First test drive Saab 9-5 Sport Combi

First test Saab 9-5 station wagon
First test Saab 9-5 station wagon

Tjänstebilsfakta, Swedish car magazine, exclusively tested the new Saab 9-5 Sport Combi. Background: Tjänstebilsfakta is an online magazine, especially for fleets and leasing customers, so important for later sales volume.

The first test took place with pilot series models. Invited were fleet managers and leasing experts.

Here are the facts, what Tjänstebilsfakta says about the latest Saab 9-5, our meaningful and certainly not quite error-free translation from Swedish:

The Saab 9-5 Sport Combi is eagerly awaited and is needed to put Saab in the black. The biggest fear is on the leasing market, too little future residual value to achieve, but this fear is misplaced.

The first Combi versions of the new 9-5 left the bands shortly before Christmas. After some necessary adjustments, along with a select number of residual value experts, we took a seat behind the wheel of car # 2 and 3, and completed a test drive with the cars just over a month old.

With the new 9-5, Saab will reach its revenue expectations in the segment of the large sedan segment in the year 2011. Now it's up to the new 9-5 SportCombi to show the full potential.

The car is the same car as the sedan from the front to the back seat. The ceiling above the rear seat has been raised by about 10-15 mm for better headroom and pulled into the roofline with an integrated spoiler, which opens into a steeply sloping tailgate, which is divided by a side light bar between the rear lights.

The C-pillar is heavily kinked, a Saab design classic known as a "hockey stick". The hidden D-pillars seem to make the rear window and rear side windows one unit.

Someone said the Sport Combi is nicer than the sedan. That's a matter of taste. But the car is really attractive and elegant, and that's important in a world where cars are more and more of a look, and in principle all cars are good, service-friendly and safe tools. It's almost like a hatchback, as one participant put it.

As a result, the new 9-5 SC has a few liters less load than a comparable Volvo and BMW 5er Touring. But the 530 liters to 555 liters and 560 are quite sufficient to cater to most families. They survived for twelve years with the old 9-5 - and it was much smaller.

Tjänstebilsfakta is testing the new Saab 9-5 Sport Combi
Tjänstebilsfakta is testing the new Saab 9-5 Sport Combi

The wide and strongly inclined C-pillar unfortunately obscures the view for the rear passengers. Competitors with larger glass surfaces offer a significantly more airy sense of space.
As in the sedan, there is a U-shaped rail in the floor, where a telescopic cargo divider (optional) can be used to fix the luggage. The floor can be opened in three stages. When folded, this is held by a strut and then works as a shopping bag holder. A tire repair kit is standard, the spare wheel optional, but then you lose the extra deep cargo area and must compensate for a 6,5 centimeters deep space.

Saab is not aligned with the practical 40 / 20 / 40 folding Volvo seat back, but uses the traditional 60 / 40 seat back. A warning triangle is neatly secured in a compartment in the tailgate - useful in an accident.

The remote control, which can be programmed for different opening heights, is optional. The old hard luggage compartment cover from the old 9-5 has disappeared and has been replaced by a regular, thinner cover hooked to the D-pillar, similar to a 9-3 from 2006.

The test drive was to take place on the Saab test track, but was laid on public roads in the morning due to heavy rain. What self-confidence Saab has to see the available toughest competitors: Audi A6 Avant and Volvo V70. The BMW 5er Touring is Saab's goal and is considered a benchmark. For reference we had a standard 9-5 SC.

Behind the steering wheel you can see the welcome improvement of the interior materials. The sedan will benefit from these improvements from model year 2012.

Saab has worked hard to keep the model on limousines comfort and handling. The stern has been modified to handle the higher weight. Under the loading floor and the wheel arches there is additional insulation to minimize the usual combination noise. We ride on soft Nordic winter tires, which are friendly for ear. But from the driver's seat of these pre-series cars, nothing indicates that Saab did a bad job.

The driving characteristics could not be tested under any load on public roads, because the chassis was not yet fully tuned with power steering. But the car is just as appealing, safe and eager to go in turns and conveys as much driving pleasure as the sedan.

In its competitors, the BMW 5er-Series steering, the steering feels more direct and precise, but the 9-5 is not far off. In the same discipline, the 9-5 beats both the Audi A6 Avant and the Volvo V70. The Audi steering feels too light, the Fahrwek is bumpy and the noise level is higher. The Volvo V70 is indeed a safe vehicle, but does not give its driver driving pleasure. The steering is too inexact, gives a too light and uneasy feeling.

The BMW interior gives a higher quality and the eight-speed automatic transmission in combination with the two-liter diesel with 184 PS is hard to beat.
But the driver environment, or the cockpit of the Saab, is a little bit more comfortable in Sweden. The tunnel of the center console of the BMW console disturbs a little on the right leg.

Both the Saab standard and the sports seats are very comfortable with good adjustment options (and would have been even better if we had gotten rid of the Opel lever and would have received a variable adjustment of the Lehnenneigung). Volvo V70 seats are good, but have too short cushions. To offer the same comfort as the Saab 9-5, sports seats are required in the Audi.

In the case of personal, but still very real perceived quality, BMW is in a class of its own. However, the Saab corresponds to the current Audi A6 and Volvo.

The new 9-5 SportCombi shares components with the Opel Insignia and has Fiat diesel engines, but everything is optimized and "Saabified" in Trollhättan. The SpotCombi has the same gasoline, bioethanol and diesel turbo engines as the sedan and also the same four-wheel drive system (Saab XWD). There are three gasoline versions 180, 220 and 300 PS as well as two diesel with 160 and 190 PS.

New for model year 2012 will be a small diesel engine with 136 PS. Both he and the 160-PS version are optimized to emit less than 120 grams of CO2 per kilometer. The exact time of the launch Saab could not say today.

We drove the car with the two 160 - and 190-PS diesel. The smallest marched on the streets at a comfortable pace at 1100 RPM. Switch means you have to shift down to third gear to overtake. Both diesels are efficient (around 5,5 l / 100 km in leisurely driving are no problem) and powerful enough for the needs of most drivers.

The most economical in our round was the Audi A6 with a 170-PS two-liter diesel and a consumption of five liters per 100 km.

Official figures are not yet clear, but we expect a slightly higher CO2 emissions than the sedan.

Also from the technical side there are some news for the model year 2012. In addition to the already available HUD, there are lane change warning, radar brakes combined with Adaptive Cruise Control and automatic start / stop function.

The world premiere will take place at the Geneva Motor Show. Then the books are open for orders and after the summer break the first customers will have their cars.

After a few curvy kilometers outside Trollhättan, you can see that the new 9-5 SportCombi has every chance of gaining market share in this segment.
It is at least on par or better than some of the top sellers in this class. It's a distinctive car with a host of premium features. Dealers guarantee the residual value of leasing customers. It will be a hot game for families with children in the used car market if they do not already opt for a new vehicle.

The market of large station wagons gets more fun and an interesting vehicle. Sweden would be much boring without Saab.

Source: Tjänstebils Fakta

Photos: Tjänstebilsfakta (1), Saab (1)