Saab 95 Review: Model | 95 | Car Buyers Guide

2010 Saab 9-5 Review

Does the average Irish car buyer care what conglomerate owns the company he's buying his new car from? After all, Ferrari is effectively owned by Fiat, the new Bentley Continental GT (see page 46) is built by Volkswagen and the Rolls-Royce Phantom is brought to life by the same people who sell the Mini. The car itself is important, but perhaps branding is more so than we all realise.


Saab is a perfect example of this. For car nuts, the name still conjures up images of Erik Carlsson and Stig Blomqvist (not to be confused with the celebrity one) showing the rallying world what a big turbocharger in a small car can do. The company still trades on its aerospace roots, despite leaving them behind at the end of World War II. General Motors took over in 1989 and since the early ’90s every model has shared its underpinnings with GM products.


The marque attempted to maintain its quirky, technological image through this period, but the general feeling is that Saab was never really allowed to flourish and hence it nearly disappeared from the automotive landscape in 2009 before Spyker, a little-known Dutch sports car maker, stepped in to take over the reins. Production restarted and, finally, the new 9-5 saloon tested here made it to market.


Saab fans will like it instantly. It retains the brand's idiosyncrasies but adds a real dollop of style. The characteristic nose design is complemented by an unusual side profile with judicious use of chrome detailing to accentuate the shape of the side glass. It all works best with large wheels, while the Aero model features additional tweaks to the exterior to make it look sportier. Importantly, it looks like it competes with other executive cars such as the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6.


The interior isn't quite so successful, in that it doesn't exude the same quality as the German cars. However, it's arguably more interesting. Saab hallmark features include 'joystick' operated air vents, the stop-start button between driver and front passenger and the 'Night Panel' function that reduces strain on the driver at night – by reducing read-outs to a minimum. The on-board computer can also display the car's speed in a bizarre, aircraft-inspired altimeter style, but it's not very intuitive to read. The 9-5’s cabin boasts masses of space, though – front and rear.


Leather upholstery is standard in Vector and Aero models, and it's a must-have for a luxury car nowadays. The seats in the 9-5 are extremely comfortable, too. That comfort is enhanced by a chassis that foregoes dynamism in the search for relaxation. Even on large 19-inch alloys it rides exceptionally well, soaking up potholes and the like in a fuss-free manner.


Sadly, keener drivers will be frustrated. The 9-5's body control doesn't come close to that of its German competitors, so it tends to wallow about in corners if you approach them with any sort of enthusiasm. The steering, somewhat surprisingly, offers a good deal of feedback, though it's much too light for our liking.


Turbocharging has always been a big part of the Saab brand and it seems that the company intends to continue that. All versions of the 9-5 sold in Ireland are turbocharged and of 2.0-litre capacity. Diesel power comes in single or twin turbocharged forms, denoted by TiD and TTiD respectively. The former manages to break into Band B for tax while the latter is the only engine currently available with the sportier Aero specification. The petrol model is called BioPower, as it can run on E85 bio-ethanol.


The TTiD engine is definitely the one to have. Its performance is effortless, and thanks to the dual-stage turbocharging there is zero lag at low speeds. Admittedly, it sounds a little harsh at higher revs, but really there's no need to extend it, such is its pace in the mid-range. The automatic gearbox is a good partner, though it's not the smoothest automatic transmission available.

While the Saab 9-5 is generally equipped to an adequate level, it's best to opt for at least Linear specification. Even so, the car is expensive when compared to the latest BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, and it doesn't quite have the same cachet. The Aero model is undoubtedly the most enticing, but we're not convinced that its stunning good looks are enough to convince conservative buyers out of their German cars, especially at a near €50,000 price tag. Saab enthusiasts with a little money, however, probably won't care.




Saab 9-5 Aero 2.0 TTiD



1,956cc turbocharged 4-cyl


Output @ rpm

[email protected],000, [email protected],750



6-sp auto FWD



0-100km/h 8.9 seconds


Top Speed






CO2 Emissions



CO2 Tax Band

E (€630 p.a.)





Boot Capacity



Base Price

€36,500 (9-5 Linear 2.0 TiD)


Price as Tested



On Sale




Stunning looks, comfort, pace



Loud entry-level diesel, relatively expensive






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