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.

Geneva Snippets – 9-3x Edition

I’ve finally made my landing in Geneva and it was great to hit terra firma again after 36 hours from door to door. There’s just no easy way of getting from Tasmania to Europe. At least I’ve signed up for frequent flyer points this time 🙂

I met my hosts, Marc and Priska at the airport and got a ride to their home in their Saab 9-3x. More about them and that car later, it’s a great story.

Tomorrow night, we dine with Dimitri and Fredric (from www.dimichi.ch), our unofficial ambassador Saab in the UK, Robin M and Mr Redj himself. If others are in the area and want to join us, just let me know. I’m sure we can expand the booking.

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And speaking of the Saab 9-3x, a comparative test has been published pitting the smaller Saab Softroader against the Volvo V60. The magazine is a Danish one called Dine Penge.

I’ll let you go there and do a full Googletrans (they might not like it if I post the full test here), but it’s encouraging reading considering their setup of a brand new model vs an eight-year-old platform.

Jesper has provided an edited version and here are some highlights from it:

When you consider that the Saab 9-3 in its current form is merely a continuous facelift of a model which was introduced way back in 2002, then it is in its place with a solid and heartfelt “Wow!” It has oceans of surplus, a tight and comfortable chassis, lots of equipment and so have the X factor. It has its own on an amazing charming way, with the key located below the front seats and the curved aircraft windscreen. While most new cars today will run in the same direction, then Saab is not afraid to stick out. To be completely his own. And particularly in the tested 9-3X version has more character than Ole Ernst’s eyebrows together…..

…..Volvo comes to a basic version with D3 diesel engine 503,000 crowns ($93,000). But you must have it in an equipment level that matches Saabs, then it will come much closer to 600,000 crowns ($111,000). The 9-3X is priced at 499,900 crowns ($92,000), and it is really well equipped. Oil burner(parking heater?), xenon headlamps, electric chairs, cool rims and everything you expect of comfort features in a car in half million is present in the Saab. Only thing missing is a navigation device, but it can be bought for 42,500 crowns together with a solid upgraded stereo and it’s close to what they in the U.S. call ‘Fully Loaded’. That speaks so much to the Saab’s advantage when accounts must be made up.

Audi A4 Avant with 170 horsepower costs about the same as the Volvo, while the BMW 320d Touring is 100,000 crowns ($18,000) more expensive. Seen in this light, the Saab 9-3X is a really very prestigious estate car for the money. Volvo, is in itself the best car of the two Swedes – and it would be strange otherwise, because the basic structure is eight years later. But should I choose, I would be in doubt. Because the Saab is so damn cool, and it turns significantly more heads in traffic than the Volvo.

It’s a review well worth the reading. The above seems like a long passage, but it’s really just a small part of it.

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You wouldn’t believe it, but here in suburban Geneva, at around 3pm, I just saw a black Dodge Challenger.

And earlier this week, back in Hobart, I saw a new Chevy Camaro. Considering they don’t sell them in Australia, someone’s gone to great expense to pay an importer to get one here and swap the steering to the other side. They’ve possibly paid upwards of $100K for what is a $30,000 or so car in its home market.

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Saab’s press conference is scheduled for 11:45am tomorrow, Geneva time.

RedJ has already noted the live coverage that the Geneva people will be providing. We’ll be getting all we can up on site as soon as possible.

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A couple of CSI-watching Saab fans noted a Saab 95 being shown in a recent episode. Here’s a couple of screencaps…..

Swedish press drive Saab 9-5 SportCombi

This is a report that we’ve already linked to and covered here on SU. RedJ linked to it last week and covered one particular perspective of the story – the fact that Saab might get the new 9-5 down below 120g/km emissions.

That is indeed a significant story, especially if they can do it with the wagon. It’d be a heck of an achievement if they can maintain reasonable power and attain such low emissions, as they’ve done with the Saab 9-3 TTiD.

There was a bigger context to that story, however. RedJ touched on it by reproducing the last section of this story but I’m not sure how many people clicked through and did a translation. The bigger story – the Swedish press getting an exclusive preview drive of the new Saab 9-5 SportCombi.

Martin B has provided a translation of the original story for us, which is essential reading for all those interested in the new Saab 9-5 SportCombi. My thanks to Martin for sending it in.

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The Saab 9-5 SportCombi is highly anticipated and necessary to lift Saab to profitability. The biggest threat is the market’s fear of poor residual values, but that feels misplaced.

The first hatchback versions of the new 9-5 left the assembly line just before Christmas. After some necessary tuning, “Tjänstebilsfakta“ (i.e Company Car facts), together with a selected number of residual value experts, took a place behind the wheel of the No. 2 and 3 cars, in a record early test drive of just over one month old cars.

The new 9-5 reached Saab’s sales expectations in the large Sedan segment in 2011. Now it is up to the new 9-5 SportCombi to show the model’s full potential.

The Wagon is the same car from the front to the back seat. The ceiling over the back seat was raised by 10-15 mm for better facilities and roofline pulled out and ended in an integrated spoiler, which turns into a steep sloping rear tailgate, which is shared by a lateral light ramp between the rear lights.

The C-pillar is sharply upwards-forwards from rear side windows- a classic Saab design known as the “hockey stick”. The hidden D-pillars make the rear window and rear side windows seem to run together.

Somebody says, it is better looking than the sedan. That is a matter of taste. But the wagon is really attractive and stylish, which is quite important in a world where cars are becoming more streamlined, and in principle are good, serviceable and safe working tools. It’s almost like a hatchback, as someone in the party put it.

Consequently, the new 9-5 SC also houses fewer litres than in the Volvo and BMW 5 Series Touring. But the 530 liters to 555 liters and 560 is quite enough to meet most family demands. They have survived for twelve long years with the old 9-5 – and it was much smaller.

Read more

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!

Friday Snippets – Fire edition

I was quite distressed last night to hear about a fire being deliberately lit in my favourite hotel – the Scandic Swania in Trollhattan.

Most people who have visited Trollhattan would be familiar with the Swania and I know a bunch of SU readers have stayed there over the years during Saab Festival and other events. It’s great views, wonderful rooms, exceptional staff (and great breakfasts!) make it a wonderful place to stay when you’re visiting the land of Saab.

Thankfully, no-one was hurt in the fire. I hope they catch the bastard that lit it and that the Scandic group can rebuild the damaged sections of the hotel soon.

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Saab fans in south-east Pennsylvania should look in on the SE Penn Saab Club forum and check out the Independence Day drive they’re organising for February 20th.

The plan at the moment is for a light brunch around 10am and then a drive to the appropriately named Victory brewing company for a tour and a lunch.

They need to book the tour, so check in at the forum and show your interest.

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Speaking of Saab gatherings, the Saab Swiss Fondue meeting was held last weekend in Switzerland. Around 60+ people and 30 Saabs were there for the weekend and it looks like there was a good time, and plenty of cheese, had by all.

They got some good media coverage, too. This is just one of many…..

The event was organised by Dimini.ch, who sell wonderful scale model Saabs (and a few others).

There are plenty of photos here and even some good video over at Saab Actu.

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Hilton Holloway from Autocar has published a review of the baby of the Saab 9-5 range – the 1.6T petrol version.

It’s actually quite a positive read but the same problems with UK tests persist – a ride experience that’s less comfy than it should be. It seems 18 wheels with 45 profile tyres aren’t doing the trick and if some other setup is available, then UK journos should be getting that alternative.

HH quite likes the 1.6T engine in most instances and the overall finish of the car seems to have improved in his estimation.

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All you advocates of a high powered Saab ought to get your thinking caps on in preparation for the weekend – the SU Hi-Po Challenge will be on.

Till’s Saab adventure

Till72 is a SU regular living in Germany. He owns a Saab 9-3x and pretty soon, he’ll be heading off to the Saab Ice Experience for a bit of ice driving and ice hotelling.

Prior to all that, though, he’s been having a few more localised adventures. This is what he’s been doing.

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Driving a couple of 9-5s, including one owned by Rene Hirsch

Early in the morning, last Wednesday, I was heading towards Sankt Gallen, Switzerland to get a new goodie for my Saab 9-3x. This alone would have been exciting enough but in addition I had a special appointment that day.

But first, I have to rewind a little…..

A week earlier my dealer was kind enough to leave his Aero6 to me for two days so I could get a proper impression. One night I took a ride on a route I often take, in normal life and when I test drive a car. It’s a small winding road with some hills, some serpentines and at the end a few kilometres of Autobahn. The Turbo6 was super impresive – not for a single moment did I feel that the 9-5 was underpowered when accelerating out of the curves or overtaking. XWD and drive sense do a great job and I had it to “intelligent” all the time. I even tried to overdo it a bit in some occasions but nothing really could ruffle the car.

As I got on the Autobahn, I had no traffic ahead (it was quite late) and the road there is absolutely straight so I kicked the pedal down and the 9-5 accelerated eagerly until the HUD showed 252. I lifted my foot a little as there were some bends ahead (I’m a bit shy when I’m driving someone elses car), which I took at 240 without feeling unsecure for a second. To prevent comments about going that fast on public roads: I was literally alone on the Autobahn at that time.

I came away with a very good impression of the Aero V6, which was useful as I had another V6 to drive the next week 🙂

That brings me back to the trip to Switzerland. We had real Saab weather on that day. First sleet, then snow, then sleet again. As I crossed the Swiss border it was snowing heavily, one of those days when you’re even especially happy that you’re in a Saab.

As I arrived at Hirsch’s service area, I handed over my car keys and Manfred from Hirsch and I went up to the dealership where René Hirsch handed us the keys to his personal Saab 9-5 Aero V6. I can tell you that I was pretty excited getting the chance to drive Mr Hirsch’s own car. So with Manfred as navigator I went for a spin through that heavy snow…

I had expected that this test drive would be somehow slower than the week before. Swiss law makes speeding quite expensive to start with. And with the weather, it was maybe the slowest test drive I’ve ever done (remember, I’m shy when I drive someone elses car). Nevertheless it was an excellent test for the handling under those conditions. On our trip we took small, hilly and winding roads and had at best up to 20cm of snow with ice underneath. We passed quite a few cars that could not get up the hills but XWD had absolutely no traction problems.

Towards the end of the test drive we had some clearer roads and I could experience the performance of the engine and the tweaked suspension a bit better. The car feels sportier than the standard version but is still comfortable. The 20“ wheels also play their role in improving handling and they look just awesome.

The extra kick in acceleration with that 330 hp/430Nm performance upgrade is the icing on the V6 cake. We went on the Swiss autobahn where I had the chance to feel acceleration up to some speed I won’t mention here but you can really feel the additional thirty horses. I would have loved to take it to top speed but I have no doubt that you can reach the 260 kph (electronic) limit.

It’s no secret that I’ve always been a fan of the Hirsch stuff. Now I am even more so, and I’d recommend the upgrade to Aero6 owners who’d like some extra driving pleasure.

Secretly I hope to get a chance to try that car again in dry conditions someday… 🙂

As we came back to the dealership I took a look at the showroom which was filled with eight Saabs and ten Lamborghinis. Even though I am not a particular fan of Italian sportscars I have to admit that it’s much better if Saab is to share a showroom with Lamborghini than, for example, with Opel as it was quite often here in Germany.

I can predict quite a few comments as I write this and to those concerned about engine power, I say this: those 330 hp are well suited to the 9-5. Most people would even be fine with the 300 hp base version but those ten percent more power add more than ten percent of additional fun. Combine it with the tweaked suspension and the 20“ wheels and you’ve got a real sporty but comfortable car. It may not be enough to race a 911, but that’s not the purpose of a 9-5, is it?

Thanks again to Andi at Autohaus am Goetheplatz in Munich and René and Manfred at Hirsch for making these experiences possible.

Lasse Sward – we live in different worlds :-)

DN.se’s Lasse Sward has published a review of the low-emissions Saab 9-3 TTiD today and I had to have a giggle as I read the ending.

The test goes extremely well, to be honest. One could go so far as to say it’s almost a glowing review. Well, about as glowing as reviews get in Sweden.

Sward praises the work done on the car to get it below the magic 120g/km mark, and notes that even though the model is older now, it’s still quite capable on the road, very reliable, very safe and despite some cramping in the back when there’s a tall occupant in front, it’s still comfortable and very driver-friendly.

The bit that made me giggle was near the end when he was discussing the fact that three models are available under 120g. They are 130hp, 160hp and 180hp versions – and the fact that the 180hp version is the most powerful ‘green’ car in Sweden is noted.

Sward opines that people should save some money and go for the 130hp version, arguing:

The price starts at 267 800 SEK for version Linear Active. The corresponding ethanol version with 175 hp is 18 000 cheaper – but drink more and thus provide higher mileage, and must also be serviced more often. If you settle for simple diesel engine of 130 horsepower, you’ll get away with 244 000 SEK, a clearly smarter choice in terms of their wallets. And honestly – how many need 180 hp?

It was that last sentence that made me double over.

And honestly, how many [people] need 180hp?

Mr Sward, I’d like to employ you to moderate my comments section. Please. If you can convince a readership that 130hp is perfectly adequate then I’d love you to come in to SU-land and help me to persuade some people here that a 220hp engine, with the option of taking it up to 260hp with factory-backed tuning, is more than perfectly adequate.

It’d certainly save me some time, angst and heartache 🙂

Seriously, it just goes to show the different philosophies from place to place. Sweden is the land of Lagom and Saab, a company who embrace this concept to a large degree, are selling cars to a lot of very different markets from it’s little base in Trollhattan.

Check out that review. It’s well worth the read.

And people – don’t take the bait. I realise quite clearly that more is needed in other markets. I’m just amazed at seeing the difference so stark in this article.

Wednesday morning snippets – sigh

It’d be interesting to know if any markets around the world have Saab 9-5 that sells for more than the price in Singapore.

The price for an Aero – which comes pretty much as a fully loaded car – is SGD$266,888. That’s Singaporean dollars, which converts to around $208,000 in US pesos.

AsiaOne has a review of the car:

With its Scandinavian branding and style, the Saab 9-5 is the alternative choice in the mid-sized luxury saloon segment. At the same time, its technology means this is the most sophisticated and technically advanced Saab ever produced. All these should add up to a very promising future.

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“Lawsuit against Saab for unpaid rent” is a headline in E24 today. Hopefully people in Sweden will read the full story below the headline.

A landlord is claiming what he/she/it believes is unpaid rent. Saab have only paid 25% of the original rent agreed when they first leased the property. Saab believe that the amount they’ve paid is correct because of the ‘composition’ agreement they made last year with creditors during their restructuring process. This agreement wrote down 75% of debts owing to creditors.

No need for panic. Each party has an argument to make and the court will decide.

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Inside Line have posted a review of the Saab 9-5 V6 Aero today and whilst it makes some good reading, one has to wonder Why?

The article is a review of the 2010 model. Why publish a review of the 2010 model when the 2011 is very much available?

As mentioned, the article is quite fair and makes for some very good reading. I just don’t understand why they’ve done it the way they’ve done it.

A suggestion has been made to me that they might have taken a review published previously by sister publication, Edmunds.com, and added some 2011 context to it. I don’t know, but it seems unlikely to me. All I know is it seems strange.

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10 stupid publications that will disappear in 2011.

That’s the headline of an article I’d write if I had both the time and the inclination. #1 on the list would be DailyFinance.com.

Look, no-one thinks the road ahead for Saab will be easy, but basing your judgment of their survival purely on 2010 sales in the US, with no other context provided, is just stoooopid.

By the way, their article is headed “10 American Companies That Will Disappear in 2011” and the first of the American companies listed is “Saab USA”.

The fact that Saab aren’t American to start with, and that Saab USA is no longer an existing entity seems to have passed them by.

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Sigh.

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