Canadian test: Saab 9-5

Every now and then it’s extremely refreshing to read a road test that isn’t cynical, doesn’t have too many attempts at whipcrack humour and doesn’t do much else other than share an impression of a car.

Once you get past the toaster story, that’s exactly what happens in this Canadian review of the Saab 9-5 2.0T.

I’ll let you read the whole thing for yourself, but I feel compelled to share this bit as it really made me smile.

And this is where I start to become puzzled. The 9-5 comes in two flavours: the regular 9-5 and the 9-5 Aero. Oddly enough, Saab actually decided to go with two different suspensions in the trim levels. The top of the line Aero gets “HiPer strut front end” which essentially increases longitudinal stiffness and reduces torque steer. The base 9-5 on the other hand, uses a conventional multi-link suspension which improves comfort noise and vibration. Saab’s thought process was clearly that the hotted up 300 horsepower and 295 pound foot of torque Aero (which uses a 3.6 litre V6) should clearly walk the walk as a sports sedan, while the base 9-5 will take a more luxury role for those who value it more over performance. But I found the base 9-5 to handle quite well despite its set up for comfort. In fact, considering how big the car is, I was downright surprised. It’s poised, sharp and yes comfortable all at the same time.

OK, let’s overlook the 3.6 litre engine thing.

What he’s experiencing there is the lighter weight of the 2.0T vs the V6 and the resulting agility it gives the 9-5.

As mentioned in my own tests of the car last year, I loved the power of the V6, but for me, the 2.0T was something I’d see as more fun as a daily drive for my typical commute. It combines the brilliant space and comfort of the 9-5 with the agility of a much smaller car. The thought of Hirsching that car for another 40hp is a delicious one, indeed.

Anyway – go read the test. It’ll cleanse your mind to read something decidedly good about what is undoubtedly a very good car.

Thanks to Vince for the tip!

37 thoughts on “Canadian test: Saab 9-5”

  1. I’m still puzzled how some people are complaining about a $39k price tag for a new 9-5 in the US?
    Mmmm… 3.6 😉

    • You may be puzzled because you do not understand the tax structure or market forces in the US. Comparing prices between markets is like comparing apples and oranges.

      • I’m not comparing the US prices to any other country (528i and A6 starting prices $45k).
        I supect you don’t understand Saab can’t sell cars for no profit.
        The factory is in Sweden (not China or India) building premium vehicles, not some cheap…

  2. I think the base price here in Canada is just over $45K. I think is is a positive review of what, IMHO, is one of the best looking cars out there. 🙂

  3. Drove behind a brand new white 9-5 Aero 2,0T this morning on the school run, Car has amazing road presence.

    I was very lucky to test drive a 9-5 Hirsh 2.0T Automatic , It was wet weather conditions and the car handles beautifully, but can’t get all the power down when its that slippery. I think the 9-5 2.0T Hirsh with the 6sp manual and XWD is the choice for those that are looking for the best handling/performance compromise with very rich roots into the brands history.

  4. I think that 2.0T engine is a brilliant choice in the 9-5. Of course, it will not appease all tastes (I prefer the 2.8T myeslf, having one in a 9-3 aero), but it follows both the character of saab (turbo small displacement) and the goal of efficiency. And, from all the reviews i’ve read (both Swade and third-party), this is more than sufficient power for this size of vehicle. Living in the US, a four cylinder in that size of car is not common, but having driven the previous gen 2.0T ecotec (in a 9-3) it surely does have sufficient power and a good torque curve. In future years I would love to try the 2.0T with the hiper strut and xwd, which i dont think would be too much burden for that engine (especially with the manual), but as for now the FWD and manual with the 2.0T is a great choice I think.

    …Unless you are a hooligan like me, in which case the 2.8T is the only option 😉

  5. Very good reading, everbody has a “toaster” that you dont wanna get tid off. What other carcompany has a built in hockeystick, that must count for something. Hey, there is a gimmick – but a Saab and get a free state of the art Saab hockey stick.

  6. Got a good laugh out of the 3.6L v6!

    but otherwise a great review!

    I heard that we finally got 9-5s in Kansas City, can’t wait to go test drive one!

  7. I think he liked it.

    How refreshing to read a report from someone who seems to actually understand the brand a little.

    Great find.

  8. I’ve driven the new 9-5 2.0T but, coming from the old 9-5 3.0 V6t Maptun, I’d prefer the 2.8 V6T; it does everything whit so much more ease, never needing high rpms, feels very relaxed; great for long-distance traveling..

  9. Very positive review indeed and an excellent read. He definitely liked it! Also he corrected the error with the Aero engine at the bottom of the article.

  10. Not a bad review, but I would say my current 9-5 has very little torque steer, my OG 9-3, now that one had torque steer. Turbo lag is over stated on the older ones. I also wonder about the thirsty 2l engine.. how does it compare to it’s rivals. It is a big car so I am sure it uses much more gas then a corolla for example

  11. Very good review indeed!

    When looking at the pictures of the exterior I feel it would be interesting to let the chrome list , which now signifies the hockey stick, continue around the top line of the roof around the front window, that would probably look great and strengthen the feeling of the roof coming up from the rear. Any other that have thought along these line also?

    • what a f…king joke. Talk about lazy and incompetent.. They actually published the article with pictures only of the OG9-5!

    • The right comment to that “review” could be: Thank you for telling us that Saab are intelligent and you´re not: One example: Among the arguments for keeping the start-button at the “Saab-position”, even though there is no physical key; is that it actually is the most convenient position – close to gear-selector etc. So you choose to blame Saab for you being use to drive other cars with less intelligent design.

    • No9,

      Nope, we have tried to make our dealer site more Saab like. Just had our provider change colors to line up with Saab. We have listed our new vehicle inventory, missing a few photos though and have created an ad of sorts on the front page. We are on our own right now, so if you don’t know how to make changes to your site yourself, then you’re kind of at the mercy of your web provider…. I’m just happy I know how to do some of this myself to be up to date as much as I am. Let me know if I should make any changes more then I have, I want people to enjoy our website.

  12. My concern is, that while it is positive overall, the review seems to fall victim to almost every other write-up about Saab lately. Without fail, there seems to be a lack of fact checking that can be done with the most simple phone call to us, the dealers! We are already fighting against a lack of exposure and when we finally do get some, there is invariably misinformation put out there (whether it is inadvertent or not doesn’t matter – it’s wrong).
    Some recent examples here in Canada…
    1) Many stories about Saab selling only 2 cars in 2010 but with no mention of the fact that cars didn’t arrive on most of our lots until mid-December.
    2) Incorrect technical information, i.e. 3.6L engine. We may be able to overlook that, but to some people, seeing that and then finding out it’s “only” a 2.8 might feel let down.
    3) A small blurb in the Vancouver Province today about the 9-5SC coming soon and being shown in Geneva. It talks about having the same all-Turbo gas and diesel engine line-up as the sedan. I’m sorry, but not in Canada.
    4) An article in Canadian Autoworld from Feb 2011, quoting Mike Colleran. Now I realize the article may have been written some time ago, but maybe check that it’s current before being published is a good idea?
    5) Numerous mis-quoted prices. MSRP’s have been all over the map. Zippy is correct. The 9-5 Turbo4 with a manual transmission is $45,500, which judging by the photos in the blog, is the car the reviewer drove. Why saying estimated MSRP of $54,000, when a short call to the dealer would clarify things is beyond me. Maybe mention the fact that are 2 levels of car, the Turbo4 and the Aero and then price the pair of them accordingly.
    These may seem like small points and nit-picks but they add up to a much bigger incorrect picture when taken together. This is the biggest frustration being a dealer and trying to make a living selling these absolutely amazing cars. Having to correct people when we actually get someone in the the door is getting old.
    As much as we can appreciate that the information is getting out there, lets at least try and get it right! /rant off with apologies to those who do get it right! 🙂

    • Rob,

      Might be time to get all the VCR based motoring writers in for some donuts and a lesson or two about the Saab range. Gotta get this stuff right.

      • Swade,

        No doubt, but Jason has contacted several local and syndicated writers and so far it’s been a decidedly yawn-inducing semi-interest along the lines of “We’ll set something up. We’ll let you know when.” So far not one has confirmed a test drive, nevermind just coming out to shoot the breeze and talk Saab with us. In fact, one so-called automotive writer was surprised to find that Saab was still around. What does that tell you? We’d love to have them out and answer any and all questions. The problem is that apparent indifference is overshadowing any excitement we can generate at a local level.


        • Wow. Professionalism at its peak on their part, eh?

          Kudos for the effort.

          I can think of a couple of Canadian writers who need a good kick in the pants.

  13. 3.6l isn’t an engine build on strategic views. But in the US the big cars seems to be currently on the left lane. The drop down in the end will be hard. Innovate or die.
    Also US/ Canada will see the benefits from the downsize approach. The step from V8 small and big blocks to an 4 cylinder

    But one thing said in the review is true. The high perform strut should be also an option in the “standard” models. I’m sure the 2.0T is enough. If not Hirsch-Performance will help 🙂

    Saab has it roots with 4 cylinder engines. The Holden V6 is the best V6 engine base Saab ever had. But hopefully they came back to root or someone called it Saab DNA..

  14. Is the review correct in saying that an automatic transmission is only avail on the Aero? The US versions do have autos on the Turbo 4.

    • Its not correct, we can get the auto on all models as well.I wish these people would call a dealer and get the info, although the info’s not really top secret, they could even go online.

    • No he’s saying that it’s automatic only for the Aero and either a six speed manual OR an automatic on the Turbo4

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