9-5 spyshot summary

There’s been a few more spyshots floating around in anticipation of the facelifted 9-5, which is scheduled for unveiling at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

In chronological order, here’s what we’ve seen so far:



These two were the first images seen, and were let loose a few months ago. Apparently they were cameraphone pics taken on the assembly line and then published in a magazine (I don’t know which one).

Interestingly, the rear lights pictured don’t feature in the latest shots (below). Also, there’s no reverse lights or indicators in the light cluster.

The front-end shot didn’t cause much of a stir at the time, but the following shot certainly did, as it showed that the three-hole grill may be losing it’s place as a definite Saab identifier.

Photo: Hans G Lehmann

Theories have suggested that the white car above has been photoshopped to make it look more like the top photos. The 3-slat grille at the base and fuzzy headlights certainly do look a little suspect to me. One enterprising SC’er even went to the trouble of tracing the registration number and found the following:

WTR 271 is owned by “Saab Automobile Aktiebolag. Trollhattan”

Purchased: April 26, 2005
Registered: April 27, 2005
First used: April 28, 2005

model year: 2005

The car is actually listed as a “Test car. Vehicle may be used in traffic according to exceptions granted by VVFS 1994:5”

This now leaves us with the latest supposed spyshots, sourced from Autoweek.



Unfortunately these are a little small. The front grille area looks different again (are those vertical slats on the main grille?) and the headlights look waaaaay too small. The rear treatment looks almost consistent with the current model 9-5.

All these differences would lead me to think that there’s a few test mules out there with different panel setups just to keep us all guessing. The other logical path is that there’s a bit of photoshopping going on with these as well. Certainly not out of the question.

Some other 9-5 thoughts to bear in mind:

– The car is to get a re-trimmed interior.

– The V6 will also be offered and possibly retuned a little hotter than the 9-3.

All will be revealed in Frankfurt I guess, but it’s fun to speculate.

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  1. Saab has overextended the current 9-5 model. I don’t think a new grille, headlights, and other minor enhancements will increase or maintain sales. Isn’t the new redesign supposed to be released in 2008? That’s practically 10 years with the current model design. Sorry I’m not too excited with these spyshots. Saab should release a new design every 5 years or so.

  2. Dan, I think you’ve captured most people’s thoughts pretty well there. I think the reasoning behind it is that the development costs for the 9-3 SportCombi, 9-6x and other future models have left the 9-5 high and dry. It’s still a great car and I’m not sure that many other manufacturers could get the longevity out of a model, but in the end, you’re right. Sales aren’t going to get boosted significantly with this re-vamp

  3. “Saab should release a new design every 5 years or so”.

    – Average model life cycle for SAAB car is about 12-13 years. SAAB is not a Japanese make to change design every 3 years. However, I have to agree that this facelift is not going to boost sales. At all. Nor will it get any positive publicity for the brand.

    The Frankfurt release will only rise another series of publications about SAAB crisis, staying behind, slow progress, permanent facelifts etc. Even the old rebadging stories will be remembered again in the worst context. There IS such a thing as bad press. And it’s gonna be the case.

    Call me a pessimist, but I bet there won’t be a single positive review.

    So, if this facelift is not going to boost sales or generate publicity, than what is it meant for?

  4. I think it must have been a tough business decision for GM/SAAB to make, where to best pour development and production money (9-7X, 9-3 SC, 9-6X) over the next couple of years, in order to achieve the short-term broader goals of increasing sales via existing customer retention, attracting new customers and so forth. While the 9-5 has been rated very well by Consumer Reports, it has not been a “sales leader” in the past 2-3 years. And with a brand new replacement coming in 2008/09, it’s must have been a tough case of benefit/cost analysis that caused the downing of more than a few bottles of Pepto Bismol by the product planners, marketers and the beancounters. Even if SAAB had put all its efforts behind launching a brand new 9-5 for RIGHT NOW (thus possibly forgoing or delaying 9-3 SC, 9-6X), most of the world would barely notice, if at all, and that still leaves SAAB with a core two-model lineup while 9-2X sales simmer and 9-7X sales slowly pick up momentum but not enough to bring in the needed cash for SAAB to stick to the game plan of launching new models.

    I too wish for an immediate 9-5 replacement but looking at the big picture, I sense SAAB is doing the right thing right now. Always easy to criticize, hard to praise !

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