9-5 facelift writeup


Most of the 9-5 articles so far have just been a reprint of the GM press release. Its good to see a few publishers taking the time to write up a more detailed appraisal of the updated vehicle.

It’s even better to see it’s my in-laws at Auto123 in Canada!

2006 Version is Most Thorough 9-5 Upgrade in Years

At eight years old, many consider the Saab 9-5 to be on its last remaining leg. Having had a facelift once already, with several interim powerplant and model-line upgrades, the car that remains is truly an acquired taste. Nevertheless, needing to give its loyal consumers a large car to move up to while the next-generation 9-5 is in development (speculated for 2008), the current 9-5 will soldier on with yet another post-mid-cycle revision. Making its debut at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, the 2006 9-5 is the most comprehensive redo to date, covering everything from powertrain to interior.

The most obvious changes affect its exterior, which now sports completely revised front and back ends. It’s quite an aggressive approach to Saab styling, and is the first production implementation of the design language first spotted in the bold 9-X and 9-3X concepts. Saab has taken its traditional grille with two offset, diagonal spars and separated them; the central grille is now smaller, and the headlamp bezel incorporates the components, as well as the covered headlamp bulbs. Both are outlined in chrome, to catch the eye. Below this, the bumper is completely new, and features a centre intake with body-coloured ribs, offset on both sides by Audi-esque intakes that have ‘teardrop’ bulges for fog lamps.

There’s also some insight into the structural changes, although the depth to which these will take effect is anyone’s guess until the specs come out.

Underneath, the old platform remains, but Saab’s engineers have tried their best to extend the 9-5’s shelf-life by revising its suspension. While it’s unclear what exactly has been changed, expect new springs, dampers, uprated anti-roll bars, all with wider front and rear track for a better footprint on the road. Other important revisions include a sharpened steering system, hopefully something that will help filter out the 9-5’s rabid torque steer and fidgety cornering. More information about these changes will follow in an in-depth preview after the vehicle’s debut.

I’ve dealt with the interior here before. Whilst I don’t think it really suits, it’s not an ugly edifice. My main concern, shared by a bunch of other Saabisti, is the fact that many of the controls will be shared by multiple GM vehicles, lessening the individuality factor, which is so often enjoyed by owners. Auto123 have a kinder take:

The cockpit – we stress this because of its fighter jet layout and Saab’s fighter jet manufacturing history – has also been freshened. The driver-focused, wrap-around cabin, a true Saab trademark now, has new door trims, new faces for the semi-circle gauges on the instrument cluster, and a sportier multi-function steering wheel, borrowed from the 9-3. Also freshened is the centre console which includes new, simplified HVAC controls that use round knobs rather than tiny, complex pushbuttons, and a new large-format satellite navigation screen. Yes, the clever ‘ballerina’ cupholder, and the ‘floor’ mounted key are still there.

There’s much more to this excellent writeup. You can read the full article here at Auto123

The last paragraph is very interesting indeed:

To go along with the updated 9-5 and the new 9-3 Aero range, there are rumours that General Motors could be showing off a new Saab concept in Frankfurt, which might be the final vehicle styled by ex-Saab designer Michael Mauer. To be based on the next-generation Epsilon platform, which will be used as a base for the next-generation Saab 9-3, 9-5, Opel Vectra and Signum, and Cadillac BLS, this large two-seat sports car could incorporate styling that may hint at the 9-4x crossover vehicle, expected for 2007. The only thing that’s been confirmed is that GM will be showing an “Adventurous Concept”, although the brand within which the vehicle belongs is unspecified.

3-door version of the “9-6x” anyone? Djup Strupe did indicate to me from viewing the vehicle that it was of 9-3, or Epsilon, proportions. It’ll be interesting to see, that’s for sure.


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  1. What a sad day…. having owned several Sabb 9-5’s, the latest being a 2003 Aero, I am not sure what I will be buying next. It certainly won’t be the new 9-5 with the Chevy Impala front end.

    Congratualtions Saab/GM, you’ve managed to ruin one of the most uniquely bold looking vehicles I have ever fallen for. Saab/GM should have considered consulting Saab owners before releasing this weak looking front end design to manufacturing.

  2. Hi Mark,

    Whilst I respect your opinion and understand your disappointment, I’m not sure I agree with your comparison. There’s not much to compare between those two vehicles in terms of looks as far as I can see. Maybe the extra hole extending under the grill (3 slots in the 9-5’s case).

    I know a lot of people are taken aback by the new design, and as you’ve owned a few of them I could understand your attachment. But a lot more a warming to it too. I hope you go and see one and don’t write it off until you do.

    I’m not trying to do Gm’s defensive work here, but these things tend to look better when you get to put your hands on them, just like the real photos look better than the spy photos.

    Amyway, thanks for dropping by.

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