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by Swade

NYT review Saab 9-5

December 12, 2010 in Saabology

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).


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.


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.

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by Swade

Owner review – Saab 9-5 TTiD XWD

December 10, 2010 in Saabology

UPDATE – Pictures added

When XWD was first released, one of the most desired vehicle combinations was TTiD with XWD. The drive system gives you the traction and the diesel gives you the low-end grunt.

That combination is now available in the new Saab 9-5, and a guy who signs in here with the name TTAero recently picked one up. He’s sent in the following for your consideration.


Today, this afternoon, we have had our TTiD XWD for 8 days. And this is my third new SAAB.

The dealer gave us an hour to walk us through the most important features in the car and check all the chosen options.

This happened just before closing time so we took the first trip in on cold, dark and icy roads. We took her for 190 km straight away. The car felt comfortably and stable. This night wasn’t the real testing night, but the impression was very good.

The lighting is phenomenal, and it’s a feature I need where I live because moose, reindeers and deers comes running up the roads. Probably the best safety feature there is and a feature many car makers just don’t care about. All the electronic assistants in the world can’t help you if you don’t see the road or the surrounding areas.

We now have 1100 km on the meter and have done some more testing. The car feels even better now than the first 600-700 km. The fuel consumptions is down and the car makes “less resistance” when changing gears and accelerations. It’s getting smoother. I knew this was going to happen because the same thing happened in my former 9-3 TTiD SC. I guess the car will be broken in after 6-7000 km.

Some thing I did notice and frankly got a bit worried about was the engine sound. At first, it sounded like a pimped bimmer M3 with an exhaust pipe the size of a waste bin when doing 80-110 km/h uphill or accelerating. But after some driving during cold climate I realized that the sound was only apparent until the engine got up to working temperature. And if the outside temp is under 30 degrees C then it takes a bit longer. The temperature inside the car is not a problem since it is equipped with an electric extra heater. I didn’t realize at first that my car was “actually freezing” one bit when I had a warm and comfortably ride. The first 7 days we had no higher temperatures than -20 C. And the record was 32 degrees below zero.

This morning, when driving to work I tried hard to hear that sound. It’s gone! No matter how hard I accelerated, the smoothness, comfort and stability was great.

Now, lets go to the road handling… it is so good. It’s feels surreal and it’s difficult to find the words. I have stopped a couple of times just to “manually” check if the road is slippery. The grip just don’t let go if I’m not provoking it. And if you put your foot down in corners, there is nothing dramatic about it, just a nice flow thru and a constant acceleration.

WARNING: This is addictive.

We have now tried the entire configuration range (Drivesense) and my choice of chassis settings during the cold, dark and icy part of the year is “comfort”. It smoothens out the small but hard ice vibration we have gotten used to and the direct contact with the roads are seldom possible since there is a layer of packed snow or ice in the roads.

This is by far the best winter vehicle I’ve ever driven. Overtaking with 15 cm of snow between the lanes is not a problem. Just turn, accelerate, turn back and you are done!
I do many rentals in my work and compared to those the XWD 9-5 is nothing but wonderful. The A6 (the old), VW Passat, Volvo V70, Skoda Octavia, Toyotas, Ford Mondeos and so on just don’t measure up to this. I’ve tried the Volvo, Audi and Passat as a 4×4, but still there isn’t the same stability, grip and comfort as in my new 9-5. Astonishing is the only word that I can find to describe what I feel.

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by Swade

Saab 9-5 road test

December 7, 2010 in Saabology

I’m not sure that Bedford Today is known as a motoring publication, but by my reading of this Saab 9-5 road test, I’d be happy to say that the people in the region are well served in the automotive department.

It’s not just that it’s a favourable test for the 9-5, it’s more because it’s a very fair test that covers a bit of history as well as the 9-5 itself.

The all new Saab 9-5 Saloon signals the start of a new era for the brand. Sleek, sophisticated and unmistakably Saab, it’s got stand-out looks as well as a fair smattering of advanced technologies and brings a fresh alternative choice to the premium saloon segment.

It seems Saab GB really might be sorting out their test car issues. As with the quick few words posted on EVO last week, this British writer seems to have a grand old time, albeit in the 220hp petrol vehicle.

The 2.0 litre 220hp petrol engine in our test car was the epitome of smoothness once first and second gear had been dispatched. Below that it proved difficult to iron out the fact that it was very eager to get up and running and hence eliminate jerky gearchanges.

No doubting the level of comfort though, which few can surpass.

OK, to be fair, there isn’t a whole lot about actually driving the car in this review, but it was driven and obviously left the writer in a very positive frame of mind, which is a wonderful thing.

Recommended reading.

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by Swade

EVO talk about British Saab 9-5 road tests

November 30, 2010 in Saabology

The Saab 9-5 received very good reviews except when tested by British motoring magazines. This has obviously been pretty distressing because Great Britain seems to alternate between being #2 or #3 on the Saab sales chart.

EVO were one of the few British publications to come out and proclaim an enthusiastic admiration for the Saab 9-5, so like many of us, they were wondering why the Saab 9-5 had been panned by the their countrymen.

In a piece that’s actually written about the 2011 European Car of the Year winner (the Nissan Leaf), they come up with an answer:

Other cars which weren’t on my shortlist were the Meriva (all doors and no driving delight), the Volvo (nothing outstanding here at all) and the Dacia Duster (cleverly designed to be remarkably good for something so cheap, but old in technology and hardly a Car of the Year). So my hit-rate was just three out of seven. My four that got away were the Jaguar XJ (it should have won, given the opposition, but it’s against today’s austerity mood), the Peugeot RCZ, the Nissan Juke and – a wildcard, this – the Saab 9-5.

Let me tell you about the 9-5. It felt good on the press launch in Sweden, but has been almost universally panned here on the basis of the UK-market road test cars. The combination of a lumpy, agitated ride and an overall wooden-ness of feel are the chief reasons, although some have disliked the cabin’s pervading blackness. Saab GB made the disastrous mistake of specifying its press cars with Sport suspension, big wheels and ultra-low-profile tyres, and this was the result.

Stung by the criticism, Saab converted one car to non-Sport spec. I tried this car on disintegrating UK roads and it was brilliant: crisp but fluent, agile well beyond its size, an unexpectedly capable cross-country weapon. This was the car I had in mind when I said on the launch that I’d rather have one than a new 5-series or an A6, and it was a relief not to have to change that view. It deserved its place on my shortlist, being rather more engaging than the Volvo. Sadly, perhaps because some judges hadn’t experienced the Saab in the correct form, too few others agreed with me.

Chalk it up to experience. An expensive experience, but experience nonetheless. Saab have to get these launches right, first impressions and all that.

Thanks to “Me” for the link.

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by Swade

Saturday Morning MADNESS snippets

November 13, 2010 in Saabology

Another day, another sponsor for the Saab (unofficial) ad competition!

With prizes hitting the $1,000 mark, I think we’re going to have to move from a winner-take-all stance to a 1st-2nd-3rd.

More prizes means more winners, so get your entries in!


It’s going to be a MAD weekend here due to the preparations I’ve got to make prior to the LA trip next week. Posting will be slower as a result and this snippets entry will be link with minimal filler because of it.


The Saab 9-5 didn’t make the cut in the European Car of the Year finalists. I still think that award was sewn up by the Alfa Giulietta some time ago.


The Saab 9-5 has been listed as a finalist in the Motor Trend Car of The Year awards, which is a great achievement and good publicity for the company.


I might have to buy a PS3 on November 24. Gran Turismo 5 finally has a date.

Unfortunately, there are no Saabs in the lineup.


The lads over at Saablog-in have found a truly unique Saab 9000 for sale in Sweden.

9000 Wagon, anyone?


Top Gear pose the Saab 9-5 against an Infiniti something-or-other and decide that you should buy a 5-series.

They like the Saab, by the way.

It’s probably a good read if you’ve got time, but I don’t.


Thanks for your questions prior to the LA Auto Show. A number of them have already been answered in these pages over recent weeks, so I’ll probably skip those.

To answer a few:

- there’ll be no 9-4x diesel at launch and Saab won’t identify who they might be talking to about a bigger diesel, either, but I believe they’re working on it (quite earnestly) but these things take time.

- detailed customisation options for any vehicle aren’t likely to be around in the next year or so. You’ve got to bed down the basics before you can move to this stuff.

- I will be asking about global website development, but one should note a comment by Seth on this issue as I believe he’s “in the know”

- I believe we’ll see the 9-5 wagon at Geneva prior to it going on sale Q3 of next year.

- We won’t see the successor to the Saab 9-3 until just before it’s scheduled release (end of 2012). Saab will show a concept car at Geneva next year, but it’s more of a ‘dreamscape’ concept that will point to Saab’s future design language.


From Flickr, Hirsch get all dreamy in Zurich….

Hirsch Saab 9-5 Zurich

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by Swade

Video: Owner review of Saab 9-3 XWD

November 11, 2010 in Saabology

We’re moving offices today, hence computer access is scant.

I’ve checked in to see J-Fan and Eggs have left tips about this series of videos where a new buyer reviews his Saab 9-3 Aero XWD Sport Sedan.

Handles great, very quick, and he’s finding excuses to get out and drive it. Sounds good to me….

On the down side – interior issues.

These are good for those who might be considering a purchase. This guy does his homework pretty well and lays out his reasons for choosing the 9-3 against competitors from Volvo, Audi and Infiniti. He has a few gripes, too, but that’s OK. We all do.



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by Swade

Tuesday Night Snippets

November 9, 2010 in Saabology

Just been to see The Social Network. Very good film.

And on another personal note, can I just say I hope Mark Webber drives the wheels off his Red Bull next weekend and brings home Australia’s first F1 World Championship in 30 years. Go, Aussie Grit!


Saab Netherlands are pushing their cars towards the medical crowd, having just signed a deal offering special discounts to medical professionals there.

There are some 13,000 members in the professional organisation, all of whom will have access to special pricing.

Whilst I couldn’t find the press release they refer to, have the details.


This Saab 9-5 review at EVO isn’t a new one. I think it passed across my inbox last month but I didn’t cover it here.

It’s just passed by again, thanks to Pete Y, and I figured now’s as good a time as any.

It’s a little odd in that EVO are a UK-based publication and the Saab 9-5 copped a fair caning from the press there. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop the writer at EVO loving the new 9-5 and giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

I’d have one over a 5-series or an A6, no question. Objectively it’s as good, in some ways better. Subjectively, it’s about 200 per cent more interesting.

Good stuff, that.


Speaking of the 9-5, if you’d like to know a little more about the origins of the DriveSense system, click here.


I see a yellow Saab every time I walk out my front door. It’s a bit of a clown car, but I’m quite used to it now.

I don’t think I’d get so accustomed to seeing this yellow Saab every day, though.

Thanks to Mark C!

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by Swade

Autoline Detroit look over the Saab 9-5

November 5, 2010 in Saabology

John McElroy looks around the exterior of the Saab 9-5.



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by Swade

Video: Saab 9-5 review by

November 4, 2010 in Saabology

Following is a review of the 2010 Saab 9-5 V6 Aero by Dave Thomas from

Naturally, I’m going to disagree with parts of it (the ‘very rough ride’ bit for starters, which I think might say more about the roads around Dave’s place than the car) but over all it’s good viewing and worth your time.

Thank to Wulf for the tweet!

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by Swade test the Saab 9-5 – find hope

October 31, 2010 in Saabology

You’ve got to love the Irish. They have a way with words.

Any road test with the words “by golly” is one that I want to read. Unlike so many other articles you might come across, you know that someone using that phrase is not trying to be a road testing rock star.

Our author draws parallels between the resurrection of Saab and the resurrection needed in the Irish economy:

This car had a strange effect on me. Let me tell you why. Last year, the chances of me reviewing it were remote. Saab was in its death throes. The obituaries were written. It was effectively on the scrapheap.

Yet by dint of perseverance and God knows what else, somehow it was salvaged. It now has a future. It now has plans…..

…..I am so numb with the gloom of economy and society at this stage I am beginning to wonder if we are anaesthetising ourselves with the bleakness. Sure, an economy is not like a carmaker but there are parallels. And we have to believe we can do a Saab.

He eventually gets to driving the 2.0 TiD as well. It’s not 100% wine and roses, but it is a very good and honest assessment of the car, without the flowery catchphrases you get used to in the motoring press sometimes.He even goes so far as to recognise when his criticisms might constitute nitpicking. Amazing!

There’s praise for the engine, the cabin, the seats and the solid build quality and cruising comfort. On the flip, there’s some downside on the gearbox and dashboard. As mentioned, it’s a very honest assessment.

I’ll let you get to that yourselves. Click here to read the full review over at The Independent.

For a final word, though:

I wish we had the equivalent for dealing with the whiplash of budget cuts. We don’t. But we might take some heart from the Saab experience. We can bounce back. No doubt at all about that. And what a great symbol it would be if we could get the ministers out of their big state cars and into a few Saabs. It might stand as a daily reminder of what can be achieved.

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Boston Globe test drive the Saab 9-5

October 29, 2010 in Saabology

This is one of the bigger reviews for Saab. It’s not Car and Driver, or MotorTrend, or any of those big buff mags. What it is, however, is one of the biggest publications in one of Saab’s biggest markets – The Boston Globe.

One great point about the review is their coverage of the campaign waged by enthusiasts to support the sale of Saab. It really emphasises the point that this is a company that was worth fighting for. The new Saab 9-5 is the first reward for that fight.

……when GM said in December that it would “wind down” Saab after failing to sell it, they couldn’t issue another press release and walk away. Saab dealers had become used car lots as GM halted production. Saab loyalists were furious.

Through their rage in the media, protests at GM headquarters, and outpouring of support to local dealers, Saab fans convinced GM to allow a proper sale in January to Dutch-based Spyker Cars.

The review comes out quite favourably for the Saab 9-5, too, although I wish the author had concentrated a bit more on the 2011 range than on the 2010 car he was driving. The focus on what is a very short model year takes some of the shine off the car as a potential drawcard for customers in the Boston market.

Some other snippets…..

Now that it’s here, the 2010 9-5 is a modern, distinctive luxury sedan. The blacked-out pillars, angled roofline, turbine fan wheels, and blue-tinted light surrounds create an elegant form. Green interior lighting dresses up the trademark “egg crate” vents and sleek driver-oriented dashboard…..

…..When you’re not manhandling it, the 9-5 feels quiet and unobtrusive. Directional stability and rain-sensing wipers were top-notch as I forged through a heavy storm, following a convoy of journalists from the Poconos. I was one-handing the 9-5 as it got pelted and drenched, tuning the radio to country and sinking into the firm, ventilated seat. This is the only time I’ll say this, but there’s no chance I’d have traded it for my colleague’s Corvette ZR1.

Click here to read the full article at the Boston Globe.

And well done to my good mate at Charles River Saab, Pierre Belperron, for setting up the test. Good pro-active stuff!