Saab 9-5: The TS Edition

In a brazen piece of self-indulgence, I’ve decided to flesh out the thoughts I had previously about sending the 9-5 into the sunset with a bang. My previous idea centered around the fact that the Saab 9-5 is in its final years, earns huge margins for Saab, but is undersold. So let’s eat into the margins a little and make it truly memorable.

Saab have a history of emptying the parts bin when models are running out, so why not build the best equipped 9-5 you can as a special edition? The Saab 9-5 Turbo S, which I could forever refer to as the TS edition. Woohoo!

The pictures that follow are from Saab stock and feature none of the enhancements I’m talking about (except the wheel close-up, which is the real deal). You’ll have to imagine some of the things I’m talking about here, but they’re all – mostly – real.


The Saab 9-5 Turbo S – the ultimate 9-5

Saab 9-5 Turbo S The Saab 9-5 Turbo S will pay similar homage to previous S models in the same way that the Turbo X pays homage to Black Turbos of the past. Being a Saab, it must be practical, fast and understated. Hence the 9-5 Turbo S will only be available as a SportCombi. It will come with all the performance you need plus that little more that you want, and with classic Saab visuals that establish it as something special.


The Saab 9-5 Turbo S will come with a special Hirsch Performance kit, comprising the following:

    performance intercooler,
    performance air filter
    upgraded intake,
    stainless steel dual exhaust system,
    uprated fuel pressure regulator, and
    Hirsch ECU replacement.

Double blade WheelsThis high-output kit from Hirsch will lift the standard Aero 2.3 litre engine to 300hp and provide for a huge 400Nm of torque.

All of this forward power needs plenty of stopping power, which is why the Saab 9-5 Turbo S comes with a larger standard wheel kit, complete with a high performance brake kit.

The Saab Double-Blade wheels are an 18 inch alloy wheel reminiscent of the original double-Y wheels that adorned early model Saab 9-3 Aeros. A modern take on a classic wheel, and the perfect compliment to the 9-5 Turbo S.

The single-piston 345mm brakes allow for plenty of stopping power, over and over again without fade, but more importantly the single piston setup allows for total reliability in everyday driving situations where multi-piston systems can struggle with insufficient cooling.

Of course, as with the Turbo X, power is nothing without control. The Saab 9-5 Turbo S features Saab’s own sports chassis kit, comprising lower, stiffer springs, performance dampers and an all-new limited slip differential. Tuned so as to preserve a comfortable ride in normal conditions, this sports kit will keep all 300 horses pointed in the right direction when the road you’re travelling turns into the road less travelled.


The Saab 9-5 Turbo S will not only get you where you’re going quickly and safely. The Turbo S will also get you there in full comfort and in classic Saab style.

The exterior features a bespoke body kit including front and rear spoilers, side skirts and anodised accents where the regular Saab 9-5 would regularly feature chrome.

The standard 9-5 Aero front spoiler with integrated foglamps is matched with a new rear spoiler that fully accommodates the stainless steel dual exhaust – standard equipment on the 9-5 Turbo S. The side skirts are matched with an anodised door trim decor that compliments the anodised headlight surrounds in a gunmetal finish. Dame Edna never looked so good! A roof spoiler is also included as standard.

Saab seatsIt’s not only the exterior that lets you know that the Saab 9-5 Turbo S is something special. Whilst the exterior is nice for others to look at as you pass them by, it’s the interior where you’ll be spending most of your time.

Seats that keep the driver comfortable and focused have always been a hallmark at Saab. The 9-5 Turbo S features classic Saab sports seats in full, premium black leather with gunmetal trim. Of course, the seats are ventilated and heated to keep you at the right temperature, regardless of the conditions outside and feature full electronic movement and memory positioning.

The interior is typical Saab 9-5 in arrangement – with everything placed logically and within easy reach. The leather trimmed steering wheel allows for easy control of the on-board entertainment and communication system, including full iPod and Bluetooth integration. Split-zone heating and cooling controls, as well as satellite navigation are also just a touch away. Your feet also get a touch of class, with the Hirsch sport pedal kit.

The interior of the Saab 9-5 Turbo S carries on from the enhanced external appearance with a full leather shift knob and gaiter kit as well as leather door inserts. An exclusive finish called Black Diamond is applied to the dash and door trims. It has been formulated exclusively for the Saab Turbo S and will not be available as a retrofit. Black Diamond is a metallic black finish that catches the light as you drive and whilst it provides for a kaleidescope of color in certain light, it is prepared in such a way as to be of minimal visual impact to the driver.

A truly unique finish for a truly unique Saab. The Saab 9-5 Turbo S.

Available as soon as someone at Saab realises it’s worth sending the 9-5 off with a bang.


All of the features I’ve mentioned in this piece are either directly available from Saab, or are well within Saab’s capability. Obviously the Hirsch kit exists, as does the dual exhaust.

Many of the items here were sourced from the Saab Accessories catalogue and whilst the LSD was found at Abbott Racing, I chatted with Saab’s own Kjell AC Bergstrom about this part during the dinner at the Saab Festival earlier this year. Saab have their own LSD and he’s got one in his personal 9-5.

The Black Diamond finish in the interior is similar in concept to an interior I saw in a 9-3 whilst in Sweden (Hi Johanna!). I made the name up, but it’s a surface that catches the light and almost seems to shimmer. That sounds quite distracting, but it’s not. The dash I saw with this finish was in a dusty grey-ish sort of color until the light hit it and I’m sure the effect could be replicated in black.

This was an exercise in fun. I’m sure people could come up with other equipment combinations that would be fun, and I never got around to mentioning things like the sunroof, the safety equipment, the robotic massaging headreasts (!).

I just hope they do something to send the 9-5 off properly.

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  1. The difference between the regular 9-5 2.3T ($37K) and Aero ($38K) in the US is sport seats, lower chassis, metallic trim and different wheels. The 9-5 TS as described would be what the Aero should have been. Perhaps a new special color would be nice but I am sure it would look stunning in Snow Silver as well. How much would the price premium be to keep it competive? $3000 – $5000?

    It’s nice to dream.. I want one with European Delivery, please 🙂

  2. I’ll take one! 😉

    I agree that the 9-5 should go out with a bang, it really is a remarkable car. You’re idea reminds me of the turbo X, which is kind of the same idea as the 9-3SS is on its last facelift before a completely new one… i think.

  3. Cool Swade, almost makes me want to trade my 9-3. 🙂
    You 9-5 guys ought to head on over to saabhistory and read the great autobiography of the 9-5 designer: Saab Designer Profile – Tony Catignani
    It’s a must read and highlights a lot of Saab’s problems today which arise from being under GM. Ryan’s come up with a real gem on this one. Some snippets follow (including why the 9-3 didn’t have a clamshell hood or 4×4):
    “The ‘fun factor and creativity’ was being squeezed out of working in Saab, especially design. Quick Process and profit were the priorities above brand character, identity and uniqueness.”
    “I accepted, and concluded that Saab ‘was a cool company’ but sadly the parent company was gradually strangling it.”
    “For me, the car that epitomised Saab was the 99 turbo. With three significant features, it’s clam hood, wrap around window and hockey stick side window line.”
    “In 1997 the 95 was launched. I thought that the marketing of the 95 was understated. We could have had a more dynamic approach. Less conservative. By 1997 there had been changes to the Saab board, marketing, engineering and the influences of General Motors. The design studio was seen as just a “cog in the wheel” and not central to the company goal.
    By now I had become exterior design chief reporting to Einar Hareide, the design director. The 93 project started around 1997. We, Design wanted to keep the design features and functional value of Saab’s past, but we had opposition. Engineering didn’t want to do the clam hood and marketing thought all customers would want a seden. In the end management and the board sided with them and design had to go along with it. I saw the big picture, but it was hard to convincing others, especially the “bean counters” the way to go.
    They only see tomorrow and the future potential.”
    “At least the 93 wagon/estate came along. On the drawing board was a 4×4 version which was cool! A great pity that it did not go into production. It would have out sold the other models.”
    “During Michael Mauer’s short period with Saab there was some hope of creating new and exciting cars, but sadly even he had limited opportunities under GM’s global processing machine. Sadly in 2000, my time with Saab had come to an end. A great Brand was in danger of becoming just ‘badge engineering’.”

  4. I like it, but I don’t like the idea that it only comes in wagon form, because I think the 9-5 wagon is kinda ugly. I’m sure I’m the only one, but I just think the wagon has some weird looking lines on it.

  5. Swade mate,

    I want one in Cosmic blue.

    And you are right – Svenska Aeroplan Aktie Bolaget needs to send the Niner Fife off with a touch of reheat.

  6. that is one thing that i have been thinking about for a long time! wouldnt it be cool if saab, who is so well known for their turbo engines, actually had a car named TURBO! (i know about the Turbo X, but that is something different) and sending off the 9-5 with a big bang called Turbo S would be perfect!

    i´ll take a red one with silver rails and silver colored chrome in the front! and US front indicators! i just love the color combo of a red saab with beige leather interior.. what i also have been thinking about since i first saw the Aero steering wheel with its silver details – woulnt it be cool if that, and all the other silver parts of the interior, was painted glossy black, like the piano effect. so there you have my specs. and swade – if you need any help, you know where i am. /niklas

  7. having a re-think and i know i’m the only one who will be thinking this but how about all of the above but in polar white with white leather and those white lights as on the 9-5 bio power 100.

  8. Jeff: I agree the combi has some weird lines, but I’d still choose it over the sedan. I think the reason that it’s weird looking is that the rear profile matches the old understated pre-’06 front end, whereas the current post-’06 front end is too aggressive for the rear profile.

    That’s one of the problems with doing a half-assed “refresh”…

    Plus with the combi you get all that utility, and those awesome cargo tracks!

    sethsev7n: I’m worried that the new model, while in most ways will be “better” than the current one, it’s going to “go big”. I don’t just mean in size (which it inevitably will), but in engine. It’s going to have to start with a GM V6 engine. I don’t think that a turbo inline-4 will be available in the 9⁵ anymore, which I think will be a shame. I understand it, but it’ll be a shame nonetheless, IMHO.

    Less and less will differentiate Saab from Audi, BMW, and other competition as GM strives to steal sales away from those marques in the future.

  9. robin m: right on! I like Polar White. It’s a signature Saab color: the BioPower100, the 900 Aero prototypes, and the original 99 Turbo were all white.

    Plus, functionally white doesn’t show dirt as quickly as dark colors do, so it’ll look nicer between car washes…

    I don’t know if those white taillight lenses from the BioPower100 would be road-legal here in the U.S., but I’d definitely import me a set somehow… 😉

  10. Gripen, the Aero X was snow silver i think you will find. it was very much silver not white. At the moment (unless I’ve got it wrong) Polar white is only available on the 9-3 convertible.

  11. I picked up a Polar White 9-5 Aero sedan in July. Love it. I too noticed that the Hirsch kit could raise it up to 300hp. This is what they should have put in the new 9-3 Turbo X, the Hirsch-ed 300hp 2.3.

  12. You know I truly believe that the 9-5 is the best car Saab made before this new 9-3. I didn’t like the new look but, must admit that it has grown on me. This morning I passed a black one… wow that is one menacing looking car.
    It particularly looks at night. It makes you look to see what it is.
    I really believe that Saab’s biggest problems is that the cars are unknown. If i had a penny for every time someone was breaking their necks to figure out what I was driving, I’d be rich. And if I had a penny for the complements my 9-5 (stock everything) Aero gets, I could buy a real jet (joke).

  13. I went back to look into the Aero-X’s color and found that we’d already had this discussion here a while back.

    I believe that the definitive answer was that both the Aero-X and the BioPower100 were indeed Snow Silver rather than Arctic or Polar White.

    What is a color though really? I think scientists would define a color by the wavelength of light which is absorbed by it (therefore reflecting all other colors), right?

    I would like the metal trim on my 9⁵ Turbo S to be gunmetal color, please. Including the side mirrors and those pseudo 3-spoke wheels.

  14. I didn’t like it before the facelift. I’ve just never been a fan of the 9-5 wagon. I think they need to do something along the lines of the 9000 hatch next time.

  15. Amen brother Swade; I agree with you down the line– except for the part about the wagon– I agree with other posters in that some of the lines are off– that, and I’d never drive a wagon, (not even an AMG Mercedes) no matter how cool the mechanicals are. If Saab made the TS version in sedan form, they’d have my deposit as soon as the introductory press conference was finished.

  16. From the American perspective, we see the Japanese and VW with constant special models that are just discount priced option combinations. Steve Shannon’s comment sounded a little like that. Your ideas are much better Swade. Here are some more.

    First, with 300HP, you need/want a limited slip differential. (Also nice in our snow) Abbott and Quaife already have one.

    Second, I would like to hear an exhaust note to remind us of an ’83 or ’78 Turbo. I like my single exhaust that screams in-line motor (unusual in the US) but I know the Europeans love the duals.

    Third, I would be tempted if when I open the door, I immediately think, this is something very special. The number one issue with the 9-5 is the look and feel of the materials inside. While very practical, compared to a BMW/Audi/Mercedes/Volvo, the interior just looks cheaper, to say nothing of the AMG, BMW Individual, etc., so I would add a new top dash cover and door panels in a material that puts the old S60R to shame. This could be the unique luxury leather from the seats with colored inserts and contrasting stitching or some unique material that screams Scandinavian design and that people will still talk about in 20 years.

    Fourth, how about upgraded audio? It might not be too hard to develop a Dynaudio or Bang and Olufsen speaker kit that completely fills all the speaker holes in the car. The speaker grilles in the new door panels could announce the uniqueness of the speakers. (e.g. bright rings and a Dynaudio label.) Of course, the car has the speakers for a 5.1 system but that is an expensive electronics upgrade.

    As for color, SAAB just did Black on the TurboX, how about something light and airy? Red and Beige is nice, but I bet those designers can come up with something even more striking. I am partial to colors that go with navy blue trim.

    Having recently acquired a 9-5 Linear, I would also be delighted if any of this results in parts that I can graft onto my car.

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