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A different tangent. Image by Syd Wall.

A different tangent
What do you buy as an alternative to the German prestige marques? Why not consider the Saab 9-5 saloon?

 



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| A Week at the Wheel | Bucks, England | Saab 9-5 Vector Sport saloon |

It always seems like the Germans have the prestige car market well and truly sown up. But there lies the rub. So popular is the BMW 3 Series with thrusting young executives that it outsells the supposedly mass-market Ford Mondeo. Sales figures for the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class also point to a lack of exclusivity, but surely that is the whole point of prestige - not everyone has one?

What do you do when everyone else in the street has one of the aforementioned German cars? How do you stand out without looking like an exhibitionist? Visit your Saab dealer, that's what you do. The Saab 9-5 saloon carries all the prestige of the German cars and the same build quality, yet you won't see one on every street corner or every other driveway in your cul-de-sac.

The facelifted Saab 9-5 range, introduced in 2006, is sleeker than before, with a bold new front end including distinctive chrome headlamp surrounds. The shape manages to be striking whilst remaining subtle. The new front end styling takes its cues from the Saab 9X concept car, and while it could never be anything but a Saab, hints at the future direction for the company. There are changes under the skin too: the rear track has been widened and the dampers, springs and anti-roll bars have been retuned for improved handling. There is also a new range of engines available.

Our particular car was powered by the 1.9-litre diesel engine we have previously tested in both the 9-3 Convertible and the 9-3 SportWagon. This engine produces 148bhp and is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox in the 9-5, where the class norm is now a six-speed manual, or most likely an automatic gearbox. More importantly, there is 236lb.ft of torque available at 2,000rpm, which provides the typical turbodiesel low down shove. Even the larger body of the 9-5 over the 9-3 does little to blunt the acceleration, a 0-60mph time of 9.5 seconds is entirely reasonable for just a 1.9-litre, as is the top speed of 127mph.

Some Saabs have become a little diluted since being taken over by GM, but the 9-5 is a Saab through and through. That aerodynamic shape seems to have changed little since the Saab 99, yet put the two side by side and there's no mistaking over 30 years of evolution. Because it's a Saab, the ignition barrel is between the seats, down by the gear lever. And because it's a Saab, you know it has that Scandinavian thoroughness when it comes to safety - must be the thought of all those elks running out in front of you.

So the Saab 9-5 predictably scored the full five Euro NCAP stars in adult occupant protection. In addition to all the normal kit, the 9-5 comes with active head rests to reduce the effects of whiplash in a crash. To cut down on driver distraction, there is a night dash function that switches off everything bar the speedometer, unless something is amiss, which brings in the appropriate gauge.

But what does it drive like? Put simply: like a worthy competitor to the Germans. Just as we found when installed in the smaller 9-3 range, the 1.9-litre entry is rather refined for a diesel and capable of providing decent enough performance despite being smaller than you might expect in this class. With wind noise also being minimal, the Saab 9-5 proved a very quiet car to travel around in. Less noise means less tiring in my book, making long distance travel a far more pleasurable experience. Although the Saab 9-5 runs the now ubiquitous 17-inch alloys with low profile tyres, the ride/handling compromise still leans more to the ride end of the scale. Passengers will love this car, but there's just enough handling ability to keep the keen driver's interest. As the Germans seem to lean further and further across the scale to the detriment of ride quality, so surely the Saab will make friends of those whose priorities are more in line with the 9-5's qualities.

Our car had the usual smattering of extras to bump up the price, chief of these being the £2,200 satnav-cum-audio-upgrade. If only this satnav accepted post code input it would be perfect. As it is, it's still my favourite manufacturer fit system for its ease of use (you don't need to be a rocket scientist, nor even read the manual). It's quite fitting really; the Saab 9-5 is just like that too; it's easy to use, asks little of the driver but gives much in return. Dedicated buyers of the German marques really ought to try it.
2007 Saab 9-5 range overview

ModelUK (£ on-the-road)Ireland: (€ on-the-road)
Saab 9-5 Saloon
Saab 9-5 Linear 2.0t £21,845€44,580
Saab 9-5 Linear 1.9 TiD £22,265€45,800
Saab 9-5 Linear 2.0t BioPower £22,430€46,870
Saab 9-5 Linear Sport /Anniversary 2.0t £22,845€47,350
Saab 9-5 Linear 2.3t £23,060n/a
Saab 9-5 Linear Sport /Anniversary 1.9 TiD £23,265€48,570
Saab 9-5 Linear Sport /Anniversary 2.0t BioPower £23,430€49,640
Saab 9-5 Linear 2.3t BioPower £23,645n/a
Saab 9-5 Linear Sport /Anniversary 2.3t £24,060n/a
Saab 9-5 Vector 2.0t £24,255n/a
Saab 9-5 Linear Sport /Anniversary 2.3t BioPower £24,645n/a
Saab 9-5 Vector 2.0t BioPower £24,840n/a
Saab 9-5 Vector Sport /Anniversary 2.0t £25,105€53,480
Saab 9-5 Vector 1.9 TiD £25,320n/a
Saab 9-5 Vector 2.3t £25,470n/a
Saab 9-5 Vector Sport /Anniversary 2.0t BioPower £25,690€55,770
Saab 9-5 Vector 2.3t BioPower £26,055n/a
Saab 9-5 Vector Sport /Anniversary 1.9 TiD£26,170€54,700
Saab 9-5 Vector Sport /Anniversary 2.3t £26,320n/a
Saab 9-5 Vector Sport /Anniversary 2.3t BioPower £26,905n/a
Saab 9-5 Aero /Anniversary 2.3HOT £29,240€61,870
Saab 9-5 Estate
Saab 9-5 Linear 1.9 TiD £22,865€47,830
Saab 9-5 Linear 2.0t £23,045€46,610
Saab 9-5 Linear 2.0t BioPower £23,630€48,900
Saab 9-5 Linear Sport /Anniversary 1.9 TiD £23,865€50,600
Saab 9-5 Linear Sport /Anniversary 2.0t £24,045€49,380
Saab 9-5 Linear 2.3t £24,260n/a
Saab 9-5 Linear Sport /Anniversary 2.0t BioPower £24,630€51,670
Saab 9-5 Linear 2.3t BioPower £24,845n/a
Saab 9-5 Linear Sport /Anniversary 2.3t £25,260n/a
Saab 9-5 Vector 2.0t £25,455n/a
Saab 9-5 Linear Sport /Anniversary 2.3t BioPower £25,845n/a
Saab 9-5 Vector 1.9 TiD £25,920n/a
Saab 9-5 Vector 2.0t BioPower £26,040n/a
Saab 9-5 Vector Sport /Anniversary 2.0t £26,305€55,510
Saab 9-5 Vector 2.3t £26,670n/a
Saab 9-5 Vector Sport /Anniversary 1.9 TiD £26,770€56,730
Saab 9-5 Vector Sport /Anniversary 2.0t BioPower £26,890€57,800
Saab 9-5 Vector 2.3t BioPower £27,255n/a
Saab 9-5 Vector Sport /Anniversary 2.3t £27,520n/a
Saab 9-5 Vector Sport /Anniversary 2.3t BioPower £28,105n/a
Saab 9-5 Aero /Anniversary 2.3HOT £30,440€63,900


Trevor Nicosia - 13 Jul 2007









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2007 Saab 9-5 saloon specifications: (Vector Sport 1.9 TiD)
Price: £26,170 on-the-road (test car was fitted with optional extras).
0-60mph: 9.5 seconds
Top speed: 127mph
Combined economy: 44.1mpg
Emissions: 174g/km
Full technical specifications

2007 Saab 9-5. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Saab 9-5. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Saab 9-5. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Saab 9-5. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Saab 9-5. Image by Syd Wall.

2007 Saab 9-5. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Saab 9-5. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Saab 9-5. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Saab 9-5. Image by Syd Wall.2007 Saab 9-5. Image by Syd Wall.



2007 Saab 9-5. Image by Syd Wall.
 

2007 Saab 9-5. Image by Syd Wall.
 

2007 Saab 9-5. Image by Syd Wall.
 

2007 Saab 9-5. Image by Syd Wall.
 

2007 Saab 9-5. Image by Syd Wall.
 

2007 Saab 9-5. Image by Syd Wall.
 






 

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