Future Saab 9-5: have you say – manual gearboxes

You might find this surprising, but an employee at SaabUSA recently told me that they hadn’t considered Bluetooth as big an issue as what we’ve discovered it to be here at TS, primarily because few people have talked to them about it. And he’s right.

The round table discussion at the recent Saab Owners Convention was dominated by talk about diesel, the demise of analog Onstar and the state of the dealership network. Gripen went in there armed with the Bluetooth question but didn’t get time to ask it in that forum, but no-one else asked it either.

So, in the interests of getting the discussion out there – there’s still some people at Saab reading these pages – I thought it’d be good to raise an issue that was sent in to me via email by Ronald in the US.

Ronald did some fishing around, and discovered that in the Saab 9-5’s intended class, there’s very few cars that are offered with a manual gearbox as an option.

The current 9-5 does come with a 5-speed sentronic gearbox or a 5-speed manual gearbox depending on the market. That’ll go up to at least six speeds in the next incarnation of the 9-5, maybe even seven for an auto.

The question is: should the next Saab 9-5 still be offered with a manual gearbox option?

——

I’ve always driven manual cars. I love ’em. The manual shift just makes me feel more a part of the driving experience. I’ve never driven a flappy paddle system that’s good enough to make me want one and the modern autos with a +/- shifter option just don’t do it for me either. Give me manual gear selection any day.

Having said that, I have a 10 minute drive to work everyday, so even if I’m driving my own car (we generally take the 9000, which is an auto) I’m not in it and moving that clutch pedal for too long anyway. I can understand that on a long commute, operating the manual could get a little tedious.

But for me, it’s all part of the driving experience I’d suggest that Saab continue to offer their customers the choice.

Comments are open. What do you think?

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65 Comments

  1. Manual should most definitely be an option for all Saabs. Perhaps even all cars, but that’s a lot to ask.

    Where the auto really shines is in stop-and-go traffic. If I commuted a great distance (I don’t commute at all), it would be a handy thing to have.

    I agree with your dislike of the “manual” shift option for the auto transmission — not an acceptable substitute. The shifts are still unpredictable and somewhat clunky, and there is no ‘feel’.

  2. Choice is always best but interestingly Jaguar have dropped the manual gear box for the XF because none of their customers were interested in it.

    I think it is down to the type of car – I would always go for an Auto Merc or Jag but a Saab or BMW would be manual.

  3. My current 06 9-5 is a manual and so was my previous 2002 9-5 and 1999 9-3. In fact every car I have ever owned has been a manual. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I had to speical order the 9-5’s since my dealer will only stock 9-5’s with autos, and he tells me he only has one other new car customer who buys the manual 9-5. If Saab drops the manual form then next 9-5 then my next new car will, sadly, NOT be a Saab.

  4. I agree with Jon, Saab is the type of car that should offer manual, and that’s the type of car I want Saab to continue being. DSG style gearboxes might change my mind, but I’ve never driven one.

  5. Only a DSG would be a reason good enough to drop manuals … or maybe not even a DSG.

    Some people want cupholders, I want a manual.

  6. Ted I have seen a few reviews of DSG and its a love / hate thing with any longterm tests I have seen. I even saw a review where the guy ran a DSG TT and hated it but drove a DSG Leon (basically the same car) and loved it. Weird.

  7. Regarding the market in Germany in my opinion the new 9-5 should have an option for the manual gearbox. Most people here in Germany are using this feature whatever the reasons are.

  8. 9-5 MY07 5-speed-manual is at least one to less (in the 9-5 TiD). Higher speed cruising in 5th gear should be possible at lower rpm’s. So would be nice if they offer a 6-speed-manual.

    Never driven any DSG-or similar, can’t argue on that. Seems to shit quicker than anything else.

    What about the old saab-sentronic principle? I’ve driven once a MB A140 with a semi-automatic similar to the sentronic, you need to change gear with your hands but you do not have to use your feet.

  9. I have never owned an automatic car. And I am coming from the 119 generation Alfa Romeos, to Audi 80, Honda Civic, Hyundai Matrix and lastly Saab (i.e. 9-5).

    No I don’t want and would not ever consider buying and owning a Saab if auto. I have noticed in South Africa the current facelifted version of the 9-5 is only equipped with an auto gearbox and those who prefer manual gearboxes are forced to migrate to the 9-3 sport sedan.

  10. In Europe, automatics are still quite hard to sell, so I’m absolutely sure that here Saabs will be manual by default, with the automatic as an option.

    So, I don’t see no harm or important costs relating to having the manual option on other markets, like in the US: I think Saab should give that option to the customer.

  11. If you want to sell a Saab 9-5 in Europe you need to keep the option of a manual gearbox. It is as simple as that.

    I chose myself the automatic sentronic gearbox and do not regret it. Could even do without the manual shift – on the steering wheel – which I played around with in the beginning but I consider now that it does not add any real value.

  12. If I had my choice, all of my cars would be manual. However, in my house, not everyone knows how to drive a manual. Since we take turns with each other’s cars, I have to default to auto. I would wager that this is not infrequently the case, especially in the U.S.

    I am sure that SAAB will offer a manual for Europe. It probably would not hurt sales if SAAB did not offer a manual in the U.S., but I do hope that SAAB continues to provide choice.

  13. I love a good manual; 3/5 of previous cars were 5-speeds. I flipped a coin with our new ’06 9-5 for manual vs. auto. (Choice of red manual or silver auto @ dealer.)

    Living in Washington DC — home of the 2nd worst traffic in the country — I am very glad the coin came up “AUTO”. My last tank of gas covered 300 miles at an average speed of 12mph. I usually take public transit to work, but was forced to drive the 22 miles in 2x this week because of meetings, etc. The trip each way was 1hr 45min. That’s pretty typical.

    Count me glad that that the auto exists — and furthermore that the seats may very well be the most comfortable in all of automobiledom.

    The character of the 2.3T also seems to lend itself well to the auto — the slushbox seems to smooth over the peaky nature of the Turbo in the murderous cut-n-thrust of DC traffic. I find that when I need to “MOOOVE”, that a stab at the gas squirts forward Lear-jet style with no interruptions for shifts, turbo blow-off, etc.

    If I moved back to the mountains, you can be sure that I would shop for a manual, but I’m glad that a good auto is offered. (Yes, I use the paddles when I can…)

  14. I love driving a manual transmission. I miss that in my current 9-3 convertible. My first SAAB (93 9000 CDE turbo) had an automatic. I asked the salesman at the time if they had one available with a manual and his reply was that he could TRY and find one, but few 9000 CDE turbo’s were so equipped. That being said, the 9000 had the BEST auto I had ever driven. Very rarely did I ever catch it in the wrong gear. Despite that, I really missed shifting for myself. Fast forward to 2003 and a manual transmission was pre-requisite for my 9-3 SS. That linear (US) with 175 hp and manual transmission made for a very entertaining drive. It actually felt faster than my 07 convertible does with 210 hp and an auto.
    This auto is very smooth, but hesitates and seems to need time to think about what gear it should really be in, should it downshift or not, etc. Maybe the sport feature I believe I heard the 08’s have will improve that. I have tried the manual shifting of the auto and it still hesitates in a way my manual did not. It.is just not as fun as a stick and a clutch,
    PLEASE do not do away with a manual in the new 9-5. Auto’s are more boring than a manual and SAAB’s are not boring!

  15. I have owned nine SAABs, going back to 1979. Own three right now. I have always had a manual, never liked SAAB automatics. I did just pick up a new 9-5, its maunual too, but I tried the auto and thought it was great. But I,m just an old shifter, so I’ll stay with the manual tranny. By the way, I’ve taken two extended trips with the new 9-5 and still get over 30 mpg, even with 260 HP and I don’t drag my feet.

  16. Put me down as another “if no manual, then no sale” potential customer. Having said that, I do have to admit that after test driving a VW with DSG, I actually walked away thinking “wow, I think I could actually live with that!” — however, when push came to shove, paying the extra Loonies (or Dollars, same difference these days) for a DSG would probably not happen since I’d be more apt to settle for the “free” manual option. Even my wife agrees that our next car has to be a manual!

  17. Whenever I go car shopping, it’s quite easy: is a manual transmission available? Sadly, many options are eliminated with just that one criterion. I hope Saab still offers this choice in the future.

  18. I have an ’06 Sport with the Automatic and in Sport mode it is a lot of fun to drive and shifts smoother than using the paddle shifters. Also, several of the US auto magazines have said that the 9-5 automatic is a better choice with that engine than the manual. However, if I had bought a 9-3 Aero – I would have insisted on a manual, and the ’02 SE convertible we have is a manual and is a lot of fun to drive.

    Of course, to be perfectly honest – I would rather have BLUETOOTH than the option of the manual tranny on the 9-5

  19. wow. there MUST be a manual gearbox!… im worried the usa models will lose it :(:( that would suck. I think it would def take some of the sportiness out of it.

  20. Automatic transmissions are for people who don’t really appreciate driving. Yes, Saab should have a manual on the NG9-5 and ALL Saab’s should have BlueTooth in this day and age!

  21. My 9-5 is the first autobox I’ve owned. I used to live in So. California where I had a manual BMW for a while and loved it. However, after a few months of driving it in the infamous So. CA traffic my knee was killing me and the “ultimate driving machine” was no fun to drive. When I was forced to get a new car I got the 9-5 with my first auto. That brought back some driving fun and bearble commutes. Hate to say it, but auto is needed for that type of traffic.

    Now I live in the New England countryside and I really miss the manual gearbox. The “S” mode in my 9-5 make it fun, but I would love to have a manual. My commute has little traffic and consists of rural routes with a little highway thrown in as I get closer to the office. We need a choice in the USA and my next SAAB will be a manual.

  22. The problem with robotic gearboxes is the torque: at what torque should the gearbox release the clutch?
    Different situations require different approachs to managing the clutch; just study how you yourself handle the clutch depending on driving situation.
    Atomatic gearboxes don’t have this problem since they’re able to slip between gears without hurting the system.
    In a Ferari/ambo, he robotic boxes are geared towards “sports” and clutch at aggressive toques. There are even two programmes, but both would be too sporty for everyday driving in a Saab.
    This is the exact problem for Alfa and their Selespeed system.
    Would Saab be better off? With 2x the Hp compared to an Alfa with Selespeed? Nopes, quite the contrary

    So unless the robotic gearboxes are geard for always sports or always “leisure”, which would be a touch and bad compromise for a car like Saab (and Alfa), manuals are it. And then of course automatics for the ones driving in the US (loving pun intended)

  23. I have owned autos 9-3 (2003) and 9-5 (2006). With 9-3 auto worked nicely but with this 9-5 there is too much lag, shift is poor quality and sometimes it feels that all the power goes warming auto box oil.

    Still I’ll choose autobox for my next car.

    In future Saab should offer both manual and DSG. I’ve driven DSG and that is as good as it can get. Brilliant box with super fuel economy.

    Another important point: Manual and DSG -versions should be priced equally (as Volvo does in many market areas between manual and auto).

  24. Over the years I have noticed the internet auto forums are full of RWD, manual transmission enthusiasts.

    I have to be honest, I don’t understand the allure of a manual transmission. Watching somebody drive a vehicle with one can be bewildering. It’s like watching someone trying to get a zipper unstuck.

    The DSG is brilliant but I’m not sure VW knows what it has.

  25. Manual is the only way to go. I will have no other way. The reason I decided on MY08 Saab 9-5 aero combi was availability of a 5spd. If that was not an option I would have gone Infinity or Acura.
    Also, I don’t buy BS about traffic. I drove and still driving my Isuzu Rodeo Sport 4wd 5 sp and 96 Honda Prelude n the worst traffics in the nation: DC, San Diego, Atlanta, Houston. I will take 5 spd any time of a day. It gives me a quicker start and more control, if there is a gap and in the next lane and I am driving a stick guess what you will be eating my bumper. It is all about acceleration and control. I drove auto in Korea for a year and regretted it every day. If anyone been to Korea, you know how bad traffic gets around Seoul and on interstate 1.

  26. A manual gearbox is a must if they are going to continue to market SAAB as a sports sedan. To be taken seriously in Europe, its a must have.

  27. Slushboxes are starting to get interesting. Manuals are still the preference of both my wife’s (she’s got the 9-5) and myself but some automagic transmissions are getting better performance and better gas mileage. Case in point, the 911 Turbo (M:3.7sec 0-60 A:3.4sec 0-60) and the VW Beetle respectively (M: 31MPG HWY, A: 32 MPG HWY). I really like the 6-sp stick in my 9-3 SC, and I think the 9-5’s 2.3T would be a bit more flexable with a 6-sp stick as well.

  28. Well, I’ve just cut-and-pasted this from Swade’s favorite US-based Saab site. I wrote this just this week. The short story is… I wouldn’t buy a car with an automatic. So, are you listening Saab? (I don’t have a single bluetooth compatible thing in my life, so that’s not an issue.)

    My take on manuals from TSN:
    “I won’t argue that modern autos have come a long ways, and I’ll admit that I haven’t driven a new Saab with an auto either. Both my brothers have VAG cars with autos, a Jetta Wagon w/ 1.8t, and an ’05 A4. Both are fun to drive. Autos keep getting better and better. Locking torque converters, adaptive shifting based upon drivers’ heavy-footedness (or lack thereof, of course), and increasing numbers of cogs all have helped close the gap.

    “Now, what about those with no torque converter, like Audi’s dual clutch, BMW’s SMG (soon to go dual clutch too) and Porsche’s Tiptronic? (I drove my neighbor’s ’07 Carrera equipped with Tiptronic a couple weeks ago… very cool.) From a pure performance stand point, it’s hard to argue with millisecond shifts!

    “However, can I even try to nail that perfect 3-2 double-clutch downshift going into that 30 MPH corner when I get a hankerin’ to do so?…No. Can an Audi DSG/BMW SMG/P. Tiptronic/You-name-it do it better or more consistently than I can?… Yes.

    “Now, can Steve Nash hit free throws or jumpers better and more consistently than I can? Absolutely! But, that doesn’t mean I’m going to replace my hoop-shootin’ with seat-time watching him do it.

    “And please, don’t go harshin’ on my gig here. I realize that the analogy is far from perfect. The point is this: I find deep satisfaction in learning and practicing my skills. One of those happens to be the process of changing gears in a car. From my perspective, great enjoyment can be had in such a small thing as shifting.

    95% of the time, I would not miss a stick, but I never wish for an auto. I do have the luxury of living somewhere which does not have traffic. I don’t drink coffee on my way to work (I ride my mountain bike more often than I drive). Every road to or from my humble little town is more windy than it is straight. So, driving a stick shift is not a chore in my book… but a pleasure.”

  29. Definitely should keep the manual. In the US, it gives Saabs the image of ‘fun to drive’ sporty cars, and helps Saab differentiate itself a bit from the competition. In Europe, many people won’t buy anything but a manual (you’re required to take your test on a manual if you want a full license). Even the large, not so sporty, Mercedes E-class in Europe offers a manual as an option.

  30. Although a manual is fun to drive, the state of the art autobox just doesn’t make it necessary anymore. I think the auto in the new 9-5 is a perfect example of being able to do anything the manual can do and still get the exact same mileage. Here in California, the commutes will kill you if you have a manual xmission, and you have to be masochistic to drive a manual in San Francisco. I have had about 14 cars over the years, both manual and auto and now that I am older than dirt, I will stick with the auto. With that said I hope they still offer the manual as an option. Maybe that is what they ought to do, make th atuo standard and the manual as an option.

  31. Saab should offer a manual transmission in the next 9-5 in North America simply because almost every manual 9-5 sale will be a conquest sale.
    Let’s face it, there is a large (surely double-digit) percentage of the sports-sedan market that will only buy a manual. If Saab doesn’t have anything for them, they will go somewhere else.

  32. A manual gearbox is still a very a viable option to have on a vehicle. I am surprised how many people have asked if I got a manual on my 9-3 – Saab is well known for offering the ‘row-it-yourself’ option.

    Driving a manual has definitely become a lost art though. I find it humorous how so many students come through my classes that have never even been in a manual gearbox vehicle.

    With that said – I love my six speed auto. The new clutch to clutch (no bands/drums) strategy in automatics is simplistic and makes them compact and efficient. The manu-matic option with paddle shifters on the 9-3 is a curious feature but can be kind of fun for downshifting into a turn etc. Upshifting in drag race mode is best left to the computer as there seems to be a bit of delay on the 1-2 shift under wide open throttle. Timing is everything there and the computer times it perfectly…

  33. Saab should NOT offer a manual… out of necessity.
    No, they should offer a manual out of PREFERENCE and RESPECT for their customers.
    To do away with the manual is to do away with any sort of “sport-anything” image. It will instantaneously turn the car into your mother’s station wagon (or even, dare I say, the Jeep Wagoneer-like XC90?).
    Is the manual necessary for sales? Absolutely not. Is it necessary for sales to your loyal and “saab-y” customers? Absolutely.

  34. i agree with you 100%. Manual allows for the driver to be more closely connected with the car, giving an enhanced driving experience. This is the feeling you should have every time you get in a drive.

  35. If any car should have some sort of high-tech traditional-manual-with-an-auto-mode, the new Saab 9-5 should be it.

    Who the heck came up with that idea?! It was someone on here.

  36. ANY IDIOT CAN DRIVE AN AUTO(not saying that only idiots dirve them). MANUAL IS A THINKING MAN’S CAR. I HAVE LOOKED FORWARD TO THE NEXT 9-5 FOR SOME TIME NOW. WHILE EVERYONE WAS GETTING EXCITED ABOUT THE NEW 9-3, MY EXCITEMENT WAS FUELED MORE THAT SAAB WOULD GET THE 9-5 RIGHT. THIS WOULD BE THE DEAL BREAKER FOR ME. I ONLY DRIVE MANUAL TRANNIES. IT IS MY CONNECTION TO MY CAR.
    LET’S TALK COMPROMISE: KILL THE STICK IN THE NON-AERO MODEL ONLY. THERE’S NO WAY THAT THE AERO SHOULD NOT HAVE THIS AS THE STANDARD(pun not intended) OPTION.
    I WANT THE BLUETOOTH BUT, CAN LIVE WITHOUT IT. I WANT HARMAN KARDON BUT, CAN LIVE W/OUT IT. BUT, NO STICK???? ARE YOU GUYS CRAZY????

    NO STICK NO SALE! YOU WILL LOSE THIS CUSTOMER. WOW I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS EVEN A CONSIDERATION…

    SAAB…. JUST SAY NO… TO THAT IDEA….PLEASE… PLEASE… PLEASE…

    OK AT LEAST MAKE ONE AND SEND IT TO TAMPA, FLORIDA 🙂

  37. To all those fans of manual gearboxes:
    Are you still using a crank to start your engine?
    Are you still using a lever on your steering wheel to correct the mixture and the ignition timing?
    A gearbox is necessary because of the imperfections of the internal combustion engine. You can’t do without a gearbox. But who said you should choose the gears. It is distracting you from traffic and causes thereby an unnecessary risk.
    Engines are getting stronger every year. Torque rises with them and thus the need for stronger clutches and those stronger clutches are heavier on your foot. There is a story about players in a british soccer team who were plagued by knee injuries and nobody knew why. Until the team doctor saw the vehicles they drove in (sports cars). He ordered them to use automatics and the problems were gone.
    Ten years ago, mercedes-benz brought the selfshifters in the heavy trucks. All truck drivers laughed about them. Nowadays they all want those gearboxes.
    Modern vehicles, especially those with direct injection diesel engines need more gears because of the small usable torque area. Do you raslly want to shift 7 or 8 gears manually?
    So the future is to the automatic gearbox. But it does not necessarely has to be the planetary one with the torque converter!

  38. Mainly for cost reasons there needs to be manual available. Cars are very expensive in some countries and you need to strip away “standard” features a lot.

    Then there are those who dont want to have dual clutch even for same price. Reasons being such as “what if car looses voltage” or “I want to change gears while car is not running”

  39. You know, driving a manual does NOT make you more of a man. I drive a stick now, have for over 10 years, and sure it’s great, but I hit a lot of traffic during my commute, so my next car will have manual.

    I’d rather enjoy my coffee or answering my phone rather than worry about shifting. Maybe I’m just getting old.

    Finally, it’s still blows my mind away no one brought up Bluetooth at the Round table. I feel slighted as a TS member. Not to disrespect anyone who was there because we all appreciate your hard work for everyone, but man, you have to represent us!!! Please!!!

  40. Diesels have “small usable torque”? Dont know where that comes from. Diesels with manuals crawl along nicely at idle(ie stop&go) in 1st, 2nd or 3rd. And in 5th at 4300rpm(redline 45)thats over 130mph(~220kph). Dont confuse auto turboDs with trucks, theyre not at all similar. 90%+ autoboxes over here is no gouda.

  41. Choice is always preferable be it in selecting how you want your automobile to be outfitted for your driving style or how you want your dinner prepared at your favorite bistro.
    All seven of my SAAB cars since 1973 have been manual transmission automobiles and I anticipate that my next SAAB will provide me with the opportunity to choose what type of transmission I want in it.
    The very best example of providing customers with choices when building an automobile and reaping the corresponding sales benefits was Ford’s/Lee Iacocca’s marketing masterpiece, the 1964 Mustang.
    Choices/building the automobile the way a customer wants it built, was novel forty years ago but still makes great sense/dollars and cents today.
    SAAB cars need to be built so that their unique qualities inherent to the brand remain so. Part of that uniqueness is offering choices which other manufacturers might think outdated or superfluous.
    Build it like a SAAB and they will come!

  42. I really prefer a manual transmission, its part of the driving experience that I enjoy. Currently I cannot imagine have an automatic transmission and not having a manual would be a deal breaker for me unless all the cars I was considering did not have it.

  43. bluetooth, bluetooth, bluetooth!

    and leave manual where it is–standard. lurch-y, golf-cart style driving, from a pricey automatic, is about as interesting as the gridlock for which it’s suited. ymmv.

  44. As I explained to Swade in the email, the BMW 528i and the Acura TL Type S are the only cars in this class that give you the choice of a Manual gearbox.
    I never really seen the 9-5 as saabs best foot forward in the sport category, but in the luxury category, as many others say. So stripping the 9-5 of its manual gearbox will just make it, well, normal. It will do what Audi, Mercedes, Volvo, Lexus, and Infiniti does, by just giving it an automatic. I mean, THEY all are doing well in Europe arent they, so it can’t just be a Euro spec requirement!?

    But I DO think that it would be best to offer it for customer choice. My philosophy is “the more choices a customer has, the more comfortable and happy they are”.

  45. In certain markets, such as Norway where I live, an automatic transmission adds many thousand dollars to the total price, so I think it is vital that they provide a manual as well. That said, most of the 9-5s I see do have an auto, including my father’s. But when you only have the base 2,0t 150hp engine, which is the most sold version by far (now replaced by the 180hp BioPower edition of the same engine), it isn’t very quick. And by adding an automatic transmission, it gets even slower.

    A manual is more fun and involving, but an auto is very handy to have when driving in heavy traffic. I’m not sure what I would have bought if I were in the market for a new car now, but I’d sure want to have the choice.

  46. joemama: maybe you can watch the video of the Round Table. More people were interested in bitching about their dealer experience and the phase-out of analog OnStar.

    You have to realize that the SAAB Owners’ Convention is a really poor place to judge interest in current SAAB issues. The vast majority of attendees don’t own (nor would they be interested in owning) a current-gen SAAB.

    I suggest you watch the video of the Round Table at saabhistory.com. I finally got a question in at the end of the session and at that point I was absolutely shocked nobody had brought-up the fact that we still don’t have BioPower in the States after Steve Shannon had mentioned it as an alternative to diesel several times earlier in the session. Unfortunately, the Round Table was not the venue to get all ones’ questions answered.

  47. Although everyone has already said what I want to say, I just want to heap it on in case any Saab executive brass is listening:
    your manual transmissions may be ropey, they may even be treacherous, but they are soulful and if you don’t offer the choice so help me I’ll start buying Volvos

  48. Sorry to post on the same subject twice, but this is really bothering me.

    joemama wrote above, “I feel slighted as a TS member. Not to disrespect anyone who was there because we all appreciate your hard work for everyone, but man, you have to represent us!!! Please!!!”

    Now what obligation did TrollhattanSaab have to you in “covering” this event? I’m assuming you’re referring to my posts on the Round Table from the S.O.C.

    I’d like you to know I did that as a favor to the community. I offered to take questions to ask of SAAB officials should I get the chance to ask them. I was not at the S.O.C. as a representative of TrollhattanSaab.

    I took vacation time from my paying job (which is not SAAB-related) to fly to Detroit to attend. I paid my own airfare and hotel accommodations. This was basically my vacation this year. To suggest TS has let you down in some way is really misunderstanding what Swade’s ‘blog is here for and why some of us pay out of our own pocket to share with the community. I was informing all of Swade’s readers as a service. Maybe next year you can pay your own way to Boston to cover the S.O.C. and enlighten us all with answers to everyone’s questions.

  49. My ’90 Acura Integra, ’96 Saab 900SET, ’03 9-5 Areo, and ’06 9-3 SC 2.0T were manuals; my ’00 9-5 Aero was an automatic. Guess which car I liked least? (Bonus points for those who can guess which year my partner got his own car?)

    My Saab dealership is 35 miles from home; the local BMW dealership is 0.9 miles from home. If there’s no manual transmission available with the next 9-5, I’ll get a BMW and save 69.2 miles on the round trip to the dealer for service.

  50. Everyone has mentioned their preference for manual, generally, for greater control and involvement. But shouldn’t we also consider the respective positioning for the 9-3 and 9-5?

    If you look at BMW, in Australia anyway, the 5 series, being the more luxurious executive model, doesn’t offer manual. Drivers that want a more sporty car would choose the 3 series which has a manual transmission available as well as a coupe.

    Does the same apply to SAAB? Judging from the comments here it would seem not. Driving enthusiasts would choose either vehicle and manual should be available on both the 9-3 and 9-5. What would be interesting to know is the % of manual and auto chosen by new car buyers for particular models within SAAB’s range.

    I would probably stick with an auto but that’s because I never learnt to drive manual. Having said that the 5 sp auto in the 9-5 could be improved upon and I hope this is addressed in the new model.

  51. Gripen,
    I want to say Thank You and that I DON”T feel slighted in the least. It would have been nice if Bluetooth had been brought up by anyone at the table, but that alone does not deminish all the hard work you put into your coverage. I enjoyed it thoroughly! I wish I could have been there myself.
    Thank you again.

  52. The next-generation 9-5 is going to be the first Saab that I will be able to afford to buy new. Currently I own a 9-5 aero with the 5-speed, and I love the fact that it’s a big sports sedan that still has a stick shift. It’s that sort of thing that helps to set Saab apart from the rest of the automotive landscape, and I’m looking forward to buying a new next-gen 9-5 aero XWD, but only WITH a manual transmission. If they don’t offer the car with a manual stateside, they may well lose my business unless I really like the next-generation 9-3.

  53. As Swade mentioned at the start of this post, Saab execs have a tendancy to read these pages to listen to the enthusiasts. No doubt product development teams would be interested in these discussions.
    Given the increase in time that we are all spending in our cars, Bluetooth is absolutely necessary, to attact the next generation of owners. (Take the spontaneous worldwide silent raves that occurred during the week.)
    As to the manauto debate, they both must be offered. I personnally prefer the manual only because of the type of highway/country driving I do (need to look ahead and decide, something an auto just cannot do). As a further option, perhaps Saab would be interested in developing a hydraulic controlled sequential manual gearbox (computer controlled smooth stop-start, with the efficiency and optional control of the manual).

  54. Well, I certainly feel slighted.

    jk, of course. I don’t give two shits about Bluetooth.

    If Saab does ditch the stick on the 9-5, they should at least offer as an option an automatic with a silly number of gears, like, say, 9 (I picked 9 because it’s one more than Lexus has). That would be a decent compromise. Sure, manuals are more fun, but luxury cars are supposed to be more luxurious than fun. Buy a 9-3 if you want that kind of fun.

  55. Perhaps they should appease us all and bring back Sensonic gearboxes with 6 forward gears, reverse and a fully automatic setting.

    For those of us who use autos so they can do other things with their spare hand – I’d rather you kept it on the steering wheel as much as possible.

  56. Albert,
    this story about the sporters and their bad knees, because of the sportcars, is that true ?
    My knees are worth nothing, and thats because of doing a little bit of basketbal twenty years ago i suppose, can’t see the relation with the heavy clutch – problem with knees in mostly in a turning action when you rotate the knee, using the clutch pedal your leg just need to move up and down, or am i wrong ? (But i must admit i like the idea using crank to start the engine – whow – prewar-bugatti-style, OK that wouldn’t match saab’s modern approach …)

  57. “Saab execs have a tendancy to read these pages to listen to the enthusiasts”

    Is that the case TiggerHooligan & Swade?
    Then they better make sure a 9X-versatile-awd-sports-lightweight-coupe-crossover-with less than 1m15 height-plus saab sensonic gets in the showrooms and on the road fast, or they might be losing a customer …

  58. The idea that GM is unsure about offering a manual transmission further indicates missing the point with what SAAB is all about.

    BMW originally launched the 645Ci in the US with only an automatic transmission. Due to popular demand, it is now available in the US with a 6-speed manual as is the 5-series, the M5 and the M6. The 63 comments so far show that some people like one and that other people like the other.

    My parents have a 9-5 automatic. I have a 9-5 manual. There is no comparison in driving pleasure. If SAAB is a driver’s car (Mercedes and Volvo are not), then offering the stick helps to confirm that position. Someday, the electric/hybrid/flux capacitor drive will force the rest of us to give up this mechanical connection to the process of driving, but this is not that day.

    I could just buy a 9-3 stick, as some suggest, but I want the 9-5 suspension, safety, room, quiet, switchgear….

  59. Most definitely offer a traditional manual transmission with the 9-5 on down, but offer that AND a DSG on a 9-3 and possibly 9-1…for sure if it is on a sport model. DSG is true manual since you choose when to chift and it has a clutch system for gear changes, but I don’t think it is necessary on the 9-5…unless maybe it is a very sporty model like the M5…which still a stick with a closer ratio gearbox might be the best option

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