A sensible family road test

Here’s a test I hadn’t seen before. I’m used to seeing American road jockeys grab a bunch of cars, thrash them beyond their limitations and then pick the winner they’d had in mind before they started. Trust the poms to come up with a family based road test that actually relates to 75% or more of their readership.

All you North American readers, please don’t hate me for that. I still haven’t got over Car & Driver’s harsh treatment of the 9-3 Aero.

The Times Online took a bunch of cars and gave them to a growing family. Mum, Dad and daughter with another on the way. A lot of prospective Saab buyers in the UK would likely be in similar situations and facing a similar decision.

The family were a bit unsure as to what they would want, so the Times arranged test drives of five different cars, which the family immediately whittled down to three, those being The Saab 9-5 Linear Estate (or sportwagon in different markets), Peugeot 407 Estate and the Mitsubishi Grandis MPV.

Here’s what they had to say about the Saab:

John and Melanie decided to test-drive the Saab by taking Ella on a picnic using the A-roads rather than the motorways to get to the North Downs. The first thing they noticed was the car’s comfort and quietness. Although it has been dubbed a car for people with a bohemian instinct, they felt it was the most conventional of the three they tested.

“It had everything you wanted,” said John. “When I needed to get past a caravan, it shot from 40 to 60mph in what seemed like a fraction of a second. I got the feeling it would eat up the distance on a long journey and that you would hardly know you had travelled when you got there.”

The five-seat Saab, which has a top speed of 134mph and does 0-60mph in 9.6sec, is noted for its smooth, fast, quiet, cruising ability. It was definitely a hit with the Davieses. Melanie was delighted with the individualised climate control. “John doesn’t like to use the heater because it makes him sleepy,” she said. “But I get fed up either sitting there frozen with the cold or with 16 coats on.”

Although it appears that the Saab left the greatest impression on them, they ended up choosing the Peugeot due to the price differential. It appears the Saab was the better car, but the Pug was the better car for the money.

An interesting test all the same and a format that will relate to many. The full test is here at the Times Online.

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