Saab 9-5 – the winter car owner’s review

Saab dealers in areas that get snow in the winter should bookmark this owner’s review and send it out to prospective customers. Better still, make a printable version of it and pass it around when people come in to the dealership.

Nothing speaks to an prospective owner quite like the testimony of a current owner. Someone who, like they’re thinking of doing, has sunk their own hard-earned money into a vehicle. Sure, they may have a vested interest in liking the vehicle, but they’ve also lived with it and know its good and bad sides.

One of our own SU regulars, Arild, has written an owner’s review of his 2010 Saab 9-5. The review focuses on the winter driving characteristics of the car and it’s a very good read.

In conclusion, I can highly endorse the new Saab 9-5. The performance during winter is second to none. The good old Saab slogan “Vinterbilen” (The Winter Car) can also be used on Saab’s latest car!

Here’s the bookmark. Head on over there and read it for yourself.

There are some nice pics elsewhere on the site, too. Well done, Arild.

An Independence Day letter to all the Saab Employees out there – from one of your customers

I’ve been busy finishing off a presentation I have to give to Saab dealers here in Australia on Wednesday at a function to celebrate Saab’s independence. That’s why there’s been no fresh articles from me tonight.

Instead, I’d like to share a letter I got from Till72, a Saab 9-3x owner and good friend from Germany. He sent it to me with the express purpose of having it shared on site and I think it sums up how we all feel this week – happy and grateful to all those who have stood by Saab.


Bad news seems to burn into your memory much more than good news. I can still remember what I was doing as the wind down of Saab was announced, yet I can’t really say what I did when the contracts between Spyker and GM were finally signed.

What I can still remember, though, is the big relief I felt as the message came through. After those weeks of ups and downs the deal was finally sealed and Saab could step into the future as an independent car maker. One big party around the world started.

We were celebrating Victor, a guy we didn’t know anything about just a few weeks before, and one who had deeply impressed us with his tenacity. We were celebrating our efforts as the community played quite a role in the whole game. And we were of course celebrating the fact that Saab was still around.

After the parties were cleaned up there were those questions: how big is the damage for the brand, what do Saab have up their sleeve for the future? We knew about the 9-5 and the 9-4x but it was also quite clear that there was quite a lot of work to do to bring Saab back on track.

During such a rollacoaster of a sales process Saab could easily have bled out regarding manpower and knowledge. I don’t have exact numbers of how many employees left Saab during those months and I won’t blame anyone who had a good offer from elsewhere for leaving. We might have lost our favourite car maker, but the employees might have lost their livelihood. However, I got the impression that most stayed.

So today I’d like to give a big, prolonged applause to the Saab employees. You’re truly one of Saab’s biggest assets, if not the biggest. In fact, you are Saab. You kept working hard through turbulent times to make sure Saab could start right through into the new future. And now that the future is there you pull even more rabbits out of the hat.

Thanks for that.

During the last year we have learned about of many great things Saab had/has in development even beyond those new models. Sub 120g CO2 TTiD, eAAM and a new 9-3 by 2012 to name just a few. It makes me quite confident that Saab has the capability to survive in today’s automotive landscape. That again made clear how much creative engineering energy there is at Trollhättan.

Thanks for that.

You gave me a lot of great Saabs over the years. Some gave me special memories, some of them got me out of tricky situations but all of them gave me a great ride and a lot of fun.

Thanks for that.

Every time I got to meet Saab employees in person or virtually, with the latest example being the Arctic Experience, you made me feel like I belong to a family. The Saab family. It’s more than just being kind to a customer, there is more warmth in the relationship.

Thanks for that.

So have a great party this week and celebrate yourself. You truly deserve it.

Monday Snippets

For those Swedes who like their cars to be green, Preem are launching a new diesel variant that’s either 16% or 20% more environmentally friendly (depending on how you read the literature).

Describing the development of the product, which hits the market in April, as “unique”, the firm claims that Preem Evolution diesel reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 16 percent due to the fact that a fifth of the raw material is tall oil.

“New thinking on green solutions lies behind the development of the Evolution diesel. The tall oil has hitherto been regarded as waste by the forest industry. Through innovative thinking and co-operation it has been developed into a renewable resource,” the firm said in a statement.

The product is developed from processing a residue extracted from black liquor in pulp mills and is the result of six years of research and costing the firm more than 300 million kronor ($47 million).

The diesel is identical to fossil diesel molecularly, but is made up of 20 percent renewables, thus qualifying it for tax free status in Sweden and thus comparable in price to regular diesel.


Don’t blink as you’ll miss it, but here’s our mate Etienne and his Saab 99 in the Boucles de Spa over the weekend.


From what I can tell of the updates on the Saablog-in website, Etienne completed the course and finished 20th of 140 vehicle in the class.

An excellent effort by the world’s happiest Saab fan (anyone who’s met Etienne will know what I mean)


If you’re in North America (I think it may be cost-prohibitive otherwise and I’d recommend Maptun anyway) and you have a Saab 9-3 V6 and you haven’t already got a solution to your need for a fatter downpipe and midpipe on your exhaust, then some people at SaabCentral would like to hear from you. They’re looking for 25 people to get a job lot made up.

The thread starts here and ‘kanundrum’ from SC got in touch asking if I’d pass the word around. Consider it passed.


A little while ago I invited you to participate in some Saaby Student Research. A series of questions were posed and I’d like to thank the many people who completed the questionnaire and sent it to me via email.

I can pass on that I did indeed pass them along to Robin M, who in turn passed them over to the young student concerned.

More than that, though, Jette (the young lady conducting the research) went up to Robin’s neck of the woods over the weekend and a group of Southwest Saab Club members got together to provide more answers, and a few photos as well.


BMW ownership can come at a price some aren’t willing/able to pay here in Australia.

So much so that it actually made the news over the weekend.

BMW is pursuing hundreds of Australians in bankruptcy proceedings over luxury vehicles collectively worth up to $18 million, as dreams of enjoying opulent lifestyles crash.

The social aspirants now face losing their luxury vehicles and possibly their homes to repay massive debts to car financing giant BMW Finance…..

…..The Sunday Herald Sun inspected 32 BMW actions in the Federal Magistrates’ Court, where the debts ranged from $8000 to $190,000, with most in the $30,000-plus range.

One guy’s view – buying a Saab 9-5

I keep getting these stories and I’m so pleased to pass them on.

Again and again, the people who actually spend their hard-earned on a Saab end up being very, very happy.

Great to see a story come through from Germany, too. Just wonderful.

My thanks to Mikaik for sending his story through.


Hi Swade,

I almost can’t believe how much happened with Saab in one year. First the shock of the announcement from GM, then the hopes of a Spyker deal and, finally, the happy moment when all became official; Saab was saved (at least for the moment). I was very impressed by the effort Saab fans invested in the convoys and all other forms of showing their support for the brand. But then I got a bit angry seeing that some people, although Saab fans, started complaining about silly things and basically, at some point trashed the 9-5 almost completely.

I figured that the best way to help Saab is to buy a new car (although at that point I was still 100% I’ll keep the 9-3). I test-drove a 9-5 over one week-end, and I knew from the first minutes that it’s a good car. Of course, this did not prevent me from thoroughly testing it for another 150 km J.

The Monday after the test drive, I put my money where my mouth is and placed an order. Finally, last Wednesday, I’ve got my new car. It’s great. And java. And powerful. And fast. Did I mention that it’s great?!

It’s the 2,8l V6, Hirsch-ed to 330 hp. With the drive-sense (it’s still an option in Germany) and the HUD (of course).

First of all, maybe some people have doubts about Java (I know I did), it’s a colour that doesn’t show its true potential in pictures. I can assure you it is great. I was afraid it’d look plain black when it’s cloudy, but it’s actually quite obvious it is not black. In the sunset it seems almost deep red…I honestly think java is the best car colour I’ve ever seen.

Build quality: I’m impressed. Compared to the 9-3 is a lot better. Compared to BMW is …the same. And it’s not only me; a friend of mine, a big BMW fan, and owner, thinks that the quality of the 9-5’s interior is on par with the bavarians.

I’ve seen some comments from people saying they’re not buying the car only/mainly because of that black fascia. Frankly, this is rubbish. I did say it after my test drive and I can confirm it now: it’s not bad at all. Yes, it is black, and not the fancy ice-block design, but at least it’s a nice plastic. Plus, you don’t touch it all that much anyway. And you don’t drive staring at it (at least I hope no one would). The steering wheel on the other hand…personally I think it feels a bit cheap. I like the size and the shape, but I wish it’d have a more textured surface. But it wouldn’t prevent me from buying the same car again.

Ride: It doesn’t feel as fast as the 9-3, but it is faster (no matter what, I end up doing 80 km/h). It’s just that you don’t hear much in it, so you think it’s ok to drive a bit faster. You reach 180 km/h effortlessly and it still pulls like a train. Then comes the shock, with the realization that you’re on a part of the motorway with a speed limit (yeah, there are some, even in Germany), and you see ahead of you the frame of the speed cameraJ. The car doesn’t feel big at all. Which is quite amazing, knowing that it is 5m long and about 7cm wider than the 9-3.

There’s nothing I don’t like about this car. My wife likes it as well, although she was very much against getting an automatic car.

I’m happy Saab made it so far, and I’m confident they’ll be with us for, at least, another 30 years.

Family rivalry – Saab 9-5 vs Mercedes E-Class

Carlos R lives in Spain and he’s recently purchased a Saab 9-5 2.0T. He wrote me an email to tell me about a recent family gathering and share some thoughts on his investment…..


Hi Swade,

I’m the lucky owner of a new Saab 9-5 2.0T Vector Aut. with Drive Sense, which I’ve been enjoying for the last 3 months.

I am 37 years old, an industrial engineer, working for a company that carries out big projects in the oil, energy and environmental industries, and at the same time I’m doing my doctoral dissertation on strategic management.

I love cars and driving. Since I was 17 years old I’ve been always reading regarding cars in magazines, internet, etc.

The last two cars I drove before buying my own cars 11 years ago, were my father’s cars: a Mercedes E-class 2.3 E (W124) and an Audi A6 2.4. I drove a lot of kilometers in these cars, so I know these brands very well.

I had been always a Mercedes fan until I discovered Saab 6 years ago. My first car was a Mazda MX-5 10th anniversary, which was a lot of fun to drive. One day I brought my Mazda to a repair shop for maintenance, and whilst the work was being done I took a walk and went to a Saab dealer, where I saw a Saab cabrio. I felt in love instantaneously and I thought I wanted this 4 seat cabrio to be my next car.

After having my MX-5 for five years I changed for a new Saab 9-3 cabrio 1.8t. Ever since that moment I have been a Saab fan…………… 🙂

I had my Saab cabrio five years, when I changed for my new Saab 9-5 2.0T Vector Aut. with Drive Sense, a really wonderful car.

I live in Madrid and last weekend I went to the coast to meet my parents. My uncle had bought a new MB E-class 250 CDI Avantgarde Aut. and I called him in order to take a look and test it.

First, I took a look of his car and drove it several kilometers. Then, when we came back to my parent’s house I took my Saab 9-5 and I parked it beside the Mercedes. My first impressions were:

– The test was too short in order to have a conclusion regarding the handling. But I would say both cars are very good in this matter, with the advantage of the “multiple personality” of my Saab thanks to the Drive Sense.

– The MB looked like an old car in comparison with the Saab. The exterior design of the Saab is much more modern, clean, fluent and fresh.

– In the interior, the design of the Saab also seemed much more modern than MB, and the interior finishing was not worse in the Saab than MB. Perhaps, and according to what has already been said several times on this website, the central console and the glove compartment of the Saab could be improved a little.

– The Saab had more interior space than the MB.

– The chassis size (sections of steel structure frame) of the Saab is much bigger than the MB. At this respect, the Mercedes seemed a toy in comparison with the Saab. The Saab is like a tank……………I LOVE it………….It gives a big safety sensation. If the steel used in the chassis of the Saab has the same rigidity as the MB, it’s obvious which car is safer in a strong accident. Now I really understand that Saabs are built by Trolls in Trollhattan and this, the safety, is one of the most important reasons why I buy and I will buy Saabs in the future.

Both my parents and my uncle and aunt (from their faces) liked the Saab more than Mercedes. In fact, my uncle and aunt were really impressed with my Saab. Perhaps they were thinking why did we buy the Mercedes…………………perhaps because 98% of the people don’t know about Saab.

The size of the car, 5.01 m long, although sometimes said to be very big for Europe, is PERFECT for me, for a big sedan with really good space, confort and safety. The additional 13 cm of length in comparison to the Mercedes gives a sensation of more car, and the smooth exterior design hides the actual size very well. It seems a smaller car.

Sometimes I hear strong criticism about Saab, even on this website. Perhaps we have to ask ourselves if we are too demanding and critical with Saab and not with the other competitor brands.

With this experience, my impression is that Saab is going the right way and we have to be very proud of our Saabs and the Trolls are making them in Trollhatam.

One man’s thoughts – Driving the Saab 9-5 for the first time

Seeing the Chicago Auto Show is getting underway, I thought it would be a good thing to have a little story from Chicago.

This is from Marc B, who sent it to me with a big ALLCAPS headline. I think the car made an impression 🙂


My ’04 9-3 is in the shop and I’m driving a 2010 9-5 Aero XWD loaner with every bell and whistle for the next few days and wow, what a car.

We have my 9-3 and my bride has a ’09 9-5, and quite frankly my first reaction to the new 9-5 before driving it was that it was too big. I’ve figured that my next Saab, assuming the Trolls hit the right buttons (and I’m certain they will), will probably be a ’13 9-3.

But driving the new 9-5 is really an experience. The power, the handling, the design inside and out, the quiet, the stability, the comfort, the room are amazing.

Since launch, I have only seen one 9-5 on the street in the Chicago area, and that was about 5 months ago. What is really amazing is that I was stopped 4 times the first day by people wanting to know what it was, and received more than a few oogles on the highway.

We’ve had a lot of snow lately and the streets are a little icy. I’ve been on a couple of on and off ramps and pushed it a little, and I’ve never, in 45 years on the road, driven anything that holds, no make that grabs the road like this.

For me, there are probably too many bells and whistles here. I find many of them distracting. I’m a basic 9-3 Linear with a 5-speed guy. But as the next two days go and I get used to and understand each feature, that could change. What I have played with so far is reasonably intuitive, and I’ll spend a little time with the owners manual.

One major turnoff for me though, is I miss my Griffen in the center of the steering wheel. Are you listening Trolls? I want my Griffen in the center of my 2013 9-3 5 door, 6 speed, bright red hatchback!

Saab 9-5 navigation for central and eastern Europe

We have an SU reader in our midst who is contemplating the purchase of a 2011 Saab 9-5. He’s a very keen Saab fan and the 9-5 will suit his business requirements very well.

One problem – the 2011 model doesn’t come with maps for central and eastern Europe (CEE) as standard and there doesn’t seem to be a factory fitted solution at the moment.

His question:

I know of many successful map conversions for the older-generation 9-5s, which (also) didn’t have CEE maps standard, using maps from other car brands utilizing similar systems or even refitting the control module to take DVDs from systems with maps of CEE ready. There was apparently also some success using Mazda (I think) maps for the post-facelift current 9-3s (private imports from Western Europe came without the CEE DVD, and the GM price for it was absolutely prohibitive). Perhaps some of SU’s more techy readers do know what system the 9-5 is fitted with (it is my understanding the maps are still Navteq), and whether there are any CEE maps available for it I could somehow put on the 9-5’s disk, or any other solution that could make my possible future Saab provide me with navigational aid ON THE BUILT-IN SCREEN.

Buying a car with the best in-dash nav screen only to use an external system and mess up the great visibiity through the wraparound windscreen does not seem to compute.

I agree with that point 100%. If you buy the nav system, you don’t want a TomTom stuck on your windscreen.

I really hope this is something that Saab can address in the near future, but it seems that the 2011 model year will not see a solution for CEE, which is a shame given the support in some CEE countries.

Until then, maybe someone with a new 9-5 has found a solution for this issue, as suggested by our anonymous colleague, above.

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