Poll results – Saab 9-5 SportCombi

When I wrote yesterday about there being one engine option for the Saab 9-5 SportCombi in the US (and this was before we found out what that engine option would be), I included a poll on the subject.

Eight variations were offered in the poll, covering different combinations with V6 and 2.0T, auto and manual transmissions, and XWD/FWD.

More than 900 votes later, the results of the poll are pretty clear. Click.


Bear in mind, this is not a scientific poll of intending Saab 9-5 SportCombi buyers. It’s a poll of Saab fans, a rather small percentage of whom might end up being Saab 9-5 SportCombi purchasers.

But still, there’s some compelling stuff there.

  • The 2.0T engine option seems to be the most preferred option by a considerable degree. 2.0T options outpaced their V6 counterparts in all combinations, and by a considerable margin.
  • Manual gearboxes were preferred in three of the four classes of similar vehicles. The only combination that favoured an auto was V6 with XWD.
  • The most surprising feature of the voting, for me, at least, was that XWD outpaced FWD in all classes of voting. The four FWD options were the four lowest vote-getters.

That last one was a real surprise for me. Given that one of the arguments for the 2.0T could be better fuel economy in times of rising gas prices, I’d have thought the 2.0T FWD options might have fared better. The FWD model will retain all of Saab’s excellent winter weather driving characteristics, but without the weight and mileage penalties that accompany XWD.

Possible conclusions – Fuel economy isn’t quite as significant as people say (alt, we have a vocal minority) – or – people just want the latest stuff.

Interesting times. Thanks for casting your vote.

56 thoughts on “Poll results – Saab 9-5 SportCombi”

  1. Last year I took a Combi XWD 2.0T for a drive and I felt it was a little underpowered for my liking. But, that’s me.. after stepping out of my SC Aero. Perhaps if I was a slave to a Nissan or Toyota people mover it may not have been perceived as underpowered. So indeed I voted for the V6 XWD Auto.

    Call me a sissy, but a manual gearbox would just be too much of a fun killer here with my 18 stoplights during my 5 mile commute to work.

  2. XWD is new and hi-tech, so people prefer it. I’d also get one, never mind the slightly larger costs. Safety is important but the acceleration in the middle of the curve is the deal-breaker! I haven’t driven a SAAB XWD but I have driven an (excuse me for this) Audi Quattro. The grip is just amazing, and XWD is even superior to Audi.

  3. I think a lot of people want the versatility of XWD especially with a car like a wagon or a crossover which I think a lot of Americans see as their all purpose swiss army knife vehicle that covers all the bases just in case. It never snows where I live in California but I do drive to Tahoe and don’t want to deal with chains. It’s one less thing to worry about in my book and I’m willing to give a little gas mileage for ease and peace of mind. If the XWD kills the acceleration though I might rethink that choice.

  4. People who buy or lease 40K automobiles aren’t that worried about fuel costs.

    People who drive/lease 40K automobiles that their companies bought for them…..

    SAAB has a huge base in the NE of the US, where XWD will actually be used.

  5. XWD is thing I want, always was wondering how was it possible to Swedish manufacture do not understand the importance of XWD in winter for so long. FWD has no grip at all. I would say more I HATE FWD (RWD also). It is not safe to use FWD car if you drive in difficult climatic conditions. I was not understanding that fully until I made 10000km trip in winter to east Siberia with -50 outside, tons of snow, ice and mostly without normal roads.
    But without at least 330HP and powerful V6 you won’t see full XWD potential. As I wrote before I do not like 4cyl because of less smother working comparing to v6.
    Manual or Auto? Manual every day until saab offer good enough gearbox.
    Wagon or Sedan? Sedan, since i prefer comfort, handling over sleeping in car and having big boot. As 2nd vehicle I would take GL class made by SAAB.

    • Ummmm, Donk, you say, “FWD has no grip at all.” I live in the Northeast US and we are expecting our third huge snow storm of the season tomorrow and I am confident my Saab will do just fine in the foot of snow (30+ cm) without XWD. All wheel drive is great but Saabs have historically done very well without it. I would like to have that option some day but would likely go for FWD if gas mileage suffers too much. Also, I disagree that you need 330HP to make XWD effective. My father’s Jeep GC has 230HP and it has almost too much power in the snow…

      • Swade
        Doing that trip I just saw situations repeating time and time, which normally I would see once a month and with good EU roads prolly once a year. But they happen. Classic things:
        you overtaking a lorry on ice road, you see another one in front of you which came from unseen hill you can’t put power on road even on pretty high speed. Just carefully cold-blooded pressing pedal keeping AT on 5th gear and doing overtake like 1.4 driver..
        Another situation – you overtake on 1.5 lane road and getting into virgin snow, losing grip and can go only straight for a while with no acceleration.
        Cornering is also much slower: you did not see corner coming, attacking it with overspeeding and losing grip. On XWD with nicely tuned electronics you can just press accelerator and tuck it up.. On FWD your only chance is handbrake.
        John M
        If you drive 30km/h its okay, but when you make a long journey doing 190~km/h on winter road, you will understand that only winter tires are studded and only drive train is XWD. Also it is pretty hard to control AT behavior when you got 420Nm all the way up to red zone under the hood. I do not care about MPG, I need addition chances in extreme situations.
        And about 330HP – I just started feel with my current 9-5 Aero that I need XWD even on dry summer road after i tuned it hard. At the same time with stock setup I won drag races against several Turbo X on dry roads… so low power + xwd is not that good.

        • Doctor,
          you are not driving 190 kph on a winter road.

          I wiped right out of a corner doing much less than that. Granted, I did not have studded tyres, but the studs would most likely not have changed much. The layer of fresh snow on top of compacted and polished snow would not have translated into any meaningful grip. XWD certainly did not help at all, because at that point the name of the game was reducing the speed…

          There is nothing keeping you from propelling a proper FWD Saab to speeds like the one you mentioned. On a straight highway there are no problems doing that. Overtaking is easy, despite digging through the snow in the overtaking lane as if you were the snowplow. There are only subtle differences between a 9-5 w/XWD and a 9000 FWD when doing that IMO. Certainly no clear victory either way. Physically speaking, about 60% of the weight rests over the front wheels. They are the ones most likely to have any meaningful grip. XWD will resort to using them as well.

          That darn Ovlov I’ve mentioned a few times, now that one had very real problems in anything remotely resembling a winter road. Wheel spin, sensitive to tracks in the road, unable to chew itself forward in 5 cm of wet snow… That 2008 V50 (with studded tyres) was no match for my 1997 9000. A world of difference.

          If your FWD experience is from other brands, then I fully understand your XWD preference. But Saab FWD letting you down to the degree you indicate doesn’t reflect what I’m observing.

          • My experience from FWD mostly from 9000 and 9-5 (had experience on other FWD cars but it was mostly on good roads and with less power), Of course i was not doing any corner at 190, but sometimes i felt FWD was loosing grip too yearly, comparing with my friend’s subaru wrx and turbox x i used to drive (but not much)

            Most of the way it was legal doing 90km/h but who the hell will control it? No other cars, no asphalt under the snow and if you find asphalt it will be full of holes. That is pretty different what americans or europeans see while doing long trips on their lands So i had tons of chances to feel the car on its limits. And was disappointed by fwd..

            -50 was not all the way long… climate was different… I heard that you should have better grip on -50 than in -5 but only if you use soft non studded tires.

            Of course it was much safer doing 2x slow or don’t go there at all, but i do not care, i drive like i live last day. Sometimes.

            When i get 9-5 XWD for my personal use i will try it again and see if its better.

          • But Doc, which end of the 9000 did you feel was loosing grip?

            If you are heavy on the accelerator, the 9000 will indeed understeer. However, going into a corner either rolling or light foot on the accelerator, the 9000 will feel like it is starting to oversteer if you entered the corner a tad too fast.

            And yeah, with the 9-5 I could then push the rear out as if it was RWD, but few corners are long enough for this to have a meaningful impact on the speed as far as I could tell… The lighter 9000 still accelerates like a rocket out of the corner. As soon as its nose is pointed in the right direction… Bam! 🙂

          • Personally I start feeling uncomfortable in my 9000 at speeds over 200 km/h on dry, flat, straight autobahns. It feels like the cars front wheels are loosing touch with the road, and the car gets unstable.

          • Front… When end was losing grip I did not care much, since it was taking like 1 sec to stable it back (both with and without ESP).. Both for 9k and 9-5… But my 9k was on manual and had lack of power, and mostly crazy drives were made on 9-5.
            So my messages was on 99.9% of front was losing grip.

          • Barbapappa
            You probably got not good enough tires or something wrong with suspension. On dry good road it never had that feeling on SAAB. Both 9k and 9-5.

        • 190 kph on an icy road in Siberia?! And you want to be able to corner at that speed?!
          Sorry, but have you ever heard of “safe driving”?

          I have serious doubts any car in the world would be able to do what you’re asking. XWD is no magic, still has to comply with the laws of physics.

          Oh, and I think we can safely assume there are more speed increments from 30 to 190 kph, not just one.

        • My personal advice to all comers would be to save those speeds for the track. 190km/h on ice? It’s a recipe for disaster.

          Take care.

          • LOL!
            Mr. Kankkunen also knows what he’s talking about. Four time World Rally Champion who’s driven the crazy Evo cars in the 80’s.
            We need to get Doc that shirt asap!

            On the other hand I had no trouble overtaking at 160 kph yesterday on a very slippery road a queue of cars (Mercs, VW’s and ovloV’s) sitting behind a truck. So 190 isn’t THAT outrageous especially as traction increases the colder it gets. At -50 C it must be like driving on dry asphalt. The question is it legal? 😉

          • RS, my point (if you were referring to my post at all) was that you can’t go flat pedal all the time on proper winter roads.

            E.g. on Monday they had closed off part of the highway (been closed for months due to reconstruction, or perhaps they’re constructing a new piece — difficult to tell on that particular stretch) so I had been stuck behind two road trains for a short stretch. When we finally got diverted back to the highway, I went to the far left (overtaking lane) while accelerating quite a bit. At approx 60-70 kph (while still cornering) my 9000 starts understeering. It quickly recovered, but my point is that you will sometimes hit those zero-grip spots. If that happens while you’re cornering a bit too steeply, then you do not want to be exceeding 100 kph much.

            Normal overtaking on the highway is not a problem, because most of us will gradually make a turn, and if there is a little slip the direction will still be good. You’ll find it difficult (in a Saab) to be launched off the highway. My 9000 refuses to do any spins. It can loose traction in the rear while applying full brakes (my ABS is not working btw), but it won’t spin.

          • Rune, no I wasn’t referring to your post, but I totally agree that you shouldn’t do high speed cornering on ice even in a FWD Saab. In a straight line though… the NG 9-3 goes like a train especially with the heavier (diesel) engine plowing the way.
            What I love about Saab is that you don’t lose the back end without serious effort (on the track with a Viggen for example) and the car warns well in advance when getting over the limit.
            Like you say, Saabs don’t just shoot off the highway while overtaking in less than perfect conditions unlike some other brands.
            I guess it’s easier to cross that critical line quicker with the XWD? Maybe I should just stick to FWD 😉

  6. I voted for the 2.0l, XWD manual, but in reality I would probably opt for the more economical and in my opinion excellent FWD version. I’ve driven FWD Saabs for over 20 years in New England and they’ve never let me down in the winter.

        • The poll was made in the light of the motor offering i the US wich made me think that it was a preferrably US vote only (did`nt read that carefully). Also because there were no diesel options.
          As Rodney implies, what if the results could be based on US votes alone? V6 A XWD?
          For Sweden 1.9ttid M FWD i think.

  7. Please please put the 6MT on the 2.8L XWD sedans and combis
    by fall or i will have no other option but to hop into an Audi S4 at
    the end of my Turbo X lease.

  8. Stingray, maybe it’s a “PA” thing? I voted for the xwd v6 also. Maybe 9-5x trim for the larger engine

    Ur outside of Philly, right? I just got an email from Kelly SAAB for a covered bridge convey tour of Lancaster county in February. Idont know if Geoff or Kelly contacted Swade

  9. I love my XWD on my 2009 SAAB 9.3…..it really goes through ice and snow with ease…However, I’m more excited about the electric XWD (Hybrid) approach to all-wheel drive (2012/2013). Anything to improve gas mileage…My 2009 SAAB 9.3 XWD (210hp) only gets 21 mpg overall…..mostly city….ugh.

  10. I voted for the auto V6, XWD. I want the power distribution and I want more power. I have an 9-3 with the 2.0T and I’m wanting more. And Auto…so that the better half can actually drive my car.

    I’m not sure how I feel about another 2.0T with only a slight upgrade of power and then having to get a Hirsch upgrade.

  11. what I’d really like to see is a version of the 9-5 sportcombi more along the lines of the new 9-3x… raised a few cm + xwd… for me, xwd is not as attractive as a touch more clearance. I’ve never felt the need for AWD with our c900s (and we drive in tons of snow), but I have occasionally wished for a touch more clearance… not too much though, we don’t want this to drive like a schoolbus! though I haven’t driven one yet, 9-3x looks to be a perfect compromise (Subie Outback + Forester go too far imho)… a little bigger inside (ie 9-5) would be attractive…

    I’m also really interested to hear what people are getting as real world fuel economy on the 9-3x… eg how it compares with the outgoing 9-5…


  12. I think the skew towards a manual gearbox is a product of the heavy european and enthusiast influence of SU. That would never go for a SC in the USA, which is seen as a family car.

  13. Saab’s winter-tuned ESP means that “AWD handling” can be had in a FWD car. It steers very well, I would say better than the AWD cars my relatives drive.

    Of course, FWD is slower to accelerate in slippery conditions. Otherwise, front drive is superior in terms of most handling, efficiency, mechanical reliability, cost. AWD increases weight, which harms handling in most conditions.

    • I don’t like the slow acceleration it self, but I like that the slow acceleration keep reminding me that the car also will come to a slow stop! But I do think that XWD is a great feature (I have have driven some XWD cars) but it is not the XWD system that will keep me on the road during the winter.

  14. Personally, I’m kind of bummed the XWD V6 with manual tranny did not receive much support. I’d fancy a Hirsch 9-5 XWD as a replacement for my Turbo X, but it’s gotta have V6 and a manual transmission.

    True that the results speak for themselves, but it’s a pretty close call. Now, bring back the clutch to the V6. 🙂

  15. My current car is a 9-3 SC 2.0T FWD Automatic and I would go for the same setup in a 9-5.

    Living in Sweden I of course can see the point with XWD, but I don’t think it’s worth the worse mileage, performance, weight, and money. My FWD works very well at the winter, and most of the time I would suffer from the XWD’s drawbacks. Another issue with XWD is that I have noticed that the drivers tend to get carried away by that they get so good traction; they are driving too fast not noticing how slippery it really is. When they have to brake the XWD means absolutely nothing.

    After several years with manual I think I will never go back. I’m now totally an automatic guy now. I drive quite a bit in the city where automatic is very convenient. And for highway driving the mileage is about the same as the manual, and I enjoy that overtaking is just a glance at the right foot away. For inspired driving I occationally shift gears manually with the buttons. Performance wise automatic is almost always faster than a manual in practice in my opinion, unless you rev hard and shift very quickly.

    Well, that’s how I see it.

  16. Not mentioned so far: XWD has 2000 kg towing capacity, 200 kg more than the FWD version. Quite tempting.

    Okok, I stop talking about horse trailers on a car blog 😉

  17. 2.0T XWD with an automatic transmission was my pick. I test drove that car in October and it was a great drive. But when I take fuel economy into consideration, I am not sure I would buy that car. With Saab’s new electric XWD in the near horizon I am holding on to FWD for now.

  18. I´m notz so curious about the engines but about the overall dimensions of the new Saab 9-5 SportCombi.
    It will be hardly shorter than the sedan, which I think is too long and has a confusing all-round view inside.
    The hood and trunk of the are only to be guessed, and parking without a parking assistance system is practically impossible.
    Not to mention the room on the front seats. My 9-3 is roomier and more comfortable than the 9-5. Where has all the space been left, that you would expect from a 5m sedan?
    I am waiting for the new Saab 9-3 SportCombi.

  19. Good registration numbers in austria for the first 20 days of 2011. 16 saabs total In 2010 in the first quarter only 10 saabs were sold. And an ad campaign on billboards is running. Would be cool if it would be more than 20

  20. I suspect that there are many SU-ers who, like me, believe that SAABs should have 4 or fewer cylinders….

    • Three cylinders ! 🙂

      Actually, I really like the sound of a six-cylinder engine. But a three cylinder two-stroke engine sound very much like that. Som much so that DKW sold their twostrokers with the sign “3=6”. And we all know that the two-stroke DKW evolved into Audi, don’t we? 🙂

  21. I think the results indicate that somehow a Saab engine should be 4 cylinder and that when a Saab is a 6 it is not a real Saab. Of course that might not be true but 4 cylinder feels more like a Saab. V6 feels like a Saab for the USA market and for the advertising people in the US. In my mind Saab can get the same results from a 4 cylinder turbo so we don’t technically need a V6. Regarding XWD – I think that is something Saab should have adopted for there cars like the Turbo. I think that if Saab had added XWD during the nineties it would have enjoyed better sales. I think XWD is a natural evolution for Saab and could be a element which underpins the sales revival. Having just experienced a bad UK winter I know that I simply want XWD full stop. Finally on the subject of fuel economy – I think it’s important to everyone it’s just that there are other considerations as well.

  22. A more powerful engine needs XWD to better distribute the power to the road under a variety of road conditions. XWD certainly has its traction benefits – getting up to speed and maintaining it. The one minor disadavantage of A/4/XwD that I never see mentioned is what happens when a tire is damaged and has to be replaced instead of repaired. All four tires need to be replaced (in most cases) to maintain a uniform wheel diameter.

    A Saab with four snow tires does a remarkable job of handling snow and ice. The better the winter tire (and I’m talking without studs), the better the winter performance in a variety of conditions. Eventually, the limiting factor will be snow depth. I’ve heard plenty of stories of plowing through deep light powder but even a Saab car can get into problems with heavier deep snow that significantly exceeds the ground clearance. This is where the SUV or crossover vehicle comes in handy and Saab will now be able to offer the latter in the form of a 9-4X.

    The 9-3X was also a great idea for a more rugged and capable winter car. I believe I’ve read here at SU that the 9-3X is available in some markets with FWD (even though the X implies XWD). You do get the added ground clearance and the appearance features.

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