Saab Vs Saab

This is a MUST READ for anyone considering the purchase of a new 9-5.

SaabScott, the President (or is it former President?) of the Saab Owners Club of Canada has recently finished a two-week stint with a 2007 Saab 9-5 SportCombi.

Scott’s a 9-5 owner already, having a 1999 model in the garage, so when he emailed me to let me know about the article I was most curious to read about his experience, and what he thought of the latest 9-5.

Having driven it myself a few times in the last 8 months or so, I know that this is one great car. The divisive point is the new look, but there’s little doubt about the quality of the car once you get behind the wheel.

It’s that very first tactile impression, the one where you sit inside the car, that Scott deals with first:

While getting used to the seats took a little bit of time, realizing just how good they were took no time. The side bolstering and range of movement will allow just about everyone to find a position that will be as comfortable as they could possibly want. This car was also equipped with the memory function and 3 buttons. More importantly though, was the fact that the memory was also tied to the side mirrors! Nice touch Saab……

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The interior layout is functionally identical to the original model. There is not a single feature that has been left out. In fact, it is quite the opposite. There are a number of new features and what carried over from the 1999 have been simplified and made more intuitive.

The Night Panel button has been moved due to the fact that the SID has been incorporated into the instrument cluster. Once you have spent time behind the wheel, you realize that the placement of the button is actually better than before …

Whilst I’m not a big fan of the alterations made to the climate control system (i.e. going from buttons to knobs) there is little doubt that the 9-5 is a classical Saab design. Age has its benefits, and one of those benefits as far as the 9-5 is concerned is that the dash area has been refined and improved overall as the years have progressed.

I have heard a lot of comments (good and bad) about the interior materials. I found everything to be quite satisfactory. When the brushed aluminium came out a couple of years ago, I didn’t really care for it. However, the treatment that Saab has used is quite easy on the eyes and blends in very well. The door materials are tasteful and not cheap and are easy to clean up (important in a climate such as ours). The doors still have that “thunk” when you close them and seal you into a very quite and comfortable cabin.

There’s a LOT of interior discussion in this review, which I think is great. It’s the place where you actually spend most of your time so it has to be good. Scott’s done a really thorough job assessing the interior in a practical way and from a Saab point of view.

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But he does manage to take it for a run, too.

The engine mated with the 5 speed automatic transmission is great for driving in just about any situation. Throw it into gear and go. Passing on the highway is a breeze … put your right foot down and either or both the turbo and transmission respond almost instantly…..

….With all of this power available, the handling has to be up to par and there is no disappointment there either. This car is glued to the road … in all weather conditions. Let’s cover the dry first. You point the car where you want it to go and it goes. There is very little body roll and not once did I ever push the car anywhere close to its traction limits. And for a car of its size and weight, it feels very “toss able”. In the wet and snow, this car lives up to the fact that it was designed and built in Sweden. Even with the standard “all-season” tires on it, the car gripped well. Driving across the 401 in the midst of a blizzard with very high cross winds caused no concern. The car tracked true, even through the snow between the lanes. At no time did I ever feel that the car was at all loose on the road. As a matter of fact, the steering is one of the big improvements over my car … it is very tight and direct and turn in is immediate!

I’m deliberately limiting the amount of content I publish from this review as it’s well and truly deserving of your attention at the source. This is a very thorough piece.

Whatever you think about the way the new 9-5 looks (and I think most people have become OK with it now, except you Zippy 😉 there’s little room for doubt about the way it drives.

This is one great Saab.

Click here to read the full review. As mentioned it’s something I’d consider a must-read for anyone familiar with the 9-5’s heritage and contemplating a return to owning one.

Thanks Scott.

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10 Comments

  1. Unfortunately, I have to disagree with this review – I own 9-5 Estate Aero model(2000) and 2007 Vector 9-3 SS. I have been waiting for the new 9-5 (new! not facelifted) for 2 years and finally 2 months ago I have decided to purchase new large family car. The first option for me was the 9-5. I have tried the new 95 Aero for 1 week – 1200 kms (I have been driving for 1 week also new V70, A6 and BMW5) the outcome of this 1 week experience is bad for the new facelifted 9-5 in comparison with the old model and other cars. Exterior of the car does look strange to me – new modern parts on old design and it is much more visible inside – mixture of old and new elements?
    It is great car, safe, comfortable but obviously there are better cars at this moment. I am big fan of Saab (I already owned 4 of them) but I am not going to buy a car only because it is Saab – so my choice is different this time.

  2. Dear Rayman 146,
    Actually this is the car that I have finally chosen -as Saab fan I was afraid that I have lost my “ability” to be critical to Saab so I asked my 3 children to help me to choose among these 4 cars (I have developed quite sofisticated desicion system :o)) and the new V70 was the winner (the car will be delivered in 5 weeks)

  3. Peter said, “Exterior of the car does look strange to me….”.

    And thats being polite about it!

    What they should have done is kept the original face and rump on the 05 9-5 and introduced the better driving dynamics of the “Dame Edna” version.

  4. Whilst I think the 9-5 is a great car and the 401 performance can also be held true for my 9-3 combi the interior opinion of mine is different. I have been in 3 GM cars over the last 3 months, rentals, loaners and family. ALL HAVE THE SAME HVAC and AUDIO SYSTEMS, the cost cutting of GM takes away from the “uniqueness” of the brand. Will I buy another SAAB? Hmm…3years from now will tell when I am due BUT if there is more common GM componentry in my face 24-7 then Mazda 6 and Audi and VW look to be good options!

  5. Brian, what do you see as the bigger issue – part sharing or the visible GM components?

    VW share a lot of visible components across their brands (column stalks, light switches, radios – the Skoda Superb is a rebadged Passat) and Mazdas are pretty much rebodied Ford / Volvos here in Europe (the old 121 was just a rebadged Ford).

    To get away from shared components you need to buy either a Mercedes (and Chrysler use their running gear), Honda or a BMW.

    SAAB were maybe too obvious in part sharing but you are not going to get away from cost cutting part sharing no matter where you go to.

  6. “I have been in 3 GM cars over the last 3 months, rentals, loaners and family. ALL HAVE THE SAME HVAC and AUDIO SYSTEMS, the cost cutting of GM takes away from the “uniqueness” of the brand.”

    I know that the “bowtie” radio is used in other GM cars, but I thought that the European Cadillac BLS was the only other GM car that used the same HVAC system controls? What cars were you driving that used the same HVAC? In looking at GM’s website the only similarity I see is the fact that the knobs are round.

    Owning an ’06 9-5 I’ll just add that the bowtie radio is an excellent, easy to use, great sounding unit that includes an abundance of new features that the 9-5 was previously lacking such as an internal 6 cd changer, an AUX-In port, the ability to store AM,FM and XM presets right next to each other, better equalization controls, etc. Would people really rather have the circa ’98 single cd, bubble button radio with less features?

    The ACC controls are also very much simplified and easy to use while driving without removing your eyes from the road.

  7. Dear Peter,

    I guess it was the best you can get, when it comes to family-cars. I still like the 9-5 ans lately sold Bio-Power, but to be honest – without this E85, the good ol’ 9-5 is a no go. Every customer in this price-range compared 3 or 4 brands before making a decision and if Saab is the 3rd car after reviewing an new V70 or A6, there are few arguments left for it… sad enough !

  8. I have to take issue with Swade’s criticism of the move from buttons to dials on the climate controls.

    The one thing about my 9-5 that annoys me are the climate control buttons. There’s no easy way to move to “max cool” or “max heat” — you have to push the buttons multiple times to get the ACC to read “LO” or “HI”

    Nothing is more distracting while driving than having to look down to push a button 10 times in order to crank up the A/C.

    This process is easier and way more intuitive with dials, in one motion you turn the dial all the way over to cool or hot.

  9. I love the new 9-5, always have done ever since it first appeared. I like the look of the outside and the controls of the inside. I was very fond of the improved dials for the radio and heater. If I could afford one I’d happily have one on my drive. I’m glad I can praise Saab, but thats me.

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