Test drive: 9-5 Hirsch Performance

As I already wrote in a post earlier this week I had the opportunity to take a closer look at the 9-5 Hirsch Performance. The base for the car is the 2,8T V6 Aero. Hirsch added the 330 hp engine upgrade, lowering kit, aerodynamics package, 20″ forged wheels, quad exhaust and leather interior…

9-5 Hirsch Performance

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I just love the looks of the car. It’s sportier but it’s still a 9-5. Designwise there are two details that I want to point out about the body kit. One is that the side sills cover that small grille behind the front wheels. Looks great, especially on a white car. The other is how the rear spoiler follows the lines of the car.

9-5 Hirsch Performance

The big fun begins as you start the engine. The quad exhaust sounds extremely great. From a dark mumble at low revs up to powerful roar at full throttle there is everything in it. I had my window down during my drive on small roads so I could enjoy it even more. That illustrates the fact that inside the car the sound is never annoying. It’s there when you push the car but during relaxed cruising the car is almost as quiet as the standard 9-5. Here’s a small soundbit (it’s not that loud, so you’ll need to turn up the volume on your computer a bit):

I picked up the car near Nürnberg so the first part of my drive consisted of 160 km autobahn to Munich. Luckily there was not that much traffic so I could travel at around 180-200 kph. On a few occasions traffic was even light enough to push the car to about 250 kph. Even at those high speeds the 9-5 Hirsch Performance is remarkingly stable. As you can expect with 330 hp and 430 Nm the acceleration of the car is impressive. One particular thing I liked while accelerating at full throttle was that as the automatic shifts from fifth to sixth gear just over 210 kph you still can feel a push in your back. On the other hand it’s really relaxing to cruise at 180 kph.

Back in Munich I’ve did a roundtrip I like to go with cars I get for a test drive. It features a country road, a bit of up and down with serpentines and – my favourite part – a small, winding and in some parts heavily patched road through a forrest just before I get on the autobahn back home. Despite the 9-5 can not neglect its size I was impressed how well it can handle those small bends even if you dare the car a bit more. I did a good part of that roundtrip in manual mode using the shift paddles and a bit higher revs and yes, that’s a bucketload of extra fun (here and then the tyres let me hear how far I went…). For a moment I almost forgot about the car’s size. 🙂 The autobahn was pretty empty so I could take the car up to 255 kph, my personal best this time as I didn’t want to overdo it just to reach the max speed of 260 kph. I didn’t play with my GPS but I heared from another test that they measured 263 kph as the limiter kicked in. So the HUD speed seems to be pretty exact with the 20″ wheels.

carbon leather dashcarbon leather dash

This car also featured the carbon leather dashboard. I’ve seen already seen a few prototypes during the development but for the first time in the car. Contrary to the 9-3 where the dashboard is replaced with the Hirsch equivalent the parts for the 9-5 consist of a thin platic part covered with leather. These parts have an adhesive tape (like e.g. Mercedes uses to affix spoilers to cars) on the back to stick them to the standard dash. The reason for not replacing the original part is easy: all the buttons and knobs are seperately screwed to the dashboard which in case of replacement would lead to too many working hours for installation.
While I really like the looks of the carbon leather the dashboard will also be available in plain leather just like with the 9-3. It’s a bit hard to photograph but I tried.

Now the white Hirsch has gone back to Switzerland (sniff) and I have to say that I was pretty impressed. I’ve driven the same roundtrip in a standard 9-5 2,8T a while before and I can assure you that I felt the differences the Hirsch stuff makes, especially at high speeds and in quick bends. Not that the standard 9-5 is bad, but if you like it sporty you will get even more fun out of the car. As for the fuel consumption I ended up at about 13,5l/100km which I think is not a representative number as I was pushing almost all of the time. Also, I had no problems with ground clearance even though we have some pretty ugly speed bumps around here. And those looks – I didn’t think I’d ever say that about a white car but it looks just stunning. In metal even better than on those pics.

9-5 Hirsch Performance

Thanks again to Manfred at Hirsch for making this test drive possible.

Red J
Member
5 years 3 months ago

This “carbon” leather looks much better than the plain black leather I’ve seen till now. 🙂

Jeff
Member
5 years 3 months ago

RedJ doesn’t miss anything (which is another reason we love him so much). I have to agree, great looking dash. What’s preventing Hirsch or a third party from just CNC milling their own actual dash panels though? Can’t be too hard, especially given it’s mostly flat. I use a CNC machine at work all the time.

Joe Lobo
Member
5 years 3 months ago
Hirsch is another crowd like Maptun where loyalty vs risk has been taken to the highest of extremes as they’ve been banking on the success of Saab and built a huge dependency on their business based on this fact. I’ve stated this over and over, but Saab should make Hirsch as their defacto premium/performance option for all cars and deliver these in every market were a presence exists. The quality, design to compliment and overall impact for both appearance and performance simply enhance Saab to levels comparable to M, RS, AMG that other brands have excelled. Really, Saab should put… Read more »
mike saunders
Member
5 years 3 months ago
Whoa, Joe….. A few tweaks aren’t going to put this car into M, RS, or AMG territory…not by a long shot. A better comparison would be the Hyundai Genesis, mostly because Hyundai has a history of copying Saab styling and design cues. The Hirsch upgrade to 330-hp brings the 9-5 to just below a base model Hyundai Genesis, which is about $15,000 cheaper than an un-Hirsched 9-5! If you want to compare Hyundai’s performance model, the R-Spec, to the Hirsch, then the gap is even bigger. The Hyundai’s V8 delivers 429 bhp…and still slays it in torque. Hyundai stopped using… Read more »
mike saunders
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Sorry for the errant bold!

Jeff
Member
5 years 3 months ago

No worries, all fixed. 🙂 You’re right that it’s incredible what Hyundai has done with the Genesis, especially with price, but like you, I just can’t get into Hyundai like Saab.

Joe Lobo
Member
5 years 3 months ago
Well Mike, how well do you know and how many Saabs have you had ??? Doing a comparo with Hyundai is like suggesting that a Chrysler 300C is a match to a Jaguar XF. Two different worlds weather the earlier is faster or not. As for not matching the Ms, RSs, AMG and others is always subjective but from a value for money point a Hirsched Saab is simply superior in that scaling. Regardless, Saab has to have a distinctive branding to offer a higher premium & performance options in a defacto status. Hirsch no doubt in my opinion clearly… Read more »
mike saunders
Member
5 years 3 months ago
Well Mike, how well do you know and how many Saabs have you had ??? That’s a fair question. My first Saab was an 86 C900T, bought in 1988. I’ve owned six since then. My parents, now retired, have driven Saabs exclusively for most of the past 30 years. Doing a comparo with Hyundai is like suggesting that a Chrysler 300C is a match to a Jaguar XF. Two different worlds weather the earlier is faster or not. If only this was this case. The problem is that Hyundai (among other manufacturers such as Nissan, Infiniti and Acura) has equalled… Read more »
Joe Lobo
Member
5 years 3 months ago
Excellent and I am glad you responded. I love having these kinds of exchanges every now and then. Most importantly is that you are a true connoisseur of Saabs and an owner for a long time. Well, at the end of the day in my neck of the woods (Sydney) it all comes down to who has got more ba…..s to push to extreme limits on a normal road and risk loosing your driver’s license. Touching on 120K/h in a 60 zone will cost you dearly but I can tell you that when we both hit it my TurboX was… Read more »
mike saunders
Member
5 years 3 months ago
Joe, I definitely agree that in many cases, those lettered cars just aren’t worth the extreme premium, especially when the competition continues to improve. The latest edition of the supposedly lowly Ford Mustang was just a tick behind the M3 on the track in several recent comparisons, so that’s probably worrying the burghers in Bavaria. I’m definitely in the minority with this opinion, butI think each coming Saab needs both a stripper version to secure the bottom end of the market from undercutting by Hyundai and friends, and also a top-level performance model to seriously challenge the other European brands.… Read more »
Edik
Member
5 years 3 months ago

this car is so amazing…i hope i will get one in the future 🙂

mikaik
Member
5 years 3 months ago

It looks veeeeeery aggressive.

phermansson
Member
5 years 3 months ago

I love the article and I absolutely love the sound of this car!! =D

m.i.b
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Pretty 🙂 But I like original look more. I’m not a sport man.

dcpattie
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Sometimes I’ll get a nice little throaty burp in my 9-5 2.8T, I know many think the stock exhaust on the 9-5 is to quite but I think it’s about right. However, I do like the looks of the diffuser but wonder if I’ll need to remove the entire rear bumper to install it?

Red J
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Hi,
no the diffuser is attached to the original bumper (don’t ask me how?) You can even, with the exhaust outlets, attach it to a non Aero 9-5.

saabboy1
Member
5 years 3 months ago
Till 72, great write up on this car. I use to drive that road all the time when I was based in Bamberg. I know there are two straight a ways where you can go as fast as the car can allow. Anyway I agree completely with JoLobo that this package needs to be available at the factory in Trollhatten. The customer should have the option of having it done at the inception of the build process. I hope this happens soon. Never the less I will be getting this car (Black Color) next year, with the Hirsch performance kit.… Read more »
Jonas Axelsson
Member
5 years 3 months ago
Joe Lobo, I thought Hirsch was the official provider to Saab for performance tuning? Academic for here in the US however since there are no dealers who will admit to being on a Hirsch list despite all of the rumors. I think you can get Hirsch wheels and trim through State of Nine but the performance products are not available and there are no plans to unveil them. I wish Hirsch would come out with an official statement on the status of the US products particularly where they have excluded any of the performance engines from performance upgrades. Saab is… Read more »
Jeff
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Tim Colbeck was very enthusiastic about Hirsch support in the US, so I think it’s just a matter of time before they launch a full program for real here. It will happen, the question isn’t if but when.

Jonas Axelsson
Member
5 years 3 months ago

If anyone knows this fellow and has an in, tell him to put the 280 horse motor back in the program. Really, marketing wise this, IMO, a mistake taking it out.

JasonPowell
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Should be really soon. I was told a while back 60-90 days for Canada and I think that would have put it somewhere in the summer, I guess time will tell.

Jonas Axelsson
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Well Jason you folks up north sure show patience and when I feel sorry for “us” with my drive of 45 miles to get a car serviced, I think of you folks. I used to have two dealers within 15 miles.

When I read of some getting a hotel room for the night when they come in for service my ride is much easier.

JasonPowell
Member
5 years 3 months ago
rallyho, as a dealer, we do what we can. The only people out our way that would get a hotel room would be people from the Island or the Okanagan and I’m not sure why they would do that if they are from the island because the GM dealer in Victoria is supposed to have a service contract with Saab (unless they’ve stopped doing this). Kind of a catch 22 for dealers too, not many prospective dealers would be willing to become a Saab franchise until they see some results from us that are here now. Then there is us… Read more »
Joe Lobo
Member
5 years 3 months ago
Well, you try and buy a dealer delivered Hirsched Saab outside some European countries and you got Buckley’s than not to get it. Now, you try and find any Hirsched models promoted and advertised in Saab’s own literature or web sites and see what you find !!! Let us know the result. The only “official” endorsement is for warranty cover whereby no voidance of such if you equip your vehicle with Hirsch parts. Saab needs to take a proper step and clearly make Hirsch part of their official catalogue in all markets. Otherwise all we have is words and no… Read more »
Jonas Axelsson
Member
5 years 3 months ago
But again, with the 280 horsepower engine out of the Hirsch group they don’t have anything to offer me. That is sad and reading this 330hp boost for the 9-5 got me pumping but alas, then reality sets in. That would have been the ticket and those 50 horses you will feel real gain and while not a powerhouse, it would make it quite exciting since our dear X vehicles are a bit on the portly side with a few extra pounds. Hirsch needs to understand wives and household budgets. If I write check or exercise the credit card at… Read more »
Finsbury
Member
5 years 3 months ago
Have had my 9-5 with the Hirsch upgrade for a couple of weeks now and defintiely feel the difference between that and how the car drove before, especially the more straight line torque as you over take. The exhaust is great as well, has the same rumbling but not as noisy as on my previous Hirsch tuned Turbo X (which I think is appropriate for the 9-5 as an exec saloon). Also the springs while reducing the car by 10mm, definitely make the car noticeably more hunched than a standard 9-5. Mine is running on 19″ blades and am in… Read more »
Jonas Axelsson
Member
5 years 3 months ago
Finsbury, I must say that I am green with envy. That 330 horse sounds so nice. I do not want a tire burning monster machine but with that range (330), it will certainly put a smile on won’t it? The one mod of only 15 horsepower, people who seen to know tell me it is mostly statistics and lines on a graph and it is hard to really feel it. My former car had 335 so I know what to expect and that is where I want to be. Oh well, think of us when you are on a smooth… Read more »
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