Our 9-5 has been in our care for about a year and a half now. So far we have carried out only two road trips, and we were long overdue for a third; Time to visit my relatives out west!
As I live in Sweden and work in Oslo, the road trip became a two stage affair. My dad lives not far away from me, but logistically it was easier for us to simply join up in Oslo. On Friday we pooled together in my car, four people in total.
What was different this time around is that I was mostly a passenger. My dad wished to take the helm as we approached the stomping ground of his youth. I was fine with that as the rear seat is comfy and the ample leg space makes it easy to relax and just enjoy the trip.
In some ways, it took me back to some of the family trips back when I was a child. The roads were a lot different back then. Instead of long and wide tunnels with ample space for my 9-5 meeting a big truck, my dad’s 96 would balance precariously on narrow roads glued to the side of a steep mountain. Back then, looking out the rear side window of my dad’s 96, there was nothing but a 200m (if not four times that) drop straight down into a fjord or a small mountain creek.
A side-note: It was not until I had pulled a 180 in my old 9000 (doing 90 kph) that my dad told me that he had done the same thing years ago in that 96 — while passing a truck. Unlike me, he did not wait until after passing the truck, but came sailing up on the side of the truck facing the wrong way. Saabs are difficult in the sense that they rarely take a wrong step. In my case snow and ice had packed up solidly in the rear wheel wells, causing the rear wheels to stop occasionally. That shot the rear end out of control and my careful correction of the over-steer ended up with a violent skid in the other direction. In any case, I have concluded that a driver’s DNA is often passed along to the next generation.
Thus, as I breached the topic of engaging the “sports mode”, a mild stream of annoyance shot back from the driver’s seat. Why had I not mentioned this feature before? With a slightly stiffer suspension engaged, we continued our descent down the mountain.
Thanks to frequent stops on the way we did not make it to our destination until quite late in the evening. Next day was spent hanging out with our family, celebrating my granny’s 85th birthday. Almost all my cousins were gathered and I could not help but notice that one of my younger cousins had grown to become a 2 meter tall giant. It was time to put the 9-5’s rear seat to the test. -“Auntie, may I borrow your son for a few minutes?”. She agreed, commenting that she had no use for him at that particular moment.
It is no secret that tall persons are not easily accommodated in the back of the 9-5, and my cousin Little Jon (age 27) confirmed that.
“People usually let me ride up front…” he quietly explained.
I am not sure what I expected from that test, but great fun was had by all involved.
My dad offered some additional thoughts on the 9-5. He felt betrayed by the front parking sensor, not realizing that it would only activate when putting the car in reverse (or after pressing the right button) he had nearly parked a bit too close to someone. I also noticed that finding reverse was not intuitive. On the five speed Saabs the gear lever points down, on the six speed 9-5 the gear lever ends up pointing forward. If you are not careful, you could end up in first gear. As Saab customers we are accustomed to a certain level of careful attention to such details, but on the other hand it would not be a Saab unless there was one or two nibbles somewhere. I can live with such nibbles. There is no perfect Saab (the 900 lacks a nightpanel, the 9000 has the ignition key in the wrong place, the OG 9-5 isn’t a combi coupe and neither is the NG 9-3) which is why you have to own at least two.
Sunday was reserved for basic tourism activities. We headed out to Bergen, the city surrounded by seven mountains. It served as Norway’s capital until 1314 and was central in trading with the Hanseatic league. The obligatory tourist traps were visited; Fløibanen, bryggen and the aquarium (the latter cost 150 NOK per adult, plus 60 NOK for a little over an hour’s parking — no, I am not bitter, but obviously there ought to be some sort of rebate for people driving sensible and good looking cars — obviously). Before we headed out of Bergen we stopped to refuel. There is only one fuel pump in that region that offers E85 and we had managed to only spend 62 liters getting to that point.
For our return home the next day we chose a different route that would require a short ride with a ferry, as well as take us past Vøringsfossen. Unfortunately they have constructed a dam to control this particular waterfall and they usually reserve most of the water for the tourist season.
We spent 65 liters E85 getting back to Oslo, which is good as E85 is not available anywhere between Bergen and Oslo (well, a few miles west of Oslo there are a couple of pumps, but you might as well power through).