Saab 9-5 – the people’s road test (part 1)

OK, it’s high time I got to answering your questions about the Saab 9-5, from my first hand experience with the car a few weeks ago….. or as many of the questions as were sensible, at least 🙂

Simply, does it feel premium enough?

I’ve written plenty about the dashboard and the first run cars do suffer from that a little, but the design is absolutely fantastic and it’ll look tip-top once that’s sorted. In driving terms, I thought it felt fantastic. I don’t drive ‘premium’ cars for a living, so I can’t compare, but I was mighty impressed.

How much does the 9-5 Vector with the 2.0TiD 160hk weigh?

The car weighs between just over 1,500kgs for the lightest model and just over 2,000kgs for the heaviest. Specific weights for specific trim levels and engines weren’t given.

How does the balance and traction feel when accelerating hard out of a second/third gear corner? Primarily with the fwd 220 hp version. Does it roll much? Does it have understeer?

I’m not sure what you’re looking for in this question in terms of this car. It’s a big 5-meter long executive cruiser, so to expect it to turn a corner like a sports car would be unfair. But with the 4-cyl petrol engine, it does feel smaller than it is and personally speaking, I had a huge smile on my face driving this car on the winding roads to Hallerad.

My car had XWD, however. I didn’t drive the car with the standard chassis, which the Irish journos were complaining about in terms of body roll when I was there (in a TiD). I can’t comment.

How good is the throttle response when accelerating hard through gears?

In the V6 – awesome. In the 4-cyl – slightly less awesome, but still quite good.

If you get to drive cars with different wheelsize; How does bigger wheels (19-20″) affect the steering?

Sorry, not sure. I have a feeling both cars I drove had similar wheel sizes.

Is DriveSense worth while; do you feel the difference between the 3 different programs?

Absolutely. The difference between comfort and sport in quite marked. Intelligent is less intelligible, but it works.

What about the HUD? Do you think it is of use, or is it only a “me-too” gadget.

It’s fantastic! I had it on the whole time. I’m unsure about justification in terms of cost, but if you get it I think you’ll use it quite a lot. It’s invaluable when paired with SatNav.

How does the TiD perform, can that engine cope with such a big car?

Didn’t drive it, I’m afraid.

I hope you can drive a Linear, so we can get an impression of the GID Radio and the cloth seats, well of the whole base package, I think many can only afford that.

I drove Vector and Aero, but I did sit in one of the cars with cloth seats, which were actually quite good. The material felt quite good and the seats gave pretty good support.

I didn’t use the standard radio and would be surprised if many (or any) of the press cars had it as they would likely have had SatNav.

Can somebody tell you what is Saab System 3.

I did ask about this, but I didn’t ask the right person and didn’t get an answer that was sufficient to reproduce here (and can’t remember it properly now anyway. Apologies.

Many seem to be quite concerned about the current available rims, can we expect some “extra” rims in the near future?

No answers at the moment. I think what we’ve got is what we’ll have until at least 2012.

What I´d would like to know is if there are any indications on how heavy a trailer can it take? I have a caravan so it might be essential in my purchase.

1600 / 2000 kg depending on whether it’s braked or unbraked. But it doesn’t say what engine that relates to.

Is there any USB-connectivity options for the rear headrest displays?

The rear displays are primarily powered by the DVD player in front, but there’s also old-fashioned analog connectors in the back which can be used to feed the screens.

When driving semi-offroad….. I am curious what gives you the best ground clearance; sport or comfort drive-sense.

DriveSense doesn’t control clearance, only response. SportChassis will lower the car by 10mm.

I am a bit concerned about the Swedish AMS mentioning not so tight fit and finish… I always enter the drivers seat, close the door, and then go over all panels, handles and stuff, to see how they “feel”, pushing and pulling everything.

People saw my photo which highlighted, quite unflatteringly, a gap in the center console. It wasn’t anywhere as noticeable in person. Everything I touched felt like the materials were good and construction was solid. Even the plain black dash ‘felt’ good if you touched it, but how often would you do that anyway – you’d touch the buttons.

There were no unexpected noises or squeaks and rattles during my 2 days driving.

Finally, ask the Saab people you meet what they say when comparing the old 9-5 with the new 9-5 figures on weight, 0-100 times, mpg or Lpkm and CO2 issues

Am not sure why you’d bother. It’s heavier, but it’s much bigger. Other stats would be comparable relative to size but none of this is really relevant in my eyes because it’s a completely new car with a new driving experience. Unless these figures are way better or way worse, it’s more of a distraction than anything else.

My advice: Enjoy the space and enjoy the drive.

How does the steering feel when driving straight roads? Does it center by itself after You turn the steering wheel and let go?

I didn’t pay attention to this as much as I should have (i.e. I can’t remember clearly as I write this) but I do comment on this on a video (that’s not been published yet) and state that the self centering seems pretty good. I must admit that it’s not something I’ve ever paid much attention to in the past so I don’t have a great frame of reference to compare it with.

I know that’s pretty vague, but it’s the best I’ve got.

Low end power of 2.0 turbo (220 hp), when cornering in suburban area, will the engine pull properly when under 1500 revs per minute, say even close to 1000 rpm, with 3rd or 4th gear?

Another test I didn’t do, but I can safely tell you that the 2.0T is a great engine and pretty flexible. If it’s not pulling the way you’d like at those low revs, well that’s what 2nd or 3rd is for.

Seats of the car? How well do they fit for large people (over 6 foot 2 inches tall)? Especially the legroom in driver seat concerns me. I´d like to know is there much difference between Linear and Aero front seats.

There’s plenty of leg room. I’m just a tad over 6 feet tall and unfortunately, couldn’t grow a few inches for the road test (cheeky of me, I know) but don’t worry, there’s plenty of room.

As mentioned in my road test, the Aero seats are absolutely superb. As mentioned above, I didn’t test a Linear, but the seats in the 2.0T Vector I drive were also very supportive and the cloth seats I sat in at the Launch Center felt quite good too.

I would like to know how big the trunk is.

It’s really big. I don’t know your family requirements but maybe waiting for the wagon to replace your current wagon would be appropriate. But the boot is very big. 515 litres in capacity,

See if you can get to drive the 1.6t and 2.0t and 2.0TTiD.

There were no 1.6s there. Ditto the TTiD. But the 2.0T I drove was an absolute joy. Still quick enough but feels much lighter than the V6.

The 2.0T would be my choice.

I’d like to know the weight of the FWD basic engine cars

See above.

Check if they are already working with Vialle and the likes on LPG conversion…

My guess would be ‘no’ at this point. If this is happening it would be a dealer job at the moment, like the BioGas jobs being done by ANA.

Try to snoop around and gather as much intell as possible on the upcoming estate, when talking to developers, stress the fact that there are soon to be daddies of 4 kids around that need the 3rd row of seats in the Combi

Unfortunately I was a little busy with the sedan, but I have seen the Combi, last September. No 3rd row mentioned at the time and none since, but then again the specific question wasn’t asked. One may have to learn to keep it in one’s pants 🙂

How does the automatic shift behave compared to manual when is comes to fun driving. What’s the semi automatic option like?

I’m at a slight disadvantage here because I was driving the manual sitting on the left, where I’m used to sitting on the right. It makes a difference shifting with your opposite hand. That said, I’m a manual guy and even with the sloppy shifting I was doing, I still enjoyed the manual gearbox in the 2.0T more than the semi-auto in the V6.

The semi-auto does shift quicker in this car than what I remember from previous Saab semi-autos and buyers of automatics should like it. But I’m (still) a manual guy.

When will I be able to order a 95 sportcombi TTiD AWD?

Eventually, yes.

Will there be a saab-designed ski box available?

I’ve not seen anything on accessories yet, but given Saab’s relationship with Salomon, which I think is continuing, it would make sense that something will be available in due course.

How [tall] are you? Most of the complaints from journalists are the backseats headroom. Can you try it and see why they are complaining?

I’m just over 6ft 1in tall and as you might have seen from the photo I showed, there was headroom clearance for me in a car with the optional, and space-stealing, sunroof.

Others have complained, however. I think it comes down to your torso length rather than your total height. Those with longer legs and an average torso should be fine. Your predisposition to feeling claustrophobic would play into this, too.

Where can you stash your mobile phone, sunglasses, house keys, the letter you keep meaning to post, the de-icer spraycan, the extra sunglasses you forgot you had, the chocolate bar that’ll do for lunch on that long drive, the Tom tom when not stuck to the screen, the multiple chargers and leads for all the gadgets, your Saab cap, your CD collection, your ipod, etc etc

The center console storage is quite deep and has two levels to it. There is another ‘bin’ between it and the gearshift, which has two cupholders and other space. There are bins in the front doors which are also reasonable large, as well as map pockets in the front of the seats. Of course, there’s also the customary glove compartment, too.

Your mobile phone can stay in your briefcase as you have bluetooth. Your sunglasses can go in the top level of the center console bin, your house keys should be in your pocket so you don’t lose them and you should have posted that latter days ago so don’t blame the car. The de-icer can go in the glove box, the extra sunglasses wouldn’t be forgotten in the car, they’d be in the junk drawer at home. Stop eating chocolate for snacks. The Tom Tom can go in the deeper center console bin if you want to keep it in the car (if you don’t have SatNav) as can the chargers (there’s enough room). Your Saab cap can go on your head and you don’t have a CD collection any more, you have an iPod or 10GB of storage in the car itself.

I would like tot test the engine for a long run on several speeds, preferably above 120 kph.

As you noted in your question, this wasn’t really possible in such a short test, but I can tell you that the car is very stable at speed. No problems there.

I for one would like to know how hard it is to replace the oil filter.

I’m pretty sure that if I’d asked they would have told me that my Saab trained technician would find it quite easy 🙂

How is the view from the driving position?

Fantastic. It’s great they way they’ve done the A-pillar as once again, despite the airbags and strength in these things, it doesn’t impinge on driving at all.

It’s a big car so you’ll most likely use the mirrors and parking sensors when reversing, but visibility is quite good. I was very impressed.

Use an USB key and listen to Griffin up when you will drive this great 95

I did! And the USB finction is really easy to use. I had several folder with documents, etc, on my USB stick and it just goes through the whole lot and picks up all the music files. Fantastic. Sound quality is brilliant, but then it was the premium stereo.

What are the 3 green lights on the dashbord right above on the MAP/GPS?

If I recall correctly, they’re the hazard lights (top), child lock (middle) and all locks (bottom).

So, how would the 9-5 cope in the real world of parallel parking and multi-storey car parks?

You described quite a tight area in your fuller question, but bottom line, this is a big unit at 5m in length. It turns reasonable well with an 11+m turning circle, but there will be limits as to its mobility in exceptionally tight spots.

Merge onto a motorway from a standing start

No problems with the 2.0T and V6 that I drove. 0-100 in 7 seconds for the V6 and just a second more for the 2.0T.

Drive along a pot-holed road at 50-60 km/h

The roads we drove in Sweden were pretty good, even the ones off the beaten track. I’m not sure how the 9-5 would handle your roads but it sounds like they’d be unkind to most cars.

Speed, the top spec model is slow- can Saab publish the Hirsch staging upgrades or even factory fit them prior to delivery-some folks would love that!

The top spec model isn’t slow. In fact, speed when you need it – from 80kph upwards – is copious. The car will outperform the abilities of 95% of the people who own it.

I’m sure Hirsch options will come in good time, and as is the case nowadays they’ll be available at the dealership in applicable countries. It’s the expansion of this availability that we’re after and I think Saab management have a desire to make them more available.

I would love to know more about the plans for prem spec interior? Will it evoke rock and snow, fire and ice, pine and super quality leather hide? Will it be the Nordic Extreme?

Saab staffers are quite reluctant to talk about things that’ll be available in the future because it takes the focus off what’s available right now, which is the stuff they’ve got to sell.

Spec sheets have indicated some wood trim for the future, as well as the ice-fascia for the dash. These are supposed to come MY2011 however with the unexpected supplier problems that are happening……

All I know is they’re aware off the need for better interior finishes and I take them at their word when they say they’re working hard on it.

How high does the maintenance schedule go? I’d like to see a full schedule up to 400,00km. It shows confidence on the part of the manufacturer that their car can last.

That’s a great question that I didn’t get an answer to. Will email someone about that now and include in Part 2.

1. Where does one put their purse?
2. How does someone 5 feet 1 inch fit in the new 9-5?
a. get(step) in and out of the 9-5
b. vision, front and rear
c. would a woman want to drive it

1. In the center console bin. Plenty of space (unless she’s rich with a big, big purse)
2a. Ingress and egress are fine with wide-opening doors. Someone at 5-1 will be more than fine. If anything they may get a little lost in there.
2b. As mentioned earlier, I think visibility is fine. If you’ve got the higher spec seats then you have electric adjustment including height, but I’m sure all seats have height adjustment.
2c. Who the heck knows what women want? I’ve always said I could have three daughters and thirty grand-daughters and still be perplexed by the female mind. Does she like driving big cars? This is a great big car.

Please find out how many human bodies can fit in the trunk.

I’m sure you’d get two Swades in there, which means three normal sized people. Maybe four if you break some limbs.

…….hopefully the “handling test” will consist of demanding things such as:

1. Slalom
2. Lane change exercise
3. Autocross
4. Wet skidpan handling
5. Wet/dry autocross

See the video, done in the wet. With XWD, this thing sticks like poop on a blanket.

I’m interested in throttle response, actually. I don’t want to have to consider a Maptun or similar within weeks of purchase.

I think performance nuts will go for a tune, anyway. The V6 is plenty quick, especially at speed, and the 2.0T is plenty fun. But chipping cars is in the blood for performance people, regardless of how good it is out of the gate.


OK, I’m done for the moment. That’s 3,000 words in one sitting. OK, half of them were yours, but you know what I mean.

I’ll get to the rest shortly……..

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