Saab 9-5 Test Drive – First Impressions

The first drive leg of the 2-day test drive is over, driving from Landvetter airport in Gothenburg to the Saab Launch Center in Trollhattan.

My allotted car was the big daddy – the 2.8T V6 Aero with XWD and every other three-letter-acronym you can ask for.

This is just a quick impression whilst I’m waiting for the presentation here at the Launch Center. And that quick impression is……. superb!

I’ve got heaps of photos and a little video, all of which I’ll get to later. But I can tell you this much right now:

The new 9-5 is one heck of a leap forward for Saab. Equipped as my one was, with pretty much everything there is to offer, this is a car that’s quite versatile. When pressed, it really will go like a madman. When you want to kick back and relax, it’ll coddle you in its leathery ventilated seats and carry you along beautifully.

Is it perfect? No, it isn’t. And I’ll get to those things that can use some more work in a more detailed review later on.

What it is, though, is one heck of a good car to drive. It’s as good a launchpad for a new vehicle range that you could hope for if you’re a company that had a factory that was closed three or so months ago.

Big highpoints:

  • The amenities available in the interior. I’m not usually a gadget guy but the sheer amount of technology available is only overshadowed by the brilliant way it’s all been integrated.
  • I just drove for two hours and anyone who says these seats aren’t as good as previous seats is kidding themselves.
  • It’s fast. Pickup in the 80-130km/h range brought back memories of the volumes they wrote about the 9000 Aero.
  • It’s very, very stable. One of the things about driving on unknown roads at speed is that occasionally, you get caught out in the bends as they tighten unexpectedly. The XWD system in this car is brilliant.

Room for improvement:

  • Living with the plain flat-black dash panel (it’s missing the decor panel that was on the show cars) was a lot more pleasant than expected. It will lift and be even better when they get that decor panel situation sorted out.
  • Engagement – This car is fast and it grips like a cat, but there’s still a little bit of emotion missing. I can’t put my finger on it completely, but lets just say it doesn’t feel as quick or as grippy as it actually is. There’s some mongrel missing.

There’s a lot more to talk about and explain. There’s a lot more driving left, too, with our group having a date with the test track at Volvo tomorrow.

That’s when we’ll get to see a little more of what the 9-5 can do.

Right now, I’d be very happy to agree with the four stars handed out by much of the Swedish motoring press so far. Having driven the car for myself, I’d say some of those harsh reviews we read from Britain were overly harsh.

I’ll try to get some more detailed content out later tonight, but let’s just say it’s been an impressive start.

I’m also hoping to get some seat time in the 2.0T and TiD tomorrow. I’m not actually scheduled to drive those, but I think you’ll agree it’s kinda necessary.

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