Zippy and the Saab 9-5
March 13, 2011 in Saabology
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”.