• What is it: A long, long overdue replacement for the Saab 9-5 luxury sedan and wagon
• The basics: Built from GM's Buick LaCrosse/Chevrolet Malibu platform; V-6 and turbo V-6 engines; all-wheel drive option
• On sale: Late 2009 in Europe
• Price: $40,000 (est.)
Has the Saab 9-5 has been with us forever, at least in car years? Here's a sample of the life-changing events that have taken place since the 9-5 first emerged. The iPhone. September 11. The Clinton impeachment hearings. And, we should add, TheCarConnection.com.
Even when it bowed in 1998, the 9-5 struggled for attention against the backdrop of Acuras, Lexuses and Volvos. The fusty 9-5 struggles today to compete against the likes of the Volvo S80 and Acura RL--and fares badly in direct comparisons, as its overall score of 6.8 makes the 2009 9-5 one of the lowest-ranked luxury cars here at TCC.
Advancing age and turmoil at General Motors haven't helped at all, but at long last, change is coming to Saab. This fall, the Swedish automaker finally launches a new 9-5, which arrives late this year for Europe and early next year in the U.S.
The new 9-5 has been developed with parent company General Motors, and shares much of its underpinnings with the Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Malibu and with Europe's Opel Insignia.
Images for the car have been out for some time now, showing a clear resurgence of Saab's past design traits married to a modern, sleek profile, and now the company has released official details and specs.
The car’s all-turbocharged powertrain lineup is the broadest ever offered by Saab, with customers able to select from a choice of three fuels--petrol, diesel and E85 bioethanol. At launch, there will be a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel with 160 horsepower, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline unit with 220 horsepower and a range-topping 2.8-liter turbo V-6 gasoline unit with 300 horsepower on tap. Shortly after launch, a 1.6-litre gasoline turbo with 180 horsepower will be introduced, together with a 2.0-liter BioPower E85 engine. All transmissions will be six-speed.
The array of high-tech features continues inside, including a head-up information display (HUD), bi-xenon adaptive headlights, adaptive cruise control; Saab DriveSense adaptive chassis with real-time damping control, keyless entry and starting, dual-zone climate control, a parking assistant, and Saab’s XWD all-wheel-drive system with an eLSD.
Infotainment choices include a range-topping Harman Kardon 5.1 channel surround sound audio system and an 8-inch color touch screen navigation system with hard disk storage for map data and 10 GB for MP3 music files. A large center console provides storage and connections for several portable devices through USB and 3.5mm AUX ports alongside a 12V power outlet.
Rear passengers can even access their own audio or watch a DVD. The rear seat entertainment unit in the back of the center console accommodates audio controls and folding viewing screens are installed in the backs of the front seats. Wireless headphones are provided for listening and viewing.
The new 9-5 will be built at Saab’s home plant in Trollhattan, where it has been engineered, and production is tipped to start by the end of the year. However, we will see it for the time at next month’s Frankfurt Auto Show.