Saab might be in for a bit of a revolution in New Zealand, if this reviewer’s opinion of the new 9-5 is anything to go by. Saab sold only about 150 cars in NZ in 2005, but this is the second NZ Saab review I’ve read in a month (the other was a SportCombi review) and both have been glowingly positive.
This one’s on an NZ website called stuff.co.nz, written by Dave Moore. Some relevant bits n pieces.
Whilst a whole bunch of other journos complain that the 9-5 shows its age at almost every turn, Moore doesn’t see it the same way.
This month, following the re- launch of its smaller 9-3, complete with its sexy Sportcombi five-door variant, Saab has given its oldest model, the 9-5, a going-over that’s so effective it’s hard to believe it has been around for the thick end of a decade.
It’s a case of love it or hate it styling, I guess. But the other guys find the drive experience shows it’s age as well. Not so with Dave….
As part of the 9-5’s re-fettle, Saab adjusted all major suspension parts to reduced body movement and improve responsiveness. The car’s front assembly is also 40 per cent stiffer than the previous model’s and the net result of the work meted out on the car’s underpinnings is a compelling blend of comfort and incisiveness.
Understeer is less dominant than before, especially with the Aero, which is 10mm lower slung than the Linear and Vector models. This most powerful of 9-5s is much more comfortable in terms of ride quality than before and appears to put its 191kW down very effectively. There’s a touch of torque steer, but it’s well contained.
There’s not a trace of such influence in my favourite, the entry- point Linear. Its power delivery is refreshingly even-handed, with a torque spread that means it requires little throttle to extract meaningful day to day performance.
Day-to-day performance? What, no cones on a test track? Dave’s obviously not doing his job!
The Saab line-up deserves a fair go in New Zealand, and while the recently revised 9-3 and now 9-5 ranges are encouraging moves in the right direction, a strong and consistent marketing thrust will be needed to back those moves up and gain the brand the sales it deserves. The cars are good enough. All they need are customers. Simple really.
The other interesting thing that’s been on the grapevine for a little while now is the mention of diesels for the Australia and New Zealand markets. And this is from the horse’s mouth:
There’s little doubt that [new Saab Oz head honcho] Batish can do the job, as under his marketing and sales regime, Saab moved from a 14,500 unit performer on the British market in 2002 to a brand selling 40,000 cars there by 2004. New products, fresh diesel power units and dual-fuel models have all helped in Britain, and it has been confirmed by Batish that diesel will eventually feature in New Zealand and Australia to help push the brand along.
Bring ’em on, Parveen!