First Report: Saab 9-5 1.6T

There hasn’t been much said about the baby of the Saab range to this point. The 1.6T must have just started making its way to dealers as I haven’t read anything about it yet.

One of our longest serving regular readers – Olav S from Norway – recently attended a dealer event and had a chance to drive a couple of 9-5s, including the 1.6T.


Today I was invited by our local SAAB dealer here in Stavanger, Norway, to meet SAAB Norway’s SAAB Convoy. They had brought a lot of cars with them (a lot of different versions of both 9-3 and 9-5), but I was only interested in different versions of the new 9-5 tonight. Earlier this year I test drove the 160 hp TiD with the automatic gearbox. Nice car, but since I don’t care about diesels in fine automobiles I was pretty much excited that today I could take a ride in the 220 HP Aero with automatic and XWD. And I did, BUT, I also test drove a 9-5 with the new 1.6 Litre and 180HP engine!

Some impressions below, I’ll start with the newcomer.

SAAB 9-5 with the 1,6 litre 180 hp engine, blue metallic exterior with cream coloured leather (I don’t remember the codes), manual gearbox, navigation and (I guess) 17” alu wheel on soft winter tyres:

  • The interior is superb, and the cream colored leather suits the car very well.
  • The transmission isn’t the best I have tried, but not bad either. It is slightly ‘sluggish’ in lower gears, mainly 1st.
  • Somewhat soft but very comfortable suspension. Precise steering.
  • Some torque steer occurred under acceleration, but I guess that might have something to do with very soft winter tyres. Not a big problem at all, but this brings me to the next point:
  • I was really surprised how well the small 1,6 engine moved this heavy car. Very impressive if I may say so! On low revs it is a bit ‘lazy’ but when turbo pressure started to build up the heavy 9-5 took off pretty well. The engine runs very quiet, but is slightly more noisy under acceleration than I’d expected. When I got used to the ‘package’ the whole thing really impressed me. Remember: the 9-5 is a big and heavy car, and a 1,6 litre engine isn’t exactly a giant powerplant.

Then I jumped in and took the Aero XWD with 220 hp for a spin. The Aero was fitted with (I guess) 19” turbine wheel, automatic gearbox, HUD, navigation plus more. Colour combination: Silver with dark leather.

  • Colour, external trim and interior is just superb! Very, very good seats, with some new and great adjustments for the front seats. I also tested the rear seat and with my 1,9 meter above ground level I had no problem whatsoever back there. Excellent ergonomics in all seats!
  • HUD is highly recommended. The whole package in that car is recommended!! A must have…..
  • The automatic transmission isn’t the world’s fastest maybe, but I found it pretty good.
  • I also tested the ‘manual’ gear shifts from the paddles on the steering wheel and they worked pretty much faster than my 2005 9-5 but maybe not as fast as the fastest ‘automanually’ gearboxes in this class.
  • The 220 hp engine is pretty fast for this heavy car, and the car is extremely fun to drive especially on twisty roads of all kinds of quality. Very quiet engine, actually the whole car was very quiet. Very high ‘MUST HAVE FACTOR’!

The 9-5 with the 1,6 litre engine felt to have a harder suspension setup than the Aero. I found that strange, but forgot to ask the SAAB representative when I returned the keyless thing.

It’s a short and a fast summary in very bad English, and maybe it’s not news at all, but I just wanted to share my enthusiasm.

I asked my Dealer about how the SAAB sale was going, and he just smiled and said the good old SAAB days are back. When I was out there they sold several new SAABs, and they had also received around 20 new SAABs this month – they were all already sold out to customers. Well, not exactly, the Dealer should keep two as they needed more demo cars.

It was very nice watching the new enthusiasm at my dealer, and what a healthy sign it was to see lots of people queueing in front of the desk, signing their names on the list for test drives.


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