Saturday 24 March 2018

Back on a 9-5 after Saab-batical

IT was great to see Saab back in the cut and thrust of things again with the unveiling of their new 9-5 here.

For a marque that had been written off, and indeed had its obituaries published, here was evidence that there is plenty of life left in the Swedish icon.

The new 9-5, a rival for the likes of the Mercedes E-Class and BMW 5-series, has had its loyal following and we’re told there’s an encouraging amount of interest being expressed in the new arrival. The market needs competition and variety.

The 9-5 is a big, comfortable motor and Saab is lucky in having a few months to get people used to the idea that they are back – before the New Year spending begins in January.

What can they expect?

Well, all the old traits are there – a lovely driving position, good room front and rear (134mm longer wheelbase). Safety is top of the agenda (it has a five-star Euro NCAP rating), so you get thirdgeneration active head restraints for the front seats and rear side airbags for example.

Options include head up display which projects information onto the windscreen, adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go, ‘smart beam’, which automatically adjusts the light depending on speed, oncoming traffic, steering direction and weather.

The engine in our quick test was the 2-litre TiD turbodiesel (160bhp, 139g/km/Band B). A 2-litre 190bhp TTiD twin turbodiesel is due shortly. There will also be a 1.6-litre turbo petrol (180bhp), a 2-litre BioPower (220bhp) and a 2.8- litre V6 (300bhp).

All have, or will have, sixspeed transmissions. Price and equipment are critical for a car making its ‘comeback' debut. Standard equipment includes ninespeaker radio/CD, front foglamps, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights, heated mirrors, MP3 integration and electronic park brake.

Linear models have 17in alloys, cruise control, dualzone climate control and leather steering wheel, while Vector spec adds Bluetooth, front and rear park assist, electric/ heated front seats and leather upholstery.

The 2-litre TiD Linear starts at €36,500 (automatic €39,300) ex-works, with the Vector model at €39,500 (automatic €42,300).

There will be a new 9-5 estate and a 9-4X luxury crossover within the next 18 months, while there is a new Saab 9-3 in the pipeline for 2012.

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