their necks getting a better look at the cars lines with that “what kind of car is that?!” look on their faces when the woman lowered her window and asked me what it was I was driving. Having explained her it was the new 9-5 I also took the opportunity to tell her who to go and visit if she wanted to get a really good look and take one out for a spin – or better yet replace their ‘German taxi’. They then held back to get a look at the cars behind as I pulled away from the lights. This car turns heads and I can only imagine what kind of response this car would get if it were driven in the busy streets of Vancouver especially in Arctic White.

My final impression? A very roomy rock solid four door sports car with a Jeckyl and Hyde personality. In Comfort mode it wafts along as a luxury sedan should but when switched to Sport mode it turns into a snarling four door sports car with the ride comfort a luxury car.

Is it perfect? It would be if it had a manual transmission. That is why I would have to get a manual 2.0T Aero Hirsched-up to 260bhp with XWD, a set of 19inch Edge rims, DriveSense and that SATNAV with HUD but no such beast exists here in North America so I guess I have to start saving up for the V6 Aero. All I can say is that anyone who owns one of these cars is very very lucky and I am 110% green with envy.

Thanks to Rob and Jason at Springman’s Saab for sharing the car with me and taking time to “talk Saab”.

35 thoughts on “Zippy and the Saab 9-5

  1. Good for you Zippy for taking it for a run!… and managed to fit “turboX” in the article somehow 😉

  2. evil russian dealers / importers, when will they starting selling saabs and having one for test drive…… why it takes so ****ing slow… after reading another 9-5 review i just can not wait until my first test drive.

  3. JEALOUS !!!!!!!!!!!!

    Glad to see you had such a great time, Zippy. Wish I were there.

    I’ve driven the Turbo X. And it was like: “H*** F*** !!!” feeling I had. And while I was driving it (with 3 others onboard), I was being egged on to push it, on a gravelly road. And that beast would not break traction no matter how hard I tried.

    You remember Huey Lewis & The News’ song: “I Want A New Drug” ? Well, modern hi-po Saabs with XWD is it, man !

  4. @Dave. I found I had to keep my eye on the HUD to keep my speed in check. It is a deceptively quick car considering it weighs close to 4500lbs. Add 30bhp and more torque to that equation you could take Jekyll out of the dual personality completely. 😉

    @SaabKen. You have to head out there and give it a go. I so wanna get my hands on a TurboX with a stick.

  5. Completely agree: manual 2.0T Aero Hirsched-up to 260bhp with XWD, a set of 19inch Edge rims, DriveSense and that SATNAV with HUD
    Thats the most attractive combo for pure driving envolvement.

  6. The description of people’s reactions in this piece made me think if it would not be an idea to get more cars on the streets instead of the billboards? What if Saab spend some marketing cash on getting as many of these cars out on the street, so people can actually see it in motion?

    • I revisited this comment thread just to present the very same idea, and you beat me to it!

      It’s very evident that once people see a live 9-5, they realize how stunning it is, and how boring an A6 or similar is in comparison. I’ve heard a lot of “Damn! That’s gorgeous” type comments from non-Saabistas when a 9-5 suddenly appears around the corner.

  7. It maybe enough if some sales people would drive at lunch time with a new car to the places where people are (not malls).

    I think we did discuss about this one or two years ago.

  8. Hey Zippy, I was at Springman’s the previous weekend to get an oil change for my 09 9-3 Aero XWD (with the V6 280 HP and the 6 speed manual). I also took that same white Aero for a test drive too. I had my 13 year old daughter with me, so the first thing we did was figure out all of the electronics. I loved the Nav and Sirius XM radio interface. So much better that the “wall of green” in my 9-3. It took about 10 minutes with the help of my tech enabled daughter to get everything working to our satisfaction, including selecting our favorite Sirius stations (mine is Sirius XMU and hers is Top 20 on 20). The Nav system is really good too.

    Back in December, our WC Saab Club meeting was at Springmans and I rode with Saabken during his test drive of the 2.0 turbo 6 speed version, so it was great to compare. This car was the most basic version and did not have any of the optional equipment. It still had the “wall of green” and we focused only on the car itself, and to really impressed us. You can see the movie here:

    The differences between the NG 9-5 and 2009 9-3 (both with the same engine) are huge. The 9-5 feels like a very luxurious car with all of the guts you would expect for a V-8. The front and back seats were all very comfortable and had tons of room. Finally all of the little things that bug me about my 9-3 are fixed. The I-Pod connection is in the little bin beside the seat instead of having to run a cable into the front of the dash. The whole dash looks really modern and well thought out. (I confess that I found the HUD a bit gimmicky….but so what, its kinda cool.) I did find that the automatic seemed to have a hard timing finding the right gear, and the sports version of the suspension was too firm for this car. In my 9-3 Aero, the firm suspension now feels normal to me but I definitely feel every bump in the road. The 9-3 manual is definitely faster and more agile than the 9-5 and feels a lot nimbler as you would expect. The powerful engine and XWD give you a very confident feeling at any speed. When I got back inside my 9-3 right after my 9-5 test drive though, I definitely felt a bit depressed over the very old fashioned look of my dashboard. Each of those large green pixels on my info display bugged me, and I missed the HD graphics of the 9-5.

    But, the 2.0 9-5 that we drove in December really wins the day. The suspension was perfect and the 6 speed let you have full control over the engine much better than the auto. My conclusion?

    The 2.0T 9-5 with all of the comfort options and the 6 speed manual is the best of all worlds. You might Hirsch it up, but you really don’t need to. My only problem now is that I used to think of my 2009 9-3 as a “new” cars since they really haven’t changed the 9-3 line since 2008. Now my aging interior is looking positively dated. But I still have a massive engine and drive train that is pretty unique. The TurboX and the 2009 Aero XWD stand alone, so I am holding tight until the next big thing.

  9. Hi Zippy,
    Great reading. You mentioned that the car had the cocoa / parchment interior combination, and that is not reflected on any SAAB site as a possible option for the new 9-5 V6 Aero, but solely limited to the Vector versions.

    If your observation is correct, SAAB seemingly now have a wider choice of interior colour combinations also for the Aero.

    That would be absolutely great, since I would love to have the cocoa / parchment combination in an Aero, since I am somewhat “allergic” to black carpets and dashes.

    • Im pretty sure it was cocoa but there are two guys who frequent this site that could shoot down my theory. It didnt look ‘black’ enough to be black, if you get my drift.

      @Dmain. I bet your car is a blast to drive though!!!! 😉

      • The Aero has the Parchment seats with the Jet Black interior, The Turbo6 next to it has the Parchment with the Cocoa dash etc. Maybe you got the two crossed? I will admit, the light interior (parchment) does seem to change how the black looks though. Either way you cut it, they both have their draw and I wouldn’t give either back if it were given to me!

        Dmain – we had a TurboX on the lot for a short time (although in automatic) and it was a blast. If I had one of those or one like yours to drive daily, people would think I was nuts by the big, silly grin on my face while I was behind the wheel. Come to think of it, not actually a bad thing…they get out of your way more quickly!


      • Yes, it is a blast, and I never get tired of it. My favorites drive is Vancouver to Kelowna via the 3a through Manning, Priceton and Penticton; summer or winter (c/o Winter Blizzacks, which I just took off).

        See you at a future WC Saab club outing!

  10. Zippy,
    It was a pleasure as usual! We always enjoy the opportunity to take some time when folks want to “talk Saab” and welcome anyone who wants to come by and chat. As for the test drive… I know you had fun. Judging by the smile on your face whe you got back, maybe too much? 😉

    @ KenH and RedJ. You guys are absolutely correct. Getting the cars out and about definitely raises the exposure to a surprising degree. We do take the cars out locally almost daily. I know I try to get out in them as much as possible and cruise around town during the day. I have actually had someone follow me back to the dealership before so it does work. Unfortunately they won’t give me a full-time job driving a new 9-5 around Vancouver! 🙂

    Whether it’s the 9-3X or the 9-5, come out and drive one. You are able to drive any Saab in our inventory and the more the word gets out, the more of these cars will be out there and the longer we get to be around talking about these awesome machines!

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It is the people like zippy and Dmain, and all the loyal owners and boosters of the brand locally, to folks like Swade and RedJ and now TimR and his team constantly updating all of us, to the guys at the top that will make this new Saab successful. The sense of community and family can’t help but to spill over eventually into the general public. It’s up to every one of us to “talk Saab” any chance we get to get people in the door. I am convinced that once someone sits their butt in a Saab and goes for a drive, they will be hard pressed to remove said butt without thinking about driving it home. We just need to get these folks in the door. Send all your friends! 🙂

    Long winded I know but I get excited when someone has a great reaction driving one of our cars. It puts a smile on my face and makes my day. These are great cars and they deserve great drivers and I will do anything I can to put as many of the two together as I can!

    Springman’s Saab

    • Rob,
      maybe you won’t get a full-time job driving around Vancouver, but if the street presence is the problem (13 Saabs sold so far in Canada), then SCNA should get those cars out in the bigger cities in Canada, using some money from their billboard money. 😉

      Another way of doing it, is giving new customers some incentive (SCNA funded) to wear some big stickers like Till72 does in Munich.

      Maybe people would accept to wear such sticker 1-3 months for a 1.000$ incentive, don’t know.

    • maybe you just need to occasionally “strategically” park a few of the new 9-5’s around town… eg in a prominent downtown location or maybe in front of the local Audi or Merc dealer 😉


  11. A little off topic however I was just in Vancouver this past week for a few days. I’ve been pretty much in every city in the US and could not believe the amount of luxury cars in Vancouver, primarily BMW’s.
    My point being is that there were virtually no Saabs and it was real shame. Obviously the dealers and Saab Canada have a huge opportunity and really have to do something. I thought it was pathetic the few Saab cars I saw (all mostly older versions).
    And essentially ZERO American cars except for some trucks and SUV’s. There were some token “American” cars such as Chryslers and GM that cars are MADE in Canada. This was more pathetic than the lack of Saabs in Vancouver.

    So, what the he** is the problem in Canada?

    • Easy; just take a look at the brutal job Saab North America is doing in terms of marketing and adverstising in Canada. Totally non existant. I would be totally POed if I were the Springmans crew.

      I refer you to the wonderful Saab Canada web site:

      Can you blame a high end motor car shopper for passing this one by? I am trying to interst a buddy who is about to drop $60K on an Acura MDX to wait for the 9-4x and he doesn’t believe that Saab will be in business in a years time. Brutal.

    • dmk I hope you enjoyed your visit.

      You are absolutely correct. There is alot of money here and there are alot of luxury and premium brands cruising around.

      I think what it boils down to is demographics and exposure. There are certain high-end population areas here that prefer BMW I think and when it comes to changing that it ends up being a matter of exposure or lack of.

      Sometimes it’s just a difference in preference. For example, I have a customer waiting for the new 9-5 SportCombi. He will be among the first to have one when it arrives. He currently drives a 2006 9-5SC. He has driven nothing but Saabs since 1979. His wife on the other hand will drive nothing but BMW. Personal preference, nothing more.

      The more exposure Saab can get in this critical time the better. It will not happen over night, but if we can win the battle, one BMW owner at a time, we can take over the world! (ok maybe not so much but you get the idea)


    • Calgary is the same way.

      Plethora of imports, Saab included. The Calgary Saab dealership had a “grand opening” a couple weeks ago, so I suspect there will be some newer Saab’s hitting the asphalt soon.

      Jason Petho

  12. I have yet to sit in a 9-5, but from the pictures I have seen online the dark cocoa and parchment interior is my favorite 9-5 interior.

  13. SaabR,

    Thanks for the note and explaining things a bit. I did have a nice visit to probably the most beautiful city in NA.
    And boy that website it real bad–is your BC dealer even listed?

    And you make sense about the exposure issue. Many questions on how to handle that and not enough answers.
    Perhaps parking one or two new Saabs across the street from that huge Brian Jessel BMW dealership with some signs on them. That is done here in the states although usually at shopping malls and such–not sure if it work near a competing dealership.

    That’s great you are an active member in the Saab community. I wish you luck and the only way your sales and exposure can go is UP which is positive news.

    To your overall car market: I’m real curious as to market share and raw #’s of certain brands in Vancouver. I know in the states there are those raw statistics per market but are rarely published. I’d be willing to bet Vancouver has the highest market share of luxury cars than any US city and that Vancouver is one of BMW’s largest markets.

  14. dmk,
    We do hear you on all accounts. We actually have had cars at 2 malls so far this year, 1 in Langley with 3 cars and 1 right now in White Rock with a 9-5 Aero. Our biggest problem out here is trying to do it all alone. Rob and I on a daily basis are running ideas past eachother trying to think of different things to do. With advertising money being small, we are trying to think outside the box. One thing that we just recently (Saturday) did, was we are offering an additional $1500 to customers off the price of a new 2011 Saab which makes Saab customers loyalty cash turn into $3000 and if they are a cash buyer, there is another $2000 from Saab bringing the total available discount to $5000. Rob runs a blog for us on which this has been released and a direct mail email to Saab customers as well and I run a facebook and twitter page and our web page and we are constantly putting updates out that way. Both Rob and I are both on here constantly as well and I`m sure by now people are starting to see who is Springman`s Saab on here. We will continue to do whatever we can to get to the public and tell our Saab story. We are also going to be a Hirsch dealer when it becomes available, so BC Saab owners can expect to have more options then ever before under one roof. I also have reached out through email to other Saab dealers in the US because they went through this before us and can be a wealth of knowledge. The website, yes we are listed but does it matter? Right now it goes no where. It is being fixed and should be running in the next few weeks. Until then, we have our own site at with new and used cars and new car info and all of our groups on FB, twitter and blogger. Follow us. Rob and I are both available all the time and strive ourselves as being people that will get it done. We want to be more then Saab has ever been in BC and welcome everyone we meet with that kind of service.

    Jason Powell
    Sales Manager
    Springmans Saab

  15. Sales in Canada aren’t about to pick up anytime soon. Saab of North America named this great distributor for the country 10 months ago and the web site, which has been up for 6 or 8 months, is still 2 pages deep, …, 3 if you generously take into consideration that there are 2 official languages in Canada. My 7-year old can do better with iWeb in less than 2 hours!

    I went to Saab Laval (North of the city of Montreal, 2 million people and no dealer on the island) for servicing my 2006 9-3 SportCombi and wanted to take a look at the new 9-3x.
    The dealer experience was nothing short of lamentable (I’ll spare you the details and I am sure nobody from Saab Canada will have the guts to call to get those details).
    It pains me to write this. I love the brand, have been reading this site since it was Trollhattan Saab, actually paid for my 2006 9-3 SC car and was interested in buying a new one, no convoluted lease “thing” required.

    In summary: interesting product, especially in a ear of “more of the same” designs, great history, lots of concept cars & marketing fluff overseas, but an absolutely dismal sales execution on all fronts. We have snow, ice, freezing rain, everything the new XWD system is designed to tackle, but I am sure nobody at Infiniti, Acura, Audi or BMW is losing sleep over our cherished brand in Canada. Saab of North America is certainly not overly concerned either, given their choice of distributor and its demonstrated performance. I love the new 9-5 SC, but I can see parking my after tax money there.
    We need professional and mindful distribution in a hurry, before Saab becomes even less relevant in the Great White North. And that web site really has to go. An automatic redirection to the Saab global site would be of service to Saab cars.

  16. Hey Rob (SaabR),

    What are you guys doing for the auto show ? Need volunteers from SCWC ? Drop us a line on SCWC. I’d like to help if I can.


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