Another call for the 9-5 – send it off with a bang!

My thanks to Gregg for letting me know about this.

Apparently Motor Trend’s annual car guide is a must-get issue. It covers all the current and new releases for the coming year. A sort of one-stop brochure for the whole automotive industry.

Gregg’s just got his copy in the mail and written to me about the Saab entries. The 9-3 entry is a pretty nice read and they’re quite bullish on the new 2008 model.

But it’s the 9-5 entry that’s the reason for this post:

*SAAB 9-5*
WHAT’S NEW: Compared with the restyled 9-3, the 9-5 sedan and wagon are as exciting as old cheese. The aging model has a few new features, such as OnStar safety and security system, rain-sensing windshied wipers and leather-appointed sport seats. However, the question remains: Does anyone care? We hope next year will be a desperately needed revamp.

AVOID: Cool when first introduced, the 9-5 is too long in the tooth to elicit any desire.

SUM UP: HOW CAN WE MISS IT IF IT WON’T GO AWAY?
(2 Star rating of a possible 5)

Once again, the press don’t care that it’s still a great drive. They don’t care that age means the bugs are all ironed out. They don’t car that it’s still one of the safest cars on the road. What they care about is that it ain’t new or outstanding in their sight.

I wrote a memo to Saab a short while ago. In that memo I implored Saab to consider emptying the parts bin on the 9-5 in its twilight years like they’ve done with other outgoing models. They make such a huge margin per vehicle that it’s got to be financially viable. What’s more, it’ll create some interest and collectability.

Perhaps it’ll even get some old Saabers back in the fold. You know, the ones who had a 9-5 in the past and replaced it with one of those new-fangled Japanese whizzboxes.

What on earth have they got to lose from making the 9-5 notable and more desirable in it’s final years? You probably won’t make much of an impression on the guys from Motor Trend, but I’ll bet you make an impression on your customers.

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13 Comments

  1. My dealer was in Sweden recently and he was flabbergasted by what he saw of the new 9-5. Nothing to do with the weird things circulating on the net. I should know more later as we are invited for a swim at his place this afternoon.
    In the meantime, the old cheese 9-5 still offers more than many of the recent cheesy offerings…

  2. The fact is that we are living in the age of the “disposable” tech goodies.
    The marketing of the profit hunting tries to brainwash us that we need new mobile phones in every year, new hi-fi and tv set in every 3 years and new cars in every 4 years.
    Even a product is good and well-tried if it’s older the media will scarify it to induce us to “buy new, buy new, buy new”.
    It’s a terrible wastage but this will make money for the brands and that is whay their products are designed for those short lifetimes… 🙁
    However, generally most of the changes in new models (in all kind of tech goodies) are not essential, they hardly increase the functionality dramatically, they are mostly cosmetic and comfort changes.
    Brave new world…

  3. I would agree that a “Special Edition” of sorts or a “Black Turbo” version of the 9-5 would surely catch some attention and help clean out some of the old models before the new 9-5 comes out.

    Plus it would raise some brand awareness, too.

  4. This just goes to show that you don’t need to know anything about cars in order to write for a car magazine (or newspaper).
    The review sounds like some snot-nosed kid complaining that the Mona Lisa is “old.”

    I’m sure the same reviewer loves the “new” Camry, which is possibly the worst driving car that money can buy, after the “newish” Maxima.

  5. I wonder which of the attributes of the 9-5 should be considered old fashioned? The 5 star safety rating? Maybe the seats are too comfortable? The balance of power and fuel economy in the aero engine?

    Airbag counting competitions and comparisons of blue tooth connectivity aren’t the real issues. I even read one review that complained about the boot/trunk having a latch release and not a pressure pad. Who cares?

    Although I prefer the pre 2006 design the freshened design does look good in black with black leather. And all the improvement to the chassis surely make a good car even better.

  6. Swade is right– send the model off with a Viking Funeral. Note to Saab– and I hope you’re reading this– the buff books that shape consumer opinion have deserted the 9-5 (despite years of refinement and a superlative improvement in suspension damping for this supposedly “aging” chassis in MY2007), so few new customers will be willing to take a look at this car. There are enough Saab fans, collectors (the 60 Years Anniversary editions sold well, and that was merely a snazzy paint job, new wheels and some badges) and 9-5 enthusiasts to consider dropping the price a tad and pulling out the stops by adding on the cool bits and performance upgrades from the likes of Abbott, Hirsch, etc.

    Alternate to that (in North America anyways), use the 9-5 as a low-volume bellwether to gauge public reaction to things like performance diesels and Bio-Power (which should go over HUGE with Saab’s core demographic in the US and Canada). This is a golden opportunity for Saab to gain market insight, make new fans, and bring some old friends back to the showrooms. Like Swade says, this car should go out with a bang and not a whimper. Please Saab– make it happen.

  7. Talked to my dealer yesterday. He confirms that what he saw of the new 9-5 is first class. Nothing to do with the images circulating on the Web. Perhaps not as sporty as the outgoing 9-5 but very classy. A car to tackle the A6. That’s music to my ears, specially with XWD available,on which my dealer concurs with Swade that’s is top notch. Sabb will also get a two year exclusive on it. What struck him most was the new wagon. He describes it as very audacious, with the hatch opening going very far into the roof. As for the 9-4X, his comments were less enthusiastic. Not bad but not ground breaking. A little of everything already on the market, sized between a BMW X3 and X5. And yes, it will be assembled in Mexico, as is the new Opel Antara-based Saturn Vue. Not necessarily a bad thing for quality as GM Mexico plants are ranked amongst the best in North America. Could be a little hard on the image side though. Just hope all Saabs will soon be offered with plug-in bio diesel options.

  8. This somewhat rhymes with what we heard. The new 9-5 gonna be special, and probably gonna take some time to get used to. The 9-4X has been said to be really good looking, and usually a good-looking car is not ground breaking but plays on the trends that buyers are familiar with today.

    The 9-4X beeing built in Mexico could generate some bad press, but I don’t see a problem with it. VW builds car there and have great quality.

  9. I just came back from Vermont in my ’07 Jet Black/Black 60th Anniversary Combi. It has to be one of the best kept secrets in North America. The Turbo pulls like a 911 and it is comfortable and safe to boot. So what if it doesn’ t have as many cup holders as a Camry or Tahoe? Who cares what Motor Trend thinks – this Saab dares to be different and for me, even recalls the excitement of the 99 Turbo – remember, that was an ancient design, too, when it bowed.

  10. As a multiple Saab owner (including 2 9-5’s) I must say I agree with Motor trend. I now drive an Infiniti M35x, which is light years ahead in every respect. I still keep a 2002 9-3 and have great affection for Saabs, but will not consider another as my primary driver until they catch up.

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