Saab 9-5 driven

  • Low list price and well equipped
  • Not as classy to drive as the best
  • On sale now, from £26,495
Saab’s new 9-5 has a lot of responsibility resting on its shoulders. As the first new model launched under new ownership, it’s crucial to the Swedish brand’s fortunes and future.

It’s just as well that it’s a particularly large car, then. At over five metres, it’s longer than its key rivals – the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class. It’s wider, too, and in the flesh the 9-5’s chunky styling reinforces the impression.

Against such tough competition the 9-5 needs to more than just big; it also needs to be clever.

What's on offer?
Every engine is turbocharged, but as well as the entry-level 2.0 diesel there’s a twin-turbo version, with a meatier 188bhp and the option of front- or four-wheel drive.

Starting point for the petrol engine range is a 1.6, with 177bhp. The next step up is a 217bhp 2.0, in front- or four-wheel drive format, The icing on the cake is the 2.8-litre V6, which has 296bhp, an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive as standard.

More photos of the Saab 9-5

> Saab 9-5 1: click to enlarge
> Saab 9-5 2: click to enlarge
> Saab 9-5 3: click to enlarge
> Saab 9-5 4: click to enlarge
> Saab 9-5 5: click to enlarge
> Saab 9-5 6: click to enlarge
It’s a suitably quick range-topper, but the automatic gearbox isn’t as slick as the one in an equivalent 5 Series and, although it handles well, the 9-5’s steering is uncommunicative. The amount of wind noise at speed is a shame too, because the engine is generally smooth and quiet.

The 2.8T model is only available in top-spec Aero trim, which includes sportier bumpers than Vector SE models and more luxury kit. There’s also a different suspension set-up, with a bias towards taut handling rather than ride comfort. You can live with the more fidgety ride, but we reckon the standard set-up is a better compromise.

Despite an abundance of power and kit, the 2.8T isn’t the most appealing 9-5, due to a price of £37,795. Cheaper, diesel versions make much more sense and are likely to hold their value a lot better.

Standard equipment on Vector SE versions includes Bluetooth, part-leather trim, heated front seats, front and rear parking sensors and automatic headlights and wipers, so you’re missing out.

Leo.wilkinson@whatcar.com

What Car? says…
An interesting, but not brilliant, alternative to the norm
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