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Saab 9-5 Vector review

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    Built on GM's Epsilon platform, the new 9-5 is a much larger, more substantial offering than before. Photo Gallery

Chris Riley road tests and reviews the Saab 9-5 Vector.

It wasn't so long ago that Saab was for all intents and purposes dead in the water.

Dumped by General Motors during the financial crisis, it was eventually bailed out by German sports car maker Spyker which has in turn joined with a Chinese company Hawtai Motor Group with a guarantee of substantial financial support in return for shared technology.

It's all a bit confusing really, apart from the fact that Saab is back and back with an all new resuscitated 9-5. So what? I hear you say. They couldn't get it right the first time what makes you think they'll do any better this time around?

The short answer to that question is that the new and improved 9-5 ain't half bad.

It's not going to set the world on fire but it is definitely appealing, with its long bonnet and swept back windscreen.

The 9-5 has plenty of cache for the price and is a genuine alternative to mainstream Audi's, Benzes and BMWs.

Going forward, however, Saab needs to work on putting some distance between its cars and those of the opposition.

It needs to emphasise the points of difference that make a Saab a Saab, like returning the ignition key to its rightful place between the front seats. That's what will sell cars.

DESIGN

Built on GM's Epsilon platform, the new 9-5 is a much larger, more substantial offering than before.

It's 172mm longer than the first generation 9-5 and, more importantly, 361mm longer its sibling the 9-3. Previously the two models were far too close in size.

Suprisingly, the 9-5 is longer and wider than the Mercedes E-Class, although the Benz boasts a longer wheelbase.

In keeping with its aircraft heritage, the car's interior features green instrumentation, with some aviation cues like the horizon-style speed gauge and the night panel button that knocks out all but essential instrument lighting at night.

Ironically the speed gauge is not necessary because the holographic head-up display projects the car's current speed in the lower part of the windscreen.

The interior is light and bright and friendly, with clean unclutterred styling and easy to read instruments.

The centre console is dominated by a large touch screen navigation screen with a an upmarket Harmon Kardon sound system and 10Gb hard drive.

Bluetooth, park assist, bi-xenon lights, automatic lights and wipers and heated front seats are all standard.

TECHNOLOGY

Motivation in the Vector model is provided by a 2.0-litre turbo charged petrol engine that delivers 162kW of power and 350Nm of torque from 2500 revs.

It's good for 9.4 litres/100km and will do the dash from 0-100km/h in 8.5 seconds, with a top speed of 235km/h.

The four cylinder engine is hooked up to a 6-speed Japanese Aisin transmission, with the option to change gears manually via the shifter or steering wheel mounted paddles.

For another $2500 the optional DriveSense chassis control system provides intelligent, sport and comfort modes _ but we reckon sporty doesn't feel all that sporty.

DRIVING

Performance is brisk but the turbocharger has trouble keeping up with the demands of the throttle. Although traction control is fitted, the front wheels tend to scramble for traction, especially in the wet.

VERDICT The 9-5 is an appealing car, but we're hoping there's better things to come yet as Saab seeks to redefine its identity. The 9-5 Turbo4 Vector sedan is priced from $75,900.

SAAB 9-5 TURBO4 VECTOR

Price: from $75,900
Engine: 2.0-litre 4 cyl Petrol twin-scroll turbocharger, 162kW/350Nm
Trans: 6 speed SENTRONIC Sports automatic
Economy: 9.4 litres/100km
Warranty:3 years / 100,000km warranty

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 5 comments

  • Rob of LA, this is an Austalian website you daft moron. Different price structure in .au.

    Ling of Earth Posted on 28 June 2011 1:55pm
  • This reporter must be drinking some strong vodka, prices start from 43k not 75k. Also the ignition is still in-between the seats (must have been drink driving all week if he did nt notice that ) spyker is not german, hawati fell through weeks ago. Fcuk man…...

    Cutter of Uk Posted on 28 June 2011 12:06pm
  • I am no motoring journalist, but even I know that Spyker are Dutch and that the Hawtai deal fell through 6 weeks ago. First paragraph = Fail.

    Lammie of England Posted on 28 June 2011 8:32am
  • 75 grand for that?!  Bet they might sell 2 this year…what a joke for that money.

    Rob of LA Posted on 27 June 2011 11:26pm
  • Spyker is a Dutch sports car manufacturer, not German. And the Saab-Hawtai deal collapsed, now the deal is a 3 way joint-venture with Pang Da (A Chinese vehicle distributor) and Youngman Lotus (a Chinese auto maker)... Just saying smile

    Se?n Moloney of NSW Posted on 27 June 2011 4:34pm
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