IMPORTANT NEWS: National Electric Vehicle Sweden has agreed to buy the assets of Saab Automobile and the sale is expected to be finalized during the summer.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

JoeR's Saab 9-5 Aero review

JoeR from Australia posted the following Saab 9-5 Aero review in the comments section earlier this week. In this driver focused review JoeR manages to put his impressions of the car into words in a very enjoyable way. And to me, a review done by an "ordinary" guy is ten times more interesting than the reviews in car magazines.

 So here it is, JoeR's review. Have a great Saab Saturday!

JoeR's review
Day 1 driving the Aero, a real Dr Jekyll, Mr Hyde car and everything in-between. My Toy is a Tarmac VK Commodore that’s makes 230kw and only weights 1275kg. The 9-5 Aero drives like a limo going to a funeral, the outside is like watching the TV in your lounge but flip the gear shift over to tiptronic and use the paddle shifters with the heads up display (that shows the gear position) and the Aero turns into a rocket. The 4 wheel drive allows you to pick a gear lower than you think you need and suddenly that 30km round about in 1st makes the car sling shot out (meanwhile pedestrians continue to not notice you) the car tyres do not squeal and there is no loud exhaust. Best still I can give the car to my wife who will happily pot away with the Grand parents in the back. Better still my 186cm 15 year can fit into the back.

Did I mention the electric hand brake, so easy to use and no lever to clutter the centre console? The heads up display is adjustable so if you lower the seat you can lower the display, cool. Great for school zones, eyes never having to leave the screen. Aero seats are great, firm but when things get busy you are held comfortable in place. The torque of the GM V6 twin-scroll turbo is good, feels like an Ls2. They should put one of these into the VE Commodore. The leather in the car is superb, every time I got back into the car and put my hand on the wheel I would stop and appreciate how it felt.

Saab 9-5 Aero bathing in the Australian winter sun

Day 2 driving the Aero. Trip up the M4 to Penrith, right to Richmond, Kurrajong, Bells Line Rd to Bell, took Darling Causeway to Mount Victoria, Wentworth Falls (short stop) back to Sydney via M4. The M4 the Aero cruised at 1650rpm @ 110kmh. Very comfortable the sun roof open at 7c with seat warmers on and temp set to 24c. All the BMW drivers would have a sticky beak at the Aero as I edged pass. The sun visor can pivot to the side window and extend to completely block out the low rising winter sun, very handy.

The suspension was set to intelligent mode. The road to Penrith had a mixed road surface, the ride was always controlled and you were always aware that the Aero was in control of any bumps or broken road surface. Into Richmond was selecting gears by the gear shifter (+ or -) and using the normal speedo as your hands were more busy and your eyes glancing at sat nav, signs and controls. You could select 6th gear any time over 80kmh. Up the Bells Line Rd following slower than the speed limit traffic as the road narrowed, the other cars ahead seemed to have trouble holding their lane, and often crossing the inside marked lines or travelling over the cat eyes. Strange as the wide 2 ton Saab Aero start to drive like a small car as it was so precise and cut through the road like a knife through butter with no effort at all and always within the lane.

The twin-scroll turbo six was quiet and you were never aware of it, was driving with the paddles and using the heads up display now as the focus was purely on the road and traffic. It was great to have the choice in speedo. On the overtaking lanes, especially the ones on hills, the torque easily kept the car at the speed limit and would easily dispatch the slower traffic. The AWD always presented a neutral attitude into corners even if you happen to go faster then the recommended corner speed because you were scanning another radio station eg 50km into 25km bend, no drama no tyre squeal, just smooth cornering.

 At Wentworth Falls stop for a drink and continued the journey, now following the wife in the V70 2.4T. Set the suspension to comfort and listen to Elton John, Bruce Springsteen. The car rode softer but still you had the reassuring connection to the road. Cruised at 100kmh with 1550rpm, the middle gauge now set to instant fuel consumption. On the flats was slipping into the 6l per 100km. For a 2.8l and car weighting 2 tonne was quiet good, the V70 with a 2.4l was doing better but with only 1500kg weight. As the traffic built on the M4 the speed dropped to 90kmh and now the fuel consumption on the flats was into the 5's.

The seats were still comfortable after spending 4 hours in the car. Back in Sydney, BMW drivers still having a peek at the Aero, even the Porsche drivers gave the car a glance. Off course other SAAB drivers paid attention as well but the award for car envy (never though I see this) when to the Audi driver who stuck his head out the window to get a better look. The car had dropped the fuel consumption from delivered 12.2l per 100 to 11.5 (distance travelled 3500km) so the average for the trip would of been under 10. Maybe not diesel type fuel consumption but very good for a large car with AWD and power of 220kw.

Later that night, picked up 3 adults, two over 182cm, and everybody was commenting on the comfort and leg room, even my Wife (a Volvo tragic) liked the ride but not as cushy as her V70 (is anything?). Unfortunately, I needed to drop of the Aero and transferred to a 2003 9-3 SS. We all fitted (just and it was a short trip) and the willing 2l turbo impressed with its eager turbo but we all missed the comfort of the Aero.

Now would I give the Aero to my teenage daughter (19) to drive, even though it has easily enough performance to get you into an accident if you drove crazy? I would let her drive it as the car is so accomplished in everything it does I know it would protect her, passively and physically! Best of all I could take it on trips, my wife would steal it for the city work, and all of us would fit and perhaps for that odd track day....