Confused Saab 9-5 review

I’d like quickly thank PT for sending in this gem.  Automotive journalism at it’s most nonsensical.  This writeup is from an Aussie publication called GoAuto.  The reviewer is a guy named Neil McDonald.

Let’s start at the finish:

In truth, only a true-blue Saab enthusiast will warm to the new 9-5.

Now, you’d think with an ending like this, the journo wouldn’t have had much that was positive to say about the Saab 9-5.  Read the review though, and you’ll find it pretty well balanced and positive towards the car.  Almost glowing, in fact.

Try these on:

The facelifted 9-5 Aero sedan, like the rest of the range, has undergone some thorough chassis, suspension and substantial engineering changes to keep it in the game.

The body is 40 per cent stiffer, the front suspension has a stronger sub-frame and the rear track is 6mm wider…..

 ….The front now adopts the grille and headlight design from the 9X concept car. It’s cleaner and offers a peek at where Saab design is headed over the next few years…..

…..In profile we reckon the SportsEstate – Saab’s terminology for wagon – is still one of the most attractive looking wagons around…..

…..beefier ventilated brakes – 308mm up front and 300mm at the back. Their stopping power proved a strong point.

Given all the attention to the chassis and suspension it’s no surprise to find that the Aero SportsEstate actually rides and handles very well.

On the road, it is a most un-wagon-like wagon…..

…..For occupants, the cabin remains muted even at high cruising speeds and the cabin ambience is top-notch…..

…..Saab has managed to eliminate the Aero’s initial suspension harshness and tendency to bottom. The changes make for a general refined all-round tourer…..

…..Inside, the excellent ergonomics of the old 9-5 have been improved.

The stereo system and functions are easier to use and the climate-control dials are simpler…..

…..The Aero sports seats, as with all Saabs, are superb…..

…..The 2.3HOT engine develops a blistering 191kW at 5200rpm and 350Nm between 1800rpm and 5200rpm, so the figures are lineball with a free-revving V6…..

…..Given that all the 191kW goes through the front wheels, we were expecting some serious torque steer under hard acceleration but Saab has managed to tame any wayward behaviour…..

…..The 2.3HOT is no slouch….

Now, I’d like to remind you at this point that the 9-5 is a car that this guy thinks no-one except a hard-core Saabophile could warm to.

Imagine how glowingly he’d be writing if he really, really liked it.

So what’s missing?

  • The ‘compressed speedo’
  • Side curtain airbags (fair enough)
  • "the rear-luggage door. Many rivals now offer pressure-pad releases where the 9-5 Aero SportsEstate has a latch."  I hope he’s not serious about that one.
  • AWD – depends on taste
  • V6 – On balance, I think this is a mistake too.
  • Some minor fit-n-finish niggles

In all honesty, it’s hard to be critical of this review.  It just struck PT, and myself, as being rather strange.  Almost as if he felt compelled to dislike it at the end.

Strange days indeed. 

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  1. Regarding “Confused 9-5 Review”
    you have to understand how journalists think. i’ve been one as a night job for the past 9 years (music, not cars)and try not to conduct myself this way, but it’s a point of pride for many scribblers to find at least one thing to be snotty about. In other words if you can’t find at least one thing to slam about the book, concert, restaurant, car or whatever, you’re not doing your job. Seldom will you read any review that is 100% glowing. Otherwise, other journalists will accuse you of writing with a candy cane.
    doug hill norman, ok./ grand blanc, mi.

  2. The radio issue has been brought up many times on here, but I used it yesterday.

    I had a rental car- Chevy HHR. The radio unit is exactly the unit in the Saab 9-5. Sorry, but it’s cheap. If Saab wants to compete in the mid-luxury market, then they need something better than a radio that seems to be designed in the early 90’s. It’s small stuff like this that defines a car for some people.

  3. For Dan…

    Admittedly the radio controls are very similiar on the HHR and the ’06 9-5, but the actual radios are worlds apart. The HK unit in the 9-5 has been compared equally to the much more expensive Mark Levinson unit in the Lexus line of Toyota in the U. S. (Both are under the same Harmon Kardon umbrella, and Mercedes has now repalced its Bose units with HK.)

    I agree with you that it is a shame that GM can’t provide further differentiation for the upscale 9-5.

    I’ve test driven an ’06 9-5, and the radio control tactile sensation leaves a lot to be desired.

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