The next generation
The very fact that this car is here at all is pretty miraculous, considering that during its development, the owner of Saab at the time, General Motors, decided to call time on the loss making division. Only an eleventh hour rescue by Spyker meant that Saab continued as a going concern. Normally, a new model like the new 9-5 is launched with a big budget marketing campaign, fanfare by its dealers and an exotic press launch to woo the journalists, but all of these fell by the wayside with the 9-5, because company execs were instead concentrating on getting Saab back on its feet.
Thanks to its GM parentage at the time, the 9-5 makes use of an elongated Vauxhall Insignia platform. In Aero guise as tested, the twin turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel engine produces 187bhp, develops 295lb ft of torque, and accelerates to 62mph in just 8.8 seconds. Though the 9-5 never feels as quick off the line as the raw figures suggest, and the engine is noisy, even when warmed through. The driving experience is a little on the mundane side, with steering that feels over assisted at times, and lacks real communication. The 9-5 handles neatly enough though, with plenty of grip, but the ride can become unsettled over poorer surfaces.
As the flagship of the range, it is rare for this kind of model to be paired just to a manual gearbox, with most owners preferring a self-shifting automatic. But in Aero guise, buyers have to make do with a sometimes notchy six-speed manual. Fuel economy figures of 47.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 159g/km would have been remarkable in this size of car just a short while ago, but rivals like the new Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series have moved the game on and return figures that are around 20 per cent better.
Inside, there’s a mix of traditional Saab detailing and modern GM parts bin materials, together with a truly huge cabin. As you’d expect from Saab, the seats are magnificently comfortable, offering lots of lateral support and delivering the kind of comfort that means you can cross continents without feeling weary. The architecture of the dashboard itself is attractive, but lacks the quality of other premium badged rivals – the use of Insignia stalks and switchgear just don’t cut it in a car costing over £32K. Tradition dictates that the ignition key is located between the front seats, like on proper Saabs, but because the 9-5 comes with keyless entry, Saab has thoughtfully located the stop-start button there as a modern day twist. The satellite navigation unit is easy to use, but is let down by the fact that it only allows a five-digit postcode entry. In terms of space, both driver and passengers will never complain at the amount of room on offer, but thanks to a swooping roofline, you do need to bow your head a little more than rivals to get in and out. Boot space is well up to the class average, with 515 litres of space.
Pros: Incredibly spacious, armchair-like seating, large boot, distinctive design, well equipped.
Cons: Lacks the ability of premium rivals, interior doesn’t feel special enough for £32K, noisy engine, no automatic option.
Rivals: Audi A6 S line 2.0 TDI, BMW 520d M Sport, Volvo S80 D5 SE Lux
Saab 9-5 Aero 2.0 TTiD4
Engine: 1956cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Power output: 187bhp at 4,000rpm
Maximum torque: 295lb ft at 1,750rpm
Maximum towing weight: 1,800kg
Top speed: 143mph
Acceleration 0-62mph: 8.8secs
Combined fuel consumption: 47.1mpg
CO2 emissions (Taxband): 159g/km (G)
Benefit in kind tax liability: 23%
Size (Length/width with mirrors): 5,008/2,114mm
Boot space (Minimum/maximum): 515/tba litres
Insurance group: 29
EuroNCAP safety rating: 5 stars
DieselCar rating: 3.5 stars