newest Saab 9-5 replaces the 12 years-old 9000 series to target BMW 5
and Audi A6. Is it capable enough to beat those brilliant rivals,
the BMW ? In specification, 9-5 is intended to provide 90% the quality
of Mercedes, BMW and Audi, and then undercut them in price. As it is
on Opel Vectra's suspensions and Omega's V6 engine (though the entry
2.0 and 2.3 litres inline-4 turbo are inhouse-built, which serve 9000
for many years), the new 9-5 is even more cost-effective than its
which was famous of platform sharing with Fiat group.
900, 9-5 is less characterful with those German competitors. However,
engines are quite special. Perhaps Saab wants to reminding you that it
was the pioneer of turbocharging technology, all three engines are
with light-pressure turbocharger, which is a low cost solution for lack
of torque. Look at the 3 litres V6: Peak power 200hp is actually lower
than the normally-aspirated version it based on, but the torque is
up and became more accessible at low rpm. Not only flexible,
turbocharging also benefits fuel consumption.
of the superior torque advantage, Saab 9-5 performs strong in normal
use. Nevertheless, it has not got the necessary chassis to cope with.
terms of handling, it was found to be too nose-heavy, thus generating
understeering. Steering is as lifeless as typical Japanese cars.
can never compare with German cars because of excessive body roll, but
this also implying a very comfortable ride is obtained.
comes to the cabin, the Saab regain so many scores : spacious,
seats, stylish (aero-style) dashboard, nice quality of
competitions are too strong. I doubt whether 9-5 can steal sales from
5 series and Audi A6, especially when the A6 is also a bargain.
above report was last updated in 1998. All Rights Reserved.
the unfavourable experience of 9-3 Viggen is still living in our
Saab presents us the 9-5 Aero, a high performance 9-5 sharing the
with Viggen. The 2.3-litre turbo four is as explosive as ever, with a
258 lbft of torque starting from 1900rpm. Instead of the younger
225hp, it boost 5 more horses, thanks to a more generous engine
program. Even so, turbo lag is not noticeble, because the electronic
will automatically open wider at initial acceleration in order to bring
the turbine to operation earlier. Moreover, the revised software allows
overboost for 20 seconds, lifting the torque output to 273 lbft for
is no less impressive than the 9-3 Viggen, despite of the heavier body.
Saab claims a 150mph top speed and 6.7 sec to 60mph, which is easily
Although the power still transfer to the front wheels, the 9-5 Aero
a lot better than the 9-3 Viggen. While the Viggen upset its driver
torque steer, scare him with wheel spin and discomfort him with
ride, the Aero avoided all such trouble. Torque steer does not exist
under the hardest acceleration. It should be noted that the basis of
Aero, that is, the 9-5, has a much modern chassis than the 9-3. Its
torsional rigidity, advancer suspension design and its wider body
handling a lot without needing to stiffen the suspension too much.
spin is taken care by the addition of traction control (why not in the
9-3 ? perhaps Saab should rethink about it), also helped by the heavier
body. In short, the 9-5 Aero provides a smooth and mature driving
that the Viggen couldn’t hope for.
is not to say the Aero is the best sports saloon. Its straight four,
of twin balance shafts, does not rev as smooth as a six at higher rpm.
Sound quality is also inferior. The suspension setting is bias towards
ride comfort rather than handling, so body roll is not as well checked
as the German opponents. Moreover, as a front-wheel drive, you can’t
power oversteer, although understeer is not an apparent issue in the
Anyway, for those who want more performance without sacrificing
this is the car you must seriously consider.
make the Aero, Saab has lowered the 9-5’s ride height by 10mm,
its spring and dampers, installed aero skirts and 225/45 ZR 17 tyres
everything just predictable. What unpredictable is the pricing : in UK
it is 10% cheaper than the smaller and far worst 9-3 Viggen. Saab’s
proved that they don’t need TWR to teach them how to tune a high
sedan. Do it in Sweden and save money.
above report was last updated on 2 Nov 99. All
I always like the characterful Saab 9-5, writing about any facelift is
unlikely to be very enjoyable. Basically, this is a lists of minor
that won't raise your curiosity:
restyled grille, lamps and bumpers inject more elegance to the
shape. Front structure is stiffer now.
around 10% stiffer spring rate and 1mm thicker anti-roll bars
the whole range to deliver sharper handling, and surprisingly, with
price to pay in the ride department. Of course, it is still far from
standard set by BMW 5-series.
engines: much the same as before, but Aero's 2.3-litre four has been
to produce another 20 horsepower (now 250hp). Sadly, it is no longer
as a result. Torque steer is also easier to induce. I'd rather have the
old engine unchanged.
engines: a new Isuzu V6 is added through the relationship with parent
GM. 3-litres, all-alloy, 24-valves, common-rail injection, variable
turbo ... all seemed sophisticated, but it output just 176 horsepower
258 lbft of torque, inferior to BMW 530d's 184hp / 288 lbft. Refinement
is good by Isuzu standard but bad for exec cars, with too much
and noise. However, performance and fuel consumption are good.
new 5-speed automatic replaces 4-speed. Still lack of Tiptronic gadget.
above report was last updated on 27 Nov
2001. All Rights Reserved.
would have been renewed if GM did not pull out from the premium
platform program co-developed with Alfa Romeo 159. Today, the 9-5 is
already 7 years old, but Saab still needs it to soldier on for 3 more
years until the replacement come - that will be based on the next
Opel Vectra platform. Therefore Saab has introduced another facelift
to the car.
the facelift brought 9-5 a new mask - Spiderman-like. Underneath the
skin remains the same chassis. The long-serving turbocharged
2.0-litre and 2.3-litre four-cylinder continues to power the 9-5.
However, the latter now has 3 state of tune: 185 hp, 220 hp and, for
the performance flagship Aero, 260 hp. If you compare with the old
Aero, you will find it has gained 10 horsepower, thanks to improved
intake. Torque output remains unchanged at 258 lbft, so does the
overboost function, which can crank out 273 lbft for at most 20
seconds. Saab claims 155 mph top speed and 0-60 mph can be done in
6.6 seconds, representing a reduction of 0.1 second from the old car,
which is hard to detect. However, the high boost 2.3 engine is always
a strong powerplant, with abundance of punch once you overcome the
slight initial turbo lag. If you want smoother power delivery, I
suspect the 220 hp light-pressure version could be a better choice.
Its 146 mph top speed and 7.4 seconds 0-60 mph acceleration are also
the straight-four engines cannot match a six-cylinder engine of course.
Saab has added a 2.8 turbo V6 to the 9-3 recently, but it won't be
applied to the 9-5 because the re-engineering cost could not be
recovered in its remaining life. So an interesting scene occurs: the
lower class car gets a V6 while the upper class car gets 4-cylinder
engines only. Nevertheless, the fans of Saab may be glad that the 9-5
is powered by a Swedish-built engine in the traditional 4-cylinder
suspensions have been retuned with stiffer dampers, bushings and
anti-roll bars but softer rear springs for regular models. The Aero
has 10 percent stiffer dampers and, as before, rides 10 mm lower than
regular models. However, Saab knows very well that the outdated
chassis of 9-5 can never match German premium cars in dynamics, so
they retain the comfort-biased character of the suspensions. The
revised 9-5 actually rides smoother and quieter than before, making
it a good companion for long-distance travel. What a pity at high
speed cruising the pronounced wind noise started showing its age.
showing its age is the cabin. While ergonomics is still excellent,
quality is not. You will be disappointed with its hard plastics and
wide panel gaps.
is still a weak point of 9-5. It might be a little better than
before, but cannot catch up with the progress of its rivals. The
problem mainly lies in body roll (which it has a lot), agility (which
it lacks) and torque steer which associates with the most powerful
Aero. It's way better than the 9-3 Viggen era, but these days our
standard has raised and we can no longer tolerate torque steer in a
premium executive car.
it may be, the 9-5 is still loyal to the traditional character of
Saab – fast, comfortable, practical and affordable. It remains a
true Saab, and, ironically, probably the last true Saab. It deserves a
above report was last updated on 24 Oct
2005. All Rights Reserved.