Saab 9-5 2.0TiD

Saab fans rejoice... This is the best car the firm has ever built.

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

There’s no doubt the new Saab 9-5 is an appealing car. But what’s more, its launch is impressive feat for a company that managed to bring the model to market while staring closure in the face. With prices starting at £26,495 for the 2.0TiD tested here a tempting one as well. However, we’ve got a sneaking suspicion that the star of the show won’t be the hot 2.8T Aero or perky 2.0T four cylinder but the forthcoming 2.0-litre TTiD. Specified with the sports chassis and Drive Sense the 188bhp diesel promises to be just like the re-birth of the company – worth waiting for.

For Saab, life begins again at 63. And as we get ready to take to the wheel of the firm’s new 9-5, it’s hard to believe that the company was in the midst of a liquidation process that threatened all those who worked for it just four months ago.

Thanks to entrepreneur Victor Muller, who also owns Dutch supercar maker Spyker, the Swedish car maker has a chance to rise out of the ashes once again.

Plans for the future include an all-road 9-4X, plus a new MINI rival. Not to mention a Saab badged supercar, based on the Aero X concept from the 2006 Geneva Motor Show.

But back to the present – and there’s no escaping the fact that the 9-5 is the most technologically advanced and important car Saab has ever released.

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_narrow","fid":"69263","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image"}}]]

At over 5 metres long the first thing that strikes you about the Saab is its size – which gives it real road presence. The traditional three-hole grille has been updated further while purists will be happy to see the hockey-stick side window line has been retained.

It’s the rear styling that works the best though, with the ‘ice-block’ tail-lights, also inspired by the Aero X concept and muscular rear haunches.

The interior boasts some of the most advanced technology seen on a Saab model such as aircraft inspired head-up display, touchscreen sat-nav and optional Drive Sense control (adaptive chassis). The former is actually very useful, and can display speed, engine revolutions and navigation routing ahead of the driver on the windscreen. And though keyless start is standard, the starter button remains between the incredibly comfortable front seats.

All the controls are logically laid out on the gently curving console while the green-lit instruments are easy to read. The extra length of the car translates to a passenger space that is more than generous, both front and back while the boot and its clever u-rail cargo system proves capacious.

Saab has often aimed to be green with its range of turbocharged petrol engines, and while there are such options available in the new car, the diesel will likely be the biggest seller in the UK. With Co2 emissions of only 139g/km the 159bhp 2.0-litre unit is one of the cleanest in its class – it also manages 53.2mpg on the combined cycle.

Refinement of the four-cylinder is actually quite good but thanks to the long gearing of the six-speed box you have to work the powerplant quite hard to make decent progress and the big executive will manage 0-60mph in just under 10 seconds. On the road the biggest complaint is the wind noise, which is most evident from around the windows.

Our Vector model did without Drive Sense, but thanks to deep sidewalls on the 17-inch wheels the ride was acceptable, though the front suspension occasionally sent a shudder through the cabin. A brief drive of the Aero version would suggest it is an option well worth specifying as it also changes the steering weighting – in our car this was very light and over-keen to self-centre.

If you are looking for the ultimate driver’s machine, this Saab clearly isn’t it. However, it is well designed, comfortable, economical and – more importantly for Saab fans – the best the company has ever offered.

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services
Tesla Model 3 police car - front
News

Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services

Tesla hopes to offer UK police forces a new zero-emission emergency responder option with the Model 3 police car
17 Jun 2021
New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power
Vauxhall Astra render
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power

The new Vauxhall Astra will get a plug-in hybrid powertrain and a more premium image - here’s how it could look
17 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police
police speed gun
News

Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police

Lack of road traffic police officers in the UK is making it easy for drivers to break the law, according to a survey of 15,500 British motorists
16 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron 2021  front
Audi Q4 e-tron

New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review

We get involved with the new all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron SUV on UK roads for the first time
17 Jun 2021
Dacia unveils new badge design
Dacia badge
Dacia

Dacia unveils new badge design

The new Dacia branding will feature on the company’s cars from 2022, with the Bigster being the first candidate
17 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
'I was cynical about Hyundai's aim to be the world's 2nd biggest carmaker, not now'
Opinion Genesis Hyundai Ioniq
Opinion

'I was cynical about Hyundai's aim to be the world's 2nd biggest carmaker, not now'

Steve Fowler is impressed by Hyundai's electric cars, its N division and now its luxury Genesis brand
16 Jun 2021
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition
Ford Puma

Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed

Ford unveils a special edition Puma ST, with a black and gold colour scheme chosen by Ford fans over social media
18 Jun 2021
Mazda to launch 10 new hybrids and three new EVs by 2025
Mazda electric plan
Mazda

Mazda to launch 10 new hybrids and three new EVs by 2025

The electrification push forms part of Mazda’s goal to become a completely carbon neutral company by 2050
17 Jun 2021
New Renault Arkana 2021 review
Renault Arkana - front
Renault Arkana

New Renault Arkana 2021 review

Does an eye-catching coupe-SUV body give the new Renault Arkana the edge over other mid-size SUVs? We find out...
16 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021