Saab 9-5 Review and Specs

Saab 9-5 Review


  • Massive boot
  • Very spacious interior
  • Excellent value for money
  • Unique design


  • A satisfactory drive without the thrill factor
  • Interior quality lacking in comparison with its rivals
  • Poor residual values
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Overview, Look, and Feel of the Saab 9-5

The Saab 9-5 is a big executive saloon with plenty of space, whether seated in the front or storing shopping in the boot. It first came into being in 1997 as a replacement for the 9000 series and lasted until 2012, when production stuttered with buyout negotiations.

The first generation cars are available as a four-door sedan or the five-door station wagon body shapes that have a rounded front with a relatively flat bonnet and prominent body coloured bumper. The rear slopes off to the large spacious boot and wide high back end.

The second generation was introduced in 2010 and includes the first cars produced after the Spyker buyout of GM. The newer 9-5 is a more aggressive-fronted vehicle, with a deeper grille and a more stylised headlight cluster. The deep yawning grille, strong C-Pillars, and high set boot give it a distinctive look. However, supply issues and production problems bedevilled the car, and it never really hit the streets.

There are some great styling measures on the Saab 9-5’s interior Night Panel settings, allowing pale lighting to illuminate only the most essential of controls during the dark hours, such as start button, keyless entry, and the aeronautically-inspired dashboard.

Saab 9-5 Engine Specs and Performance

The first generation Saab 9-5s are driven by 2.0L and 2.3L petrol engines. These were later replaced by Fiat 1.9L and 2.2L turbo diesels. The earlier models come with the 4-speed automatic, as the manual transmissions were never offered with the first generation cars. There are also a number of hybrid and BioPower versions available.

The 3.0L V6 turbo, fitted around 2006, is capable of putting down 190Kw and had 350Nm worth of torque. Its acceleration takes it from a standing start to 100km/h in 6.9 seconds, with a combined fuel economy of 14.9L/100Km.

The 2011 Saab 9-5s are fitted with Vector TiD4, Turbo4, and Aero Turbo6 engines. The top range Turbo6 engines have a power output of 221Kw and 400Nm torque, while producing up to 262g/Km of CO2 emissions. Their fuel consumption for a 100Km trip is calculated at 11.3 litres.

Saab also has a long tradition of innovative safety features. The 9-5 continued this by installing the Saab Active Head Restraint (SAHR), which cut down on whiplash injuries. Even the 1990s models have side impact bars, head and torso airbags, and ever since 2002, Electronic Stability Controls (ESP) are standard in the 9-5s. The 9-5 is also equipped with ABS, immobiliser, and traction control.

Standard Equipment and Options for the Saab 9-5

There are only two trim levels available, as dealers forwent the linear trim in favour of the upscale Vector and Aero specs. The standard kit on the entry level Saab 9-5s gives you duel exhausts, powered and heated door mirrors, remote entry, speed control, memory seat, air-con, and a telescopic powered steering wheel. The cars also contained a CD player with nine speakers, wheel mounted controls, rain sensitive wipers, leather-covered steering wheel, tire pressure warning light, fog lights, headlight wipers, trip computer, and delayed lights off.

The higher spec cars have more in their standard kit, including powered moonroof, entertainment system, leather upholstery, better quality alloy wheels, and speed sensing steering.

Back in the 1990s, the Saab 9-5 still came well-equipped, even as an entry model. They are fitted with air-conditioned glove box, dual zone climate control, four cup holders, in dash CD/cassette system, and double sun visors. The extras package provides powered sunroof, front and rear heated seats, full leather interior seat ventilation (the first of its kind), and driver seat memory settings.

Saab 9-5's Competition

The Saab 9-5 has a lot to offer those who buy it. However, it is pitted against two of the heavyweights in its class. The executive saloon big boys from Germany, such as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the BMW 5-Series, are more than capable of matching the Saab in many areas.

Other pretenders to the crown include the Volvo V70, Audi A6 Avant, and the Cadillac CTS. The Saab has some nice little touches to its favour, though, and its pricing in the market place most definitely makes it appealing. Once the ownership issues settle down, the residuals should rise once more to their previous levels.

Saab always went out of their way to provide cars with great kit and the latest safety features as standard, emphasising their view that the customer was important. The Saab 9-5 is a sizable saloon car, offering cavernous storage space, plenty of legroom, and decent running costs.

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