A cautionary note

As with the 9-5 refresh that came last year, there’s some divided thinking beginning to emerge about the pictures of the MY2008 Saab 9-3 that we’ve seen so far. This is fair enough – everyone’s tastes are different and the comment section is there for opinions to be properly expressed. Personally, I think it looks fantastic and bear in mind, these are just test mules that we’re seeing.

So….. if you cast your mind back a bit to when the refreshed 9-5 was coming, you may remember that one of the first pictures we saw was this:


I’ll be the first to say that it didn’t really light my fire.

But remember, these are test mules, and what we ended up with some time shortly thereafter was this:


And regardless of which side of the fence you sit with regards to the current 9-5, that looks a heck of a lot better, wouldn’t you say?

The point is, these are test vehicles only that we’re seeing and they aren’t done up to final production spec.

The 9-3 pictures that have emerged make for a much more promising start than that first 9-5 picture IMHO.

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  1. Funny Swade as I read the comments I started thinking about how the Saab community reacted when first pics of the 2006 9-5 were seen on the web, and how different the production version was to the spy shots.

    But in fairness Saab probably spent less on the 9-5 refresh than it has for the current 9-3 refresh, bearing in mind that the 9-3 is Saab’s bread & butter in terms of sales volumes and competition with other brands, and that this interim refresh (MCE) has to last longer to 2009/10 than the ’06 refresh of the 9-5.

    All in all, I’m sure the majority in the Saab community will embrace the final design. But puhleeez people, no more whining about the loss of the stroker engine, OK ? 😉

  2. Also, the first artists’ renderings we saw of the Aero-X were pretty hideous. The final result is a thing of beauty.

    I’m thinking these test mules are “beaters” mostly for testing suspension and drivetrain so there is probably very little in the way of aesthetics being worried-about at this point.

  3. Spot on, Swade.

    Just the other day I read a bunch of comments on TS regarding the Aero X when it first came out and the only available pic was from the front. Look up those comments and see how many didn’t like it.

    Now look. 🙂

  4. I don’t see anything wrong with being critical of spy photos and test mules. To a certain extent, I think we are seeing these “spy” photos because SAAB wants us to. If they really wanted to hide it from us, it would be covered in cardboard and plastic. Perhaps we are just a world-wide focus group for them without the cost of providing us refreshments and stipends 🙂

  5. I hate to say it, but I like the white 9-5 without the bluriness. Everyone should know, I love simple good looking rims. PLus, they’re much easier to clean… Form AND functionality…

  6. I liked the white 9-5 more also. It looked better with a “wide screen” grill with the “airplane” Saab symbol in the middle. Just a better design all together. ESPECIALLY in the bottom spoiler and foglight housing with the white strip. Makes the car look sportier and more premium. The wheels were a little nicer too. I hated the Blacked out front lights of the production version.
    Didnt like the production 9-5 as much.(though i still like it more than the German/Japanese alternatives)

  7. Sorry to be the odd-one-out here but I still think the 9-5 is, how do I put this politely, butt-ugly. Any resemblance to a Saab is purely coincidental, IMHO!

    As for the Aero-X, dont get me started!

    *runs off and hides in the corner*

  8. I don’t care for either of those 9-5’s. I can’t see how the production 9-5 looks “a heck of a lot better”. They both look extremely similar to me. Maybe SAAB is spending a lot more resources on this refresh as suggested, but if those two pictures can at all serve as indicators as to how different we can expect production models to be from test mules, then it seems that the production 9-3 will be nearly identical to what we have seen.

    I find it interesting that the aero-X gets so much praise in the forums nowadays. I am pretty sure that when actual photos first surfaced, about half loved it and half hated it. I guess all those who hated it have left us.

    Really, there are only 4 things I dislike about the current 9-3. The headlamps (they do look totally weird from the side, but it seems the refresh will remedy this), the seats of the aero models, the lack of a coupe/3dr variant, and no hatchback.

  9. have to agree with zippy that both the 9-5’s look very similar with most of the difference coming from the slightly different perspective of the photos. i have been enjoying your website and the info from the saab meeting in california chronicled below but shouldn’t the management at saab be hard at work on a real 9-5 redesign which is way way overdue instead of organizing that meeting driving a bunch of old saabs for kicks? as the sales of 9-5’s has gone down and down saab is losing a lot of their customer base for that model but i get no sense of urgency from the plans outlined by saab.

  10. Whoo, thanks to me for founding the “White Crew” and thanks to Richo for recognizing us. Ronald, Richo, and possibly Zippy, Welcome!

    Our next goal as a ‘crew’ is to convince sethsev7n that it does NOT look like a hyundai, but is indeed a beauty covered by a small bit of blurriness.

  11. I’m in Seth’s corner re: white vs production. Kia, Hyundai, name your pick.

    But I’m going to call myself Swadeboy so I can get an ear in on the mumblings of the ‘whitecrew’ founder when they meet….

  12. tturboboy, I apparently did a poor job of explaining the event I attended last week. It was a promotional event put on by SAAB USA (not SAAB International) for the press. It was a celebration of SAAB’s Diamond Jubilee (60th Anniversary). The money spent came from SAAB USA’s marketing budget, I’m sure.

    As for the 9-5 refresh, we just got one two years ago! They’re planning to have the new 9-5 out in two more years. They can’t really do a refresh each year!

  13. I guess I’m biased because I have a ’06 9-5 but I agree with Ronald, I think it looks better in person. I’m not sure why some people don’t think it looks like a Saab. Despite the front and rear refresh, the body lines haven’t changed much in 8 or 9 years.

    BTW, I think the new 9-3 photos look VERY promising so maybe I’m in the minority?

  14. Welcome Swadeboy! unfortunately, tturboboy hasn’t yet accepted my invitation.

    The good news: you’re the first joining member! The bad news: no real mumblings to listen to just yet.

  15. The 9-5 mule is without the Dame Edna glasses, for me that is enough said…

    For me the 9-3 facelift as it looks on the spyshots is not all that bad. But it smells quite a lot of changes for the sake of change, the purpose seems to have gone awol.

    In my opinion the 9-3SS/SC did not need dramatic restyling, what it really needs is major improvement on component quality and refinement.

  16. Maybe it’s the young blood in me, or stupidity, but I believe that there needs to be more then just looks to this refresh…. If the car looks like that (which I don’t see as a negative…. nor an amazing masterpiece) AND HAS AWD/XWD and a competitive engine.. I’ll have no problem buying it.

    Hell, until recently the Italians have gotten away while fugly designs because they perform in the arena

    my .02 USD

  17. “They can’t really do a refresh each year!”

    That’s what i liked a few years ago about saab: long and very slow changing modelswitches – and i hope saab contiuous this tradition a little. In the motoring industrie spectrum saab is at the completetely opposite point than hyundai, toyota and the likes. Where the corolla changes more in a year than a saab might do in 10 years. Apart from the more than neccessary updates in terms of build quality, motoring power and efficiency etc., what was designwise important to me: a formal shape started in the late ’60 s 99-model wich lasted till the ’93 900 turbo S. Wow that’s nearly 25 years. Except from nice but odd examples like a lotus super sevens or vw beetles, this long lasting design streching has is only equivalent in the citroen ds/id and the citroen cx’s.
    I don’t care what background is responsible for these long lasting and slowly changing model-cyclus, even if it has to do with a shortage of money to develop something completely new. And yes i disliked the 9000 compared with the fluid and elegant 900 back then when i was a teenager, the 95 when it first appeared didn’t give me any sense of excitement either. Coming closer towards the end of it’s cyclus, the 95 with it’s rather agressive front styling screamed at me: buy me, drive me, love me … And if saab brings out in a few years an ultimative 75years anniversary-edition, specced with XWD and BioPower (when available at the gas-station, of course) , i would consider a second one. Certainly only when i’m not tempted by the hyundai-camry-whateverlooking cars that scream at me: look at me, drive me, use my 10-year warranty…

  18. I can agree on that.. everyone I know who owns an SS or that has driven or ridden in one has mentioned something about the cheap interior quality. I think they should have allocated resources to fixing that rather than a restyle, but I’m not complaining either. Hopefully the next gen 9-3 will have a much better interior.

  19. That being said, ever consider that they may intentionally be driving these things on public roads so that pictures get leaked, and they can read the blogs to see what people think of them? Lending our opinions in the blogs may be a good thing 🙂

    That being said I think the current gen 9-5 is hideous. The pics weve seen thus far of the 9-3 facelift don’t excite me (in fact I think the front grille bulge looks a little awkward) but I don’t hate it, like I don’t the current 9-5.

  20. i would be honored to join you swadeboy in our exclusive club for as you know us boys TELL IT LIKE IT IS. i know about the cosmetic refreshes of the 9-5 but what is needed is a truly new 9-5.

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