Saab 9-5 2.8t Aero XWD car review
- We like...Saab-y details
- We don't...Loses value quickly, early on
This is the most expensive Saab you can buy just now. It’s the 9-5 2.8 T Aero XWD, so it’s the top trim level, and powered by a six-cylinder petrol turbo producing close to 300bhp. All that power’s put to the road via all-wheel-drive.
The 9-5 uses similar running gear and underpinnings to Vauxhall’s Insignia and knowing that immediately casts a cloud over this car’s lofty asking price. To be fair, Saab says the car shares only a third of its components with the Vauxhall and that the many of the bits that found their way into the Insignia were Saab-designed rather than the other way round. It’s a clever argument. Meanwhile, spending extra on the top model means more intricate suspension than you’ll find on lesser 9-5s. And the engine gets something called a ‘twin-scroll’ turbocharger, which delivers extra punch from low engine speeds.
However, coming back we must to the price tag: similar or even cheaper gets you an equivalent Audi A6, BMW 5-series or Mercedes-Benz E-class. Against this level of competitor, the Saab needs to be better than good.
At just over 5 metres long it’s a big car, longer than an E-class and matching BMW’s the 7-series, which fits into the next biggest size class. For the 9-5 that means a huge cabin, and space that is particularly generous for those sat in the back. Its boot isn’t the biggest, however – the E-class’s is a little roomier.
In this class, the way the cabin looks and feels is key. When Audi’s A6 is so beautifully tricked out inside – all carefully chosen fabrics and millimetre-perfect shutlines – the 9-5 needs to be sublime.
First impressions are positive. The cockpit-style layout enwraps the driver and there are good Saab-y touches such as the little directional paddles on the air vents and the ‘night panel’ switch, which kills illumination to all but the speedo. But the seats – once the make’s strong point – don’t feel ‘special’. And, if you’ve sat in an Insignia lately, you’ll recognise some of the switches .
Keeping with the 9-5’s jet-plane theming this top-line model has a head-up display, where the driver may choose to have the speed, rev counter, outside temperature or sat-nav directions beamed on to the screen, low in his sight-line. With that engine you’d expect this 9-5 to be quick and it’ll not disappoint. When summoned to, it’ll move with surprising energy, while at speed it is quiet, smooth and very comfortable. But there’s not the fine degree of response from the steering or suspension that you’d experience in a 5-series. Nor is there the solid, glued-to-the-road sense you feel in an E-class. It’s good, but unexceptional.
Like others of its type, we’d expect the 9-5 to begin life on a company fleet. But, to be chosen above its rival BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Aud,i it needs a low CO2 rating (to reduce personal tax bills) and also to lose value slowly as it ages (to keep company accountants happy). But its 244g/km of CO2 output means a hefty tax bill. Meanwhile, it’s expected that it will lose two-thirds of its original value by the time it is three years old, while having covered just 36,000 miles. Measured against its key rivals, that’s a poor performance
Should you buy one? Well, the 9-5’s not without appeal. Trouble is, though, that the competition is so good that it’ll struggle from new and for us it’s an also-ran. Watch this space, though. After three years that heavy value loss will turn into a used-car bargain.
- Engines2.8 6cyl twin-scroll turbo
- 0-60 mph6.9secs
- Insurance groups38
Motors.co.uk value verdict: