SCWC check out Saab 9-5, Springmans Saab

We’ve been following events related to Saab’s reintroduction into Canada for some time now and one of the dealerships that’s been in contact quite regularly through comments is Springmans Saab in Vancouver, BC.

Last weekend, Springmans hosted a group from the Saab Club of Western Canada. Around 10 cars and 20 people attended and many of them got to see and drive the new Saab 9-5 for the first time.

SaabKen is a both at Saab Central and here at SU and he emailed me the following report from the weekend.


At our December 18th club meet, we went to visit Greater Vancouver’s first (and so far only) post-GM Saab dealership, Springman’s SAAB.

Their staff greeted us with tremendous hospitality (you know who you are, gents …. ). Some of us luckier ones got to sit in, and test drive, the 9-5. They only have the turbo 4 (6-spd) at the moment, but will be getting the Aero Turbo6 XWD in the next month or so. New inventory for Canada is still trickling in.

Below is some very limited footage of my drive (only out of the dealer lot, since all the parts where I was cruising supersonic we’re not allowed to post cuz a certain important somebody from Springman’s is sitting shotgun ).

Oh, the DI 2.0T (220hp) turbo 4 was sweeeeet and if anyone thinks it’s inadequate for the 4,400lb 9-5, you HAVE to drive it first to see how sweet it is, or else shut the heck up. I think in the clip I shifted up to 2nd at 4000rpm but it likes to rev. The shifter was still a bit too Saabish (read: notchy) for my taste, but at least the throws were short and the shift knob shaped perfectly. Torque steer ….. nada. Turbo lag ….. nada.

Here goes…. (two other SCWC-ers heard speaking from the backseat)


I’ve not driven the Aero obviously, but I can easily imagine years of me happily driving with the turbo 4 without any urge to step up in horsepower nor the fancy driver-adjustable suspension setup. But I’m quite curious how different the FWD and XWD feel in spirited driving.

I’ve posted some pics here (and note how tiny the 96 looks compared to the new 9-5! – SW).

And also one other highlight is meeting a new member to SCWC, Jason, who brought his ’73 96. He also has a Sonett (in rebuild mode, I believe).

Again, my big thanks to Jason Powell and Rob Adolph for their time and hospitality. We look forward to being part of another event with Springman’s Saab in the near future.



40 thoughts on “SCWC check out Saab 9-5, Springmans Saab”

  1. The BioPower gauge is a curious one…

    Supposedly, what we get in the winter is E75. I expected to see this reflected in the percentage displayed. But it happily never budges from the 100% E85 mark. At least not in my car.

  2. I agree with the test driver – the Saab shifter needs a little work.

    I drove a Saab 9-5 turbo4 base last Friday and was not very happy with the feel of the manual transmission…but I fell in love with the car. My current (five speed) manual 2008 9-5 is much better in the action of changing gears. I am a little confused (and upset) to find this new unit is not up to or even close to the “BMW” gold standard of movement.

    That said, I am about to order a vehicle…just waiting for my dealer to explain the order option changes that Saab just made here in the USA. They have a new visibility package, and some of the high end features are no longer available with the four cylinder model.

    I hope the observed shift action is simply a case of the mechanics needing to be “worked in” over time. I am looking forward to finding out.

    • John,

      As you suspected, the gearbox does get smoother as you put some miles on the car. I have covered over 10k miles now and the gearbox is a lot easier to change than when I first picked up the car.

        • One of our tech’s told me the cars come programmed with a breakin period. You do nothing and the car breaks in as you drive, so should drive better after I think 5000k. I’ll check for the actual breakin period today and let you know.

          • Jason, I reckon SaabKen broke it as it seemed fine when I drove said car when you first got it in!! πŸ˜‰

  3. I own a 2010 9-5 Aero, we had about 2-3 inches of snow last night and this morning. I have 18″ Saab wheels and dedicated snows and with the XWD system the car was amazing in the snow. I couldn’t spin the wheels at all. You wouldn’t know the pavement was slippery, went up a steep hill like it was 75 and sunny. Really amazed, I always ran snows on all my Saabs but this takes it to a whole new level. Would think up in Canada it would be worth consideration. I am in Boston.

  4. Nice car me like ,

    but why do they even offer it with that monochrome display in the speedometer why not use the multicolor one as standard? the multicolor one gives the car a much more modern interior and the cost for that would be almost nothing and it would probably be easier to build all cars with one display type, or am I wrong ?

    Personally I wouldn’t buy a base model with the monochrome display, I rather buy a second hand car a year later with the multicolor one than buy one of those as new. I think if they made the base model interior more appealing that would increase sales.

    I know it might sound picky but it is just these things that can make or break a deal. At least for me and I know a lot more people that thinks the same way.
    Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a great car to drive, but it is a lot of money (at least for me ) to buy one brand new and I want it to feel modern inside and I think that it should feel that way even in the base model.

    anyway this is my personal opinion. Feel free to agree or disagree.


    • You are 100% correct.

      The non-navi display is an embarrassment to Saab! Those looking to buy a Saab because it’s a Saab won’t really care, but those cross-shopping the competition may consider it a joke and thus a deal killer.

      What is with the space between the display and the selection buttons?

      I would rather have a dummy navi screen there, even if it never worked.

      • I could live with that.
        Much worse is the stripe of “wood”… False, un-saabish, un-scandinavian and without any kind of meaning and reason in a modern car….. – Fortunately one can buy the car without it..

        • It’s not real wood, looks worse in person. The base model interior is, to be polite, very cheap looking. As others have said the monochrome display looks terrible and the fake wood looks very fake in person. I know Mueller said they are working on some interior upgrades for next year, but it’s a shame that some people’s first impression will be defined by this. At least the Aero looks clean and modern with the NAV and metal accents.


    • Maybe this is the new Saab retro look?
      But seriously, I agree with you, not so much because it is monochrome, but because it is really GREEN. Someone buying a premium car doesn’t want to be transported back to the seventies. As a student I spent months in front of Tektronix terminals analyzing data. I don’t want to be reminded of these bloody green screens every time I get into my luxury sedan.
      Hm, should be careful, Swade doesn’t like us to complain about these ‘small’ things.

    • the green display is very cheap looking, and its sad that the base srx here offers the color lcd as standard across the board. its ridiculous that you have to pay extra for that, its not like the 9-5 isn’t already over-priced….

  5. I drove a Turbo4 auto last week, and agree the engine is plenty for the car. With the manual, it should be enthusiast-worthy. Despite the car’s size, it feels light from behind the wheel, which is quite an achievement. I thought the suspension could use more refinement, because neither ride nor handling was truly outstanding. (Keep in mind my frame of reference is a 2010 Acura TSX, which is much lighter and incredibly agile, with excellent suspension tuning for an enthusiast’s daily driver.) The 9-5 drives well though, and would be fine for comfortable daily driver/family hauling duty. It’s certainly better than the typical family sedan. I’d like to see a FWD Turbo4 Sport, with a manual transmission and seats and suspension from the Aero. A little more boost wouldn’t hurt too. That would be the true Saab fan’s 9-5 IMO.

    I sat in a manual version in the showroom, and thought the shifter felt very good. I’m sure it would break in over time too.

    Aside from the light feel, which indicates a true Saab, I was most impressed with the value offered in the Turbo4. For such a large, refined, luxurious ride, the price is reasonable, and I didn’t expect to come away with that view. If Saab can get American consumers to give a four cylinder luxury car a chance — which is NOT easy — I think it could sell. It should do really well in other markets.

  6. Yup, that radio looks bad and that green display isn’t too hot either. I have only seen the Aero model until now but I think Swade might be right about only a Sat Nav in ALL cars. That is definitely a deal breaker after seeing it! It’s a great car and the interior needs to look it.

  7. I understand the comments about some of the inside trim or radio controls and such. These comments have been on almost every post about the 9-5 and I’m sure the point has been well made by now on that. I know as a dealer it could come accross that I’m making excuses for the company, but really? Saab was taken over in January and had a dealer base that was almost begging for product as their lots had emptied of the GM/Saab 2009 models and they had become used car lots. Saab had to take the already completed 9-5 and 9-3 models that were ready to start being built and the parts that were ready and available. Now ofcoarse nobody was happy that the 2010 9-5 had no sunroof option, but the alternative was to wait 6 or 7 months to have the parts available and in that time you would have completely lost any customer you could have had. Any change to a production car is potentially a huge change. If you change a sterio for instance, you now have to make sure that you can get 10 or 20000 of them plus the plastic trim around that radio to fit the new one. All that being said, I think that with just under a year of business under their belt, Saab has a great car in the new 9-5 and the 9-3 as much as people say it’s getting old, to me it’s great car and still fun to drive. Has enough been done to increase sales? No, and as much as I don’t like that, I can understand why. With all the things that a realitively small company has been doing (the deal with BMW, restarting markets like Canada, the transmission deal, the list goes on) to ensure a strong future, I think people can maybe afford to cut some slack to Saab and maybe just maybe praise them for what they’ve accomplished. Sorry for my rant, I just think there is so much to be said about what Saab has done and continues to do and we get stuck sometimes looking at shortfalls and with what has been done in the first year is more then most companies (GM) accomplish in the same time.

    • I agree with your commentary – however I am the one about to pony up $45,000 to purchase a new 9-5.

      My dealer had a good suggestion however, and it may benefit anyone not completely happy with the new 9-5 interior.

      Don’t buy one. Lease one.

      Saab is now offering an attractive price point on the new 9-5 with a lease duration of just 27 months.

      I figure the (anticipated) summer 2011 MCE should perfect this car, so why not go for it now, and then get another new one in 2.25 years!!

      Long Live Saab!!

      • If Saab can offer you a good deal, then I would say that a lease would be just as perfect as owning one. When the lease is over I guess you can either choose to buy the present car, or lease a new one, with the later option giving you yet a new car. πŸ˜‰

    • Jason, I’ve tried to convey the same line of thought consistently over the last few months and as you can see from one of the comment, above, people still seem to think it’s some form of censorship or my attempt to create a shiny-happy world where no-one ever complains about anything.

      Yes, Saab do need to respond to a few issues with the 9-5, all of which seem to be based inside the car rather than under the hood. I’m sure they will. But people also need to be balanced in their view of the car and the company.

      Things are improving remarkably. Eventually that’ll filter through to North America as well.

      • Hi Swade. I’m not sure if you are referring to my remark about not being allowed to complain. I’d like to apologize if I’ve hurt your feelings. I know that you are not censoring things (too much) and the remark was supposed to be funny.

        I’ve mostly stayed out of the discussions about the 9-5, mainly because I have quite a number of difficulties with it but am not going to buy one anyway. However, Saab is trying its best, doing reasonably well all things considered and we all hope for them to have a long and prosperous future. With some luck I’ll be able to buy a new Saab dream car a few years from now.

        My reason for chiming in with a negative remark only is that when watching the video the only thing that really jumped out was this horrible green glow from the displays. Even oscilloscopes don’t have that sick green anymore. You know why?; because color screens are really, really cheap nowadays. The cheap ‘wood’ and large areas of black, flat plastics someone could accept because it’s a great drive. Unfortunately the green display are always in your line of sight and, at least for me, would spoil the fun quite a bit. Saab, especially in the US, cannot afford to lose sales because of such a small stupid thing.

        • GerritN,
          Have you driven the new 9-5? I’m not trying to be smart by asking, I just want to know. When driving the car, the green glow as you say is really not as bright. I know in the video it jumps out, but so does any digital display. The cheap ‘wood’, we actually have had people say they like it, so to each there own. Regardless of any of that though, the fact remains that when Saab was sold, they needed to build cars to get them to market and any change to those cars would have been a huge set back and we may still be waiting for cars now.

        • Hi GerritN,

          I think the best way to prove/disprove your perceptions and opinions of the new 9-5 is to test drive one in person. You may be surprised, at what you felt were deficiencies that turn out to be plusses (or vice versa). Everyone is entitled to their opinions. All I’m saying is, if you can formulate opinions based on first-hand experience, all the better, right ?

          I was personally quite skeptical about the base 9-5 being propelled by the 2.0T, esp. given its GVW of almost 4,400lbs. Well a short drive and I was completely convinced it’s (more than) an adequate powerplant, esp. when coupled with the 6M transmission. Again, my preconception was proven wrong by hands-on experience. Yeah the green center display could be nicer (maybe just the font type) to my liking, but it’s not a deal-breaker. Yeah and IMO the black blank plastic area around the Night Panel could be nicer. Again, not a deal-breaker. What ultimately would compel me to buy this 9-5 is how it drives, its comfort (oh, like you wouldn’t believe ….), safety, design and economy. And that certain “je-ne-sais-quoi”-ness that is so typically SAAB. All Saabs, IMHO, grow on you no matter what.

          • Well, I didn’t want to state it too bluntly, but the only reason that I’m interested in the new 9-5 is because it is mostly made by Saab and because Saab’s survival partly depends on it. I didn’t drive the car, but I’ve seen it up close and I’m just not interested. It has a bit too much of the Detroit/GM DNA to make it appealing to me. Saab did a pretty good job of putting a layer of Swedish style and handling over it, but underneath beats the heart of an overweight American sedan. I could make the same kind of statements for the 9-4x. Again, my only interest in these cars is that they (hopefully) will be money makers for Saab which will enable them to produce more interesting cars soon. For the 9-5 and 9-4x to be money makers in the US market, imho, Saab needs to fix some issues with an apparent lack of luxury in these (at least on paper) premium priced vehicles. That’s the only reason for my remark with respect to the sickly green glow of the display.

            Considering my lack of interest I will not take up any more bandwidth and comment space as far as the 9-5 and the 9-4x is concerned. Hopefully the concept 9-3 will start showing up soon, I’ll be happily be chiming in when that happens. My Porsche Boxster is going to be delivered tomorrow or Friday. That should keep me occupied until then.

          • GerritN, I had similar thoughts originally.

            But unless you park the 9-5 next to a 96 (that was a very cool picture btw), you won’t notice the size. You’ll only notice how easy it is to fit a lot of cargo and/or passengers.

            It doesn’t drive like a huge vehicle either. With XWD I am concerned that it pops the rear out a bit prematurely when cornering on snow, but that can be fixed by spending less money (and get the FWD model).

            It is a nice vehicle to drive in adverse conditions, even when travelling far away. I’ll be putting my own words to the test soon, on December 26th my wife and I will head up north to TromsΓΈ. That trip will really put the 9-5 to the test. I know Saab have already tested it on those roads, but they did not put any fools behind the steering wheel. I reckon this will be a first. πŸ˜€

            Quite frankly, I do not think measuring the car’s length is relevant. The relevant bit is “can I fit inside with all my stuff?” and “does it still drive nicely?”. If either question is answered by “no”, then pull out the big fat finger of blame and point it to the car’s length. It seems foolish to refuse tasting a pizza because you disagree with its radius.

  8. I have to say I agree with Jason 1000%! A year ago we were as good as dead and now look where we are. Im just thankful that we have an enthusiastic dealer with guys like Jason and Rob here in Vancouver to promote the Saab brand. These guys are working hard to get things up and running with the limited resources that they have so lets cut the negativity and support their efforts.

    • +1 Zippy. And for the record, the 9-5’s tranny is gonna break itself in with usage, so I don’t have to do the onerous “breaking”-in for it [grin]

      If all future Saab retailing in Greater Vancouver (and elsewhere) are as fantastic as Jason and Rob (and everyone else) at Springman’s, SAAB’s future is pretty damn bright as-is. With 9-4X, 9-5Sport Combi and 2013 9-3 in the pipeline, these guys will be busy busy busy !!

      • @ zippy, saabken and others who have commented-

        Thanks for all the kind words! The reality is, we do what we do beacuse we are excited and truly believe in the Saab name. We happily invite anyone to come in and talk, see, drive, whatever. It’s what we do. Of course selling cars fits in there somewhere but there is a lot more to it than having a car on the lot and flipping someone a set of keys and saying “There you go!”. I would be also be lying if I said that guys like Swade and SaabsUnited, saabken and the SCWC and others who spend alot of their own time promoting Saab, weren’t part of the Saab experience. You guys, and countless others like you, mean so much to the Saab brand in bringing awareness to current, past and possible future Saab buyers and drivers. Don’t stop what you are doing. We are all looking forward to many successful years of Saab ahead and we can all help each other get the word out there. Now, just send all your friends in to buy a car and we’ll all be happy! πŸ™‚ Seriously though, the more we talk Saab up to everyone we can, the better and longer the future of Saab will be!
        Thanks again to all who showed up last Saturday. It was great meeting you all and we will see you again very soon!


  9. isn’t the green display originating from the fighter jets?
    I suppose it is a safety feature being easy to read and recognise in a critical situation.
    If I may try to be objective.

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