Auto Zeitung test Saab 9-5

Auto Zeitung is a German publication (with a bit of a history, too, but that’s beside the point here) and they’ve recently published a Saab 9-5 review in their print publication.

Alexandros has been kind enough to provide a summary. Like all reviews, there’s some good and some not-quite-so-good but it seems pretty positive over all, especially for a German magazine reporting on a non-German car.

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Overall I think it is a very positive test for a German car magazine. Here is the conclusion of the author:

“Rarely were high hopes and expectations lying on a car model, as this is the case with the new Saab 9-5. Even if it doesn’t reach the technical refinement of the premium German competitors, it leaves however a strong impression. Engine, chassis and safety equipment of the not only in terms of pricing competitive, new Saab 9-5
are now back on the state of the art.”

And some highlights of the article….

Positive:

– the typical Saab design is well received, as evidenced by the numerous upraised thumbs of pedestrians
– the Swedes remained faithful to their design-line
– the head-up display is highly recommended
– the widely anticipated and different-colored a-pillars do their part to the fact that the driver cockpit feel like in a jet located
– especially the guest in the second row can look forward to a very generous legroom and a comfortable back seat
– front driver and passenger find generous space on the large and well contoured sports seats
– the two-liter engine impresses with its low vibration and accelerates the 1781 kg heavy sedan strongly
– the test consumption lies at reasonable 10l per 100 km
– Highway comfort is quite convincing
– even in comfort mode the 9-5 takes curves with little body roll
– the large wheels have a positive influence on traction and braking characteristics, a hot brake value of 34.5 meters speaks for itself

Negative:

– the massive C-Pillar posts complicate the view
– backing out of a parking space backwards becomes a test of courage
– the engine tends to stutter at low speeds
– the power of the engine can be moderately dosed
– the light steering is on something unpleasant
– the chassis is in the city due to the mighty 19-inch tires still unsatisfactory

“Dear Jonathan” – it seems Saab GB are listening

It’s great to read stories about Saab responding to feedback. In this case, it’s the boatload of negative reviews that eminated from the British motoring press about the driving characteristics of the new Saab 9-5 on British roads.

The response?

Britain is one of the key markets in Europe for Saab, which is why they are treating the customers there with a specially upgraded version of the new 9-5 sedan with no change in pricing. The model is based on the Vector SE trim level and features leather trimmed seats as standard, replacing the previous leather and textile interior trim.

What’s more, they offer a set of 18 inch Carve alloy wheels, improving the aesthetic appeal of the car, replacing the regular 17 inch Blade alloy wheels.

In addition to the new wheels, they’ve also tweaked the chassis to enhance the dynamics and comfort. The previous sport chassis fitted as standard has now been replaced with a revised comfort chassis specification, so you get a sweet ride with the 2.0-litre TiD 160PS models equipped with manual transmission.

Jonathan Nash had this to say….

These improvements are the result of feedback from the UK automotive media. The improved driving characteristics address issues related to ride comfort on UK roads. The fact that the engineering team have managed to make the changes without affecting the impressive CO2 emissions of just 139g/km for the manual 2.0-litre TiD 160PS car show that the small independent Saab engineering team can respond very quickly to market requirements.

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It’s great news, a great response, and I look forward to a new round of press reviews for the Saab 9-5.

Now, if only we could get some responses to issues raised from those November Saab sales in the US…..

NYT review Saab 9-5

This one’s been discussed fairly extensively in comments, even before I got the dozen or so emails about it in my inbox (thanks all).

The word “spin” has already been mentioned in comments, so I was loathe to bring the whole thing to the front page. Why go over this if people aren’t going to read it with an open mind (and funny that they’ll take everything in the NYT as gospel but voluntarily come here and be cynical about what I might write).

Nevertheless…..

The New York Times has published a review of the Saab 9-5 and it would be fair to class it as “a mixed bag” of bouquets and bricks.

The reviewer – Laurence Ulrich – loves the fact that the 9-5 exists and even likes a lot of things about it, but feels that it shows too many signs of its GM origins and that it fades once you introduce it to some competition.

I’m not going to bother with addressing his more contentious points one by one in detail. There’s not a single thing in this review that’s new to a regular Saab reader, so any points I’d make are well known to you all. There are some things in this review that are fair points that I think Saab will address in coming model years (interior) and there are some things in the review that are just downright wrong or inappropriate (the unqualified comparison between an Aero model Saab and a base-mid model Buick).

Instead, I’ll bring these two things to the table.

1) The fact that everyone we’ve heard from who’s actually bought a Saab 9-5, loves it.

and

2) something that Hugh W, a New Yorker, posted in the comments discussion:

……while all of us wish that he would have said this is the car of the year, run out and buy it, I don’t think that it will do too much harm, and will likely help a lot. Let me explain. The NYTimes reader is intelligent and perhaps a bit cynical. They know that nothing is all good or all bad, that reviewers are sometimes concerned about little things that are of no concern to them, that to be a reviewer implies that there will be some not=picking and criticism. On the other-hand, there are enough good things said about the 9-5 to tickle the interest of anyone who has ever owned a Saab, especially those that have owned and liked their GM era 9-3s. But most importantly, it brings to a wide readership the fact that Saab is alive and has a new car, warts and all. For those that Saab was closed, for those looking for an alternative to the Germans, this is huge!!! They at least know now that there is a new kid on the block that’s worth checking out. Will they all buy? certainly not, but I’m equally certain that it will increase traffic into dealer’s showrooms and potential buyers and evaluate and decide for themselves.

The New York Times review of the Saab 9-5, which may require registration, is here.

Owner Review – Saab 9-3 XWD

There’s been a heck of a lot of focus on the Saab 9-5 for the last few months. That’s OK, and quite natural. It’s not the only car in Saab’s stable, though, and as 100% Saab is so fond of reminding us in comments, the Saab 9-3 is a cracker of a car and he likes his Saab 9-3 just fine.

This isn’t 100% Saab writing the following, however, it’s a guy known in comments here on site as Spikeieos. He was one of the 397 people who took ownership of a new Saab in the US in November and as you’ll see in his review, below, he’s got a lot of good things to say about it.

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Greetings Mr. Wade,

I know there has been quite a bit of new generation 9-5 luvin going on, but I would like to share my adoration for the good old 9-3 and what a great car it is. I was enthralled at first with the new 9-5, however its size and trying to find a manual at a nearby dealer led me towards the more nimble and less expensive 9-3. There may have been some murmurings about the age of the 9-3 platform, but with the updates its received through the years its still quite the action packed car IMHO.

This manual TX edition 9-3 XWD in glacier silver metallic kept turning my head, so I took a test drive and the rest is history with me and my new car.

Wow, what a car. Kudos to the dealer who ordered this great combination of contrasting colors that make the car stand out. People notice me going down the road, and I really like that. Not many other manufacturers allow anyone to order such a bold looking color combination . When friends look at the car with dark wheels, blue-green silver, and ice block tail lights I feel like they are looking at my classic 900: its a love it or hate it kind of feeling about the car, definitely a Saab.

Its easy to feel and see the pride these cars are now made with. I was surprised how solid the doors feel and how quiet the car now is compared to earlier model years. The quirk in this car is the unusual whistle when first turning the engine over from the returned secondary air intake from MY 2003 for the 2.0t engine. After that the engine goes silent and not felt until you provoke it like the 9-5.

What puts this car above the others in its class is the handling, its the reason I got the car. The combination of XWD and the 18″ rims with Pirelli P Zero Neros make this car stick to the road unbelievably well. There is rarely snow where I live to prove its bad weather traction, only endless dry roads and long stretches of blue sky 360 days a year in the desert. Only the adventurous now dare to ride with me, as everyone else dislikes holding on to the oh **** handles the whole time as I dart around town. I’m still waiting to learn how to make the tires squeal, the car seems pretty unflappable.

There is no longer a need to brake when going around corners, just give it some gas coming out of the corner and the eLSD kicks in whipping you around (just watch out for the police who may think you are driving recklessly because their car cannot do that). I also like the improved handling and upgraded dampers, the lack of a V6 seems to help the weight balance and there is little body roll when trying to make the eLSD do its job in the corners. Very few 4 door sedans can claim to be this much fun in the discounted price range of the 9-3.

My faults with the car are limited to basic things like the radio and horsepower. When a friend who owns a Chevy Cobalt exclaims: “hey, its got the same radio as my car!”, I fall silent. And just like the old Wendy’s commercial, I keep wondering about the Bose sound system: “Where’s the bass?”. As Swade has previously mentioned, unfortunately the engine does not have the power it should at 210hp, so a software upgrade is a very welcome boost for an Aero model, which from the factory has a 0-100kph time of merely 8.6 seconds. I am still waiting for my free Hirsch upgrade SaabUSA 🙂

I agree the platform is now aging, but that point is mute with the build quality, handling and technology available. Top Gear reviewed one of the new generations of the BMW 5 series a while back. Jeremy’s opening remark on the review stuck with me: BMW has gone and come up with a new 5 series, but he was not sure why because the outgoing model was an excellent car in its own right. I hope in the future we can look back at this 9-3 which has been developed and refined through such tumultuous times and feel the same way.

Best Regards, David

Re-posted: My drive in the 2010 Saab 9-5

A few days ago I posted an entry that included a link to my own tour of the Saab factory back in 2007. I was surprised by the number of people who hadn’t read it, but of course readers come and readers go so it should be no surprise that there’s some stuff in the archives that people haven’t seen.
given that the site piked up quite a few new readers from December to February, there are probably numerous people who wouldn’t be aware that back in September last year, I was fortunate enough to go to Sweden and drive the new Saab 9-5.
2010 Saab 9-5
The review was in three parts, all of which were written straight after the car’s debut at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show and my subsequent drive a few days later.
Part 1Initial impressions of the new Saab 9-5 from the first showing
Part 2A closer look at materials, comfort, gadgetry in the new Saab 9-5
Part 3Driving the new Saab 9-5
If you haven’t read it before, I hope you enjoy the review.
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And whilst we’re talking Saab 9-5, there are some very, very good images of the car available here at the Saab Slovenski Saab portal.
The car has just been presented in Slovenia for the first time and Peter G went along to have a look. He’s taken some fantastic detail shots of the car.
Highly recommended.
Slovenia9-5_12_2.jpg

Driving the Electro Engine Saab 9-3 Convertible

There was a comment earlier today from theSandySaab stating that he’d recently driven the Electro Engine Saab 9-3 Convertible.
I wrote to him asking for some more background so that I could post the comment as an article here. Instead of a little background, we’ve got the whole enchilada!!
It turns out tSS is a real electric-car-watcher, as you’ll see below.
The vehicle sounds impressive (still, again) and here’s hoping that Saab get to continue to play a role in its continued development. I noted when checking out Electro Engine’s website today that they’re running an electric SportCombi as a well as the electric Convertible we’ve seen before.
My thanks to theSandySaab for these thoughts.

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So, as a Saab nut since almost as long as I can remember, I have been following SU and THS for some years now, especially during the recent financial/car industry crisis. The day starts and ends with SU. For financial reasons I have done most of my own work on old VW Beetles many years ago, but have at least a reasonable mechanical and engineering understanding. Also tried to understand the technology behind wankel/rotary engines, EGR, VVC etc… but always had a feeling the technology behind even new ideas was already old. Why explode dino juice to get propulsion? After all, even the first cars were electric.
Thanks to the strong oil interests weighing in on Ford’s decision to produce a gasoline engine in the model T, we still today using mainly oil to propel our vehicles. I have always wondered what happened to the GM EV1 that went silent after the initial massive media coverage. A year ago I came across the movie “Who killed the electrical car”.
The sad truth is explained very well in this documentary, revealing how the car industry needs the internal combustion engine, as they are in bed with the oil industry, the technology is there already and paid for with no or little interest to reinvent, but mainly, they need the customers back to for scheduled maintenance and servicing of this dirty, old engine technology. Oil, spark plugs, filters, you name it, you pay for it. See the movie!
Since then I have followed electric car developments, mainly the Tesla Motors and it’s Roadster. Finally there is a fun to drive electric alternative with very good range and clever people behind the company. However, the car is prohibitively expensive, and the more you get to know about their battery technology you realize how complex it is. Still, they guarantee the battery pack to keep at least 80% of it’s original range up to 7 years. Also, the model S looks promising, and looks very good.
ElectroEngine Saab 9-3Reading on SU about the ElectroEngine’s True Electric concept, I was very happy, intrigued and curious. An electric Saab with the latest technology!
So when passing by in Sweden I contacted them and got a talk and a short test drive, one of many they did that day. With a core team of only 3 persons, they are working on a very tight schedule. The drive was a very pleasant experience, very drivable, also at low speeds and extremely nice low end torque. It virtually looked, felt and drove like the original (or better) and very quiet. Even the fuel gauge was the same, just wired to indicate the charge status.

Read moreDriving the Electro Engine Saab 9-3 Convertible

Tuesday night snippets – circle of life edition

Thoughts on Saab from Autocar:

So here’s my message to Saab’s new owners, if that is what they eventually become. Well done on seeing the deal through; you’re clearly patient and determined types, and that bodes well. Now to your cars; make sure get the basics right. Strive to make the new 9-3 more competitive than it ever was under GM, and that means bigger inside, better built, better quality, more refined and better-handling.
Second, can I gently suggest that you drop the aircraft allusions; they don’t sell cars. Third, refine the design language; be bold and original, but classy. And realise that it is possible to make cars that are both beautiful and alternative-looking.
Lastly, give us a car that’ll bring some younger clientèle into showrooms and some extra desirability to the brand. A TT rival, or even smaller; maybe a Saab ‘Mito’. You could even call it a Sonett if you like. Best of luck to you.

I don’t necessarily agree with some of his earlier sentiments (click through to read the full piece) but I concur with everything except the use of the Sonett name, 100%.
Thanks to various emailers…..
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Just in via email…..
This car is for sale. If you’re in or around Sweden and you’re after a slingshot, get in touch.
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Wheels.ca have a review of the Saab 9-3 online at the moment and it’s an encouraging read.
Is it just me or did the 9-3 struggle to gain traction after the 2008 facelift, a trend that’s starting to ease since the announced separation from GM? Maybe it’s just wishful thinking?

Being known primarily for outside-the-box designs and turbocharging were not enough, nor was the ad copy tie-in to Saab’s aircraft-building origins. The few Saab loyalists decried the adoption of GM platforms and engines.
However, the past three years have been kind to the 9-3, and it deserves more notice than it garners.
Since 2006, Saab has added the option of a delightful and punchy 280 hp turbocharged V6 (used in Aero models); tweaked the 9-3’s interior and restyled the front end.

Should we tell him the V6 is gone for 2010??
The conclusion sums up what many of us feel ourselves.

It’s been a long process, but Saab’s renaissance finally appears to be underway. I can’t wait to see what comes with Koenigsegg’s added passion.

Hear hear!
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I’m not sure how big a vote of confidence this is, but it seemed significant to me when I read it.
Saab are said to be considering the sale of older vehicle tooling to BAIC, in China. They should also get some new impetus for their new vehicles out of the BAIC relationship, too.
So how important is the Chinese market, and especially the higher end of it?
Well, Bugatti have apparently just opened their first company showroom outside of France – and it’s in Beijing.
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I don’t know if many of you have read my Damascus Road experience – the day I first came to love Saabs – but just tonight I’ve received some fascinating follow-up on it.
The guy who owned that car, let’s call him Nathan (because that’s his name), is a guy I haven’t seen nor spoken to for around 15 years now. Tonight I got a call from his sister, who’s been a friend of mine for a long time and is married to a good mate of mine.
Anyway, she and I haven’t been in touch for some time, either. It’s one of those things that happens when you move to a different city. November will see her husband turn 40 and she called to invite us over for the party. We got to catching up on the latest news about various people, one of which was her brother, Nathan.
I thought he’d have given up his Saab interest years ago when his 9000 died. It cost him an awful lot of money (he drove it pretty hard) and he was a country kid with an interest in the 4WD stuff. It turns out he hasn’t lost his Saab interest, though.
In fact, he’s apparently got wickedly fast red Saab that Rachel wasn’t able to accurately describe to me. Nathan will be overseas so I won’t be able to thank him for all the Saabology in my life – if only he knew what he started – but hopefully the car might be there at the 40th so I can check it out.
It’s always nice to close these circles.

The Financial Review – Saab 9-3

Yes, amidst all the business drama surrounding Saab and the Koenigsegg Group, there’s actually been a road test of sorts published about the Saab 9-3.
This one’s an interesting one, too, especially for those like me who don’t live in a country that taxes vehicles according to emissions. The review is published on a site called Business Green and as the name might suggest, they have a focus on emissions and taxation when it comes to car reviews.
The Saab 9-3 fares rather well, too.
Saab have delberately aimed the 2010 Saab 9-3 at the emissions-conscious with the TTiD now coming into a lower tax band, below 140 g/kg of CO2. This hasn’t been lost on the Business Green people, either.

Generating up to 180bhp and 400Nm (295lbft) of torque, the EcoPower engine offers enough poke to make the 9-3 feel very quick indeed, but it does so with a combined-cycle CO2 output of 139g/km. This equates to 53.3mpg, and puts the 1.9TTiD into VED band E, where an annual tax disc costs just £120.
For comparison, the outgoing petrol-powered 2.0t Saab 9-3 emits 216g/km and sits in band K, costing £215 to tax, while developing 175bhp and a much lower 265Nm (195lbft) of torque. And it’s largely torque, or the lack of it, that makes a car feel quick or slow to accelerate.

As you can see, you get the change, the effect and the cost (saving) for the car.
They don’t just confine themselves to numbers, however, with the review covering all the things you’d normally expect to see in a road review. Perhaps not in the same depth as a pure car magazine, but enough to give the average business customer a good indicator as to the quality of the car.
The Saab 9-3 rates well, too. I don’t know how popular this site is, but I hope a good number of potential Saab people get to see it.

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