Saab 9-5 Sport Tourer driven

* New car will be more 'Saab' * Bewildering array of suspension set-ups * Car maker is 'back on the right track', though...

Saab 9-5 Sport Tourer driven

Its fair to say that Saabs existence under GMs stewardship wont go down in history as either companys finest hour.

Having finally shaken off GM's corporate shackles, the Swedish company now feels it is once again free to build cars with a distinct Saab character. That will certainly come as good news to its UK fans.

Openly admitting that the recently launched 9-5 lacks that essential Saab DNA, the company is now taking steps to remedy the situation with a host of engineering chassis revisions.

The first to benefit from these changes will be the 9-5 Sport Tourer.

Although its still some months before we get to drive the finished cars, Saab allowed us to have a sneak preview on a route close to its UK headquarters.

Saab is working on a bewildering number of different suspension options. There are different rear suspension arrangements for four wheel-drive-cars, more sophisticated front suspension systems known as HiPer Strut to handle the greater torque outputs of the most powerful engines, and then there's variable-rate steering systems, adaptive suspension set-ups and self-levelling payload control.

Back to basics

Our advice would be for Saab to ignore the more complex arrangements and stick to basics.

The front HiPer Strut arrangement would be a worthy addition, but beyond that it's simply a case of tuning the set up to work on UK roads.

Saabs engineers are on the right track, though. The most basic car we tested displayed excellent body control and strong traction, although the low-speed ride is jittery.

The SportWagon will cost around £1200 more than the saloon and its certainly a handsome estate, with vast amounts of usable interior- and boot space.

However, whether customers will be prepared to put up with the rather cheap finish to the interior and noise from the diesel-powered models remains to be seen.

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