THIS is the first Saab to be launched since GM handed the brand over to Dutch supercar maker Spyker, and one that gives a flavour of what Saab might look like in the future.
It’s been a long, long 13-year wait since the previous 9-5. Thankfully this one is a lot more attractive and slick than the last generation, and indeed, a whole lot more authentic. Triumphant in styling terms for a car that is so big and so heavy, almost all of the 9-5 was created in Sweden and so this car is definitely not a Vauxhall. It is a Saab and it feels like one, mostly. It’s smooth but butch, with a bulky and domineering bonnet and an elegant rear end which features distinctive horizontal rear lights.
There’s also a lot of this car to love. First of all, it’s very wide so you need to be vigilant in order not to shred your wheels. Second, at a whopping 5.1 metres long, the car is a similar size to the BMW 7-Series, even if the target market is Audi A6 and BMW 5-Series buyers. It’s such a long car that you’re left with a sizeable overhang when you pull into a car parking space.
Still, all that space on the outside spells lots of room on the inside, as I found over the festive break. The boot is pleasingly large, enough to fit in a week’s’ worth of smart Christmas day get-up and Boxing Day muddy-walk-wear, plus booze, food and gifts for 14 family members. The only flaw with the boot is a pair of ridges in the far end of the floor. These prevent you from sliding your luggage all the way to the back. Fine if it’s squashy luggage that you can push over the ridges but irritating if you have, say, a heavy cardboard box, especially if you need to use all the space available.
Meanwhile the inside is accommodatingly generous; the seats are comfortable and there’s plenty of space. Our particular car had an optional rear seat DVD entertainment system, which was ideal for passengers being ferried between family in both Kent and Essex, on the classic two-centre Christmas holiday. It also has tinted glass in the rear windows; great if you’re a wife-cheating footballer trying to dodge the paparazzi, but unexpected if you’re just a regular Londoner going about your business – the result was that my wife kept thinking the weather was turning gloomy and miserable every time we pulled away from the kerb. Presumably it’s there to keep the sun off the rear DVD screens.
Priced at £37,795, the 4x4, 300bhp, 2.8-litre V6 turbo, top of the range 9-5 Aero is powerful and thanks to the the 4x4 drive system, has great grip.
The lag-free turbo means the car is comfortable and refined at motorway speeds and great for cruising and overtaking – driving the car on the motorway is a pleasure.
It’s a lot of car for the money whichever way you look at it and a breath of (Nordic) fresh air if you like to be different.