9-5 lives on

Despite all the turmoil, Saab still has it, writes Ian Mallon

THOSE who promote the notion of 'eco driving' will have you believe that butterflies and ladybirds will float majestically from exhaust pipes.

'The world will be a better place thanks to Green cars,' we're told.

'Rain forests will reform, deserts will be replaced by lush plains and hummingbirds will sup nectar from orchids on city centre streets.'

But let's be honest, the notion of 'eco driving' is as alien a concept as the Nissan Leaf completing a journey of less than 100kms, without the battery running out of puff.

Car manufacturers and Green Party (remember them) politicians have jumped onto the eco bandwagon with great enthusiasm as a new form of marketing.


It's a bit like a big celebrity having a charity to sponsor -- a necessary bit of goodwill PR to make everybody feel good about themselves.

And it works beautifully for some manufacturers. The Toyota Prius is a must-have brand for the 'save the planet' celebs in Hollywood, and is beautiful machine to boot.

The ESB trips over itself to help launch the latest electric car -- yet none of its executives drive electric motors.

That's why the tale of the Nissan Leaf blowing in the wind on last weekend's Top Gear Show has kicked the whole green thing back several years.

The image of James May pushing the out-of-power Nissan Leaf as Clarkson guides it from behind the wheel, was all very funny indeed.

I must qualify this by stating that I don't know whether the Nissan Leaf will get you to your destination -- I haven't ever driven one, or won't be any time soon.

Although I do know that I would expect that any car which you pay €35k for will at least reach the end point on its journey.

So if the latest bit of 'PR' doesn't hammer another nail into the coffin of the Electric Car, then maybe you should go for the Saab 9-5 BioPower.

BioPower is one of those concepts that doesn't ram the whole Green agenda down your throat, but it does give you a choice (ethanol or petrol).

More importantly than that though, the 9-5 is one of the fastest improved cars on the planet - a thrill to drive, with great poke and performance which makes it the Darren Clarke of motors - a heavyweight performer which many thought was long past its best, only to make a sensational comeback.

While not quite a Major win, the 9-5 is the car for which Saab can shape its entire future, after years in the doldrums fading into obscurity.

Saab, having been cannibalised so much by General Motors over the years, has made something of a miracle recovery.

And with the 9-5's sumptuous styling, comfort and performance, it is a welcome return to form for the newly acquired part-Chinese badge, which is now majority held by the Swedes.

The Saab 9-5 will cost you from €36,500-€55,540.