Saab 9000, the fast Swede from the upper class

Saab 9000 CSE
Saab 9000 CSE

A look back into the recent Saab past and time for a Saab 9000 purchase advice. The last Saab of the Saab-Scania era is the Saab 9000. Developed from 1979, it came onto the market in 1985. Saab's first contribution to the luxury class of automobiles was basically developed as a Tipo4 project together with the Fiat Group as the basis for Lancia Thema, Fiat Croma and Alfa 164. The joint journey of the two companies soon broke up again, so that the Saab 9000 shared with the Italian relatives only the windows, doors and a few other body parts. However, here is not door door. All Saab have an impact protection in the doors, but the cars of the Fiat Group not.

Saab 9000, year 1998
Saab 9000, year 1998

The 9000 is available as a 5-door hatchback or a 4-door sedan. During the Saab typically long construction period, the 9000 was continuously developed. While the first years of construction were susceptible to rust, this changed from 1991. In the following year, the Saab direct ignition "Trionic" was introduced as a Saab innovation. Injection, boost pressure and ignition are controlled by a 32-bit microprocessor.

Saab 9000 body and interior

The 9000 was not considered a "large car" in the USA for a reason. In terms of space economy, it is unbeatable and with a vehicle length of 4,76 meters in the 5-door version, it offers a lot of space in the interior. Although shorter and narrower than its successor, the Saab 9-5, the 9000 has a remarkable 14 centimeters more width in the interior. The body is superbly crafted and makes you aware of the high level cars were built in Trollhättan back then. As I said, rust is no longer a big issue from the 90s, but the rear wheel arches and the frame of the windshield are critical points.

Saab 9000 CSE fund, place without end
Saab 9000 CSE fund, place without end

The seats are according to Saab custom the best of the time, the materials in the interior are robust.

A lot of plastic is processed, but it is solid and honest. This shows that the 9000 comes from a different era. In contrast to today's cars, it never pretends to be something it is not. "Form follows function" - a Saab philosophy can be felt here. The dashboard comes from aircraft construction and is still, or again, a role model for successful ergonomics.

Saab 9000 CSE center console, automatic climate control, ZF-4 gear automatic
Saab 9000 CSE center console, automatic climate control, ZF-4 gear automatic

Comfort and air conditioning

The Saab 9000 is a long-haul car. Even at the moment, the noise level, with the exception of the wind noise of the A-pillar on fast stretches of the motorway, can be considered quiet, the suspension comfort is good. If you have a 9000 with automatic air conditioning, which, by the way, is CFC-free - because Saab was the first car manufacturer to only use CFC-free systems - and at that time took an extra charge of more than DM 5000,00 for it, you are well air-conditioned on the road. Seat heating is always on board, the leather chairs by Elmo, a Swedish manufacturer of the upper class, are high quality and adjustable in many ways. The leather is as thick as in a Rolls Royce and with a little care will last for many years without cracks.

Saab 9000 CSE cockpit, best ergonomics from the aircraft industry
Saab 9000 CSE cockpit, best ergonomics from the aircraft industry

landing gear

The 9000 is not a curve sweeper, today's cars are more active. Steering was considered precise at the time and is now felt to be slightly indirect. The suspension is soft and emphasizes the comfort character of the big Saab. But the chassis, rear with star axle, always safe and confident. Even higher motorized, the 9000 is not a racing car, but the extremely sovereign touring car, which is sometimes like quick sprints is not averse. ABS is on board, for Saab with manual transmission there is TCS as a traction aid. The TCS system tends to errors, the exchange is then not cheap.

Saab 9000 CSE, Trionic, Turbo
Saab 9000 CSE, Trionic, Turbo


The 9000 is almost always on the road with 4 cylinders with or without turbo. In later years, there was also a 6 cylinder sucker from GM, which was, however, not very popular and is therefore rare to find. The basis are the suckers with 126 to 140 PS, above that the soft turbo with 150 to 170 PS and the Vollturbo engines with 160 to 225 PS.

The icing on the cake is the 9000 Aero with the 2.3 liter full-turbo and 225 PS. The acceleration from medium speeds makes even today many company car driver with his TDI from the VW conglomerate green in the face. As confident as the 2.3 liter comes across, it has a drawback. All 2.3 liters are equipped with two balance shafts for a smoother running of the engine, which calls for overhaul or engine damage after one mileage of 200.000 KM.

The 2.0 liter engines are cheaper to maintain and considerably more robust - without balancer shafts. The engine run is not noticeably more restless, the performance with 130 HP as a vacuum or 150 HP as a soft turbo are of course not as impressive as that of the large engines. 2.0 liter engines with a mileage of several 100.000 KM are no problem.

Saab 9000 CSE, upper class, high quality Elmo leather
Saab 9000 CSE, upper class, high quality Elmo leather


Either a manual 5 gearbox or an 4 automatic transmission from ZF was available for the 9000. The 5 gearbox, a Saab development, is a bit bony, but fits in well with the 9000. The ZF automatic surprised by silky smooth shifting and is a bit rough only at full load. The 9000 as a comfort car, the automatic is more appropriate than the manual circuit.

Saab 9000 CSE, 3. Brake light from CSE
Saab 9000 CSE, 3. Brake light from CSE

equipment level

Saab 9000 90er years there was a CS in the five-door or CD in the sedan as a basic version. Above ranked CSE or CDE, the Aero or Aero Sport existed only in the five-door version. As a luxury top version, but with GM V6, there was the sedan in the Griffin version.

Particularly popular are the CSE or CDE versions, which already have a leather interior and automatic climate control on board. Even the paneling of the dashboard with real wood from California walnut was series. Even then the wood came from plantations certified according to ecological guidelines. CS or CD versions could buy these features.

The sportiest version, Aero or Aero Sport, was supplied with full leather trim and great sports seats. The seats were equipped as standard with electrical adjustment and memory.

The 9000 Griffin, always with automatic and 6 cylinder, was additionally upgraded with walnut wood on doors and center console to Nobel Sweden.

Saab 9000 CSE belt adjustment
Saab 9000 CSE belt adjustment


Vehicle safety is a Saab domain, which is why all Saab are equipped with ABS, airbag - later also with front passenger airbag - and side impact protection. Belt tensioners on the front seats are standard, as are the bumpers that repair themselves up to an impact speed of 8 km / h.

Saab 9000 CSE aircraft logo, embossed in leather
Saab 9000 CSE aircraft logo, embossed in leather

Which buy?

The 9000 was never a cheap car, but always a luxury class. A 96er Aero with automatic transmission now cost more than DM 86.000, the base with 2.0 liter suction cup in the CS version from DM 47.000. The 9000 has matured over the long construction period. Models from 1992 onwards are reliable and mature and therefore preferable. More popular - because more Saab - is the 5-door hatchback, which is also more elegant and practical than the notchback. The problem is to get a good copy, because they are becoming rare. Our Chancellor's feeble-minded abracking premium has ridiculously brought many good first- or second-hand copies from the market.

Saab 9000 CSE Safety: Tail lights in the doors
Saab 9000 CSE Safety: Tail lights in the doors

Due to the low price level, many 9000 were purchased by end users to then complete the next 100.000 KM without maintenance and care, but with a lot of repair backlog. These copies can be found on Ebay. Buying one of these specimens and putting them in better condition is currently not worthwhile considering the low 9000 prices.

If you are thinking of buying a 9000, you should buy a Saab with as complete a history as possible, if possible from first or second hand. These copies can always be found on or Autoscout. Then you have to be quick, because such Saab are sought after and often sold after less than 48 hours. Because - and this is a typical Saab problem - many owners of a 9000 did not want to separate and buy a 9-5. For years my Saab seller always complained about the old gentlemen, whom he didn't get to buy a 9-5. Logical, because the 9000 is a multi-purpose sedan, the Saab 9-5 is only a notchback.

Saab 9000 CSE comfort: air conditioning in the rear
Saab 9000 CSE comfort: air conditioning in the rear

A good 9000er can usually be recognized at first glance. An early indicator are the wipers of headlight cleaning. The engines like to give up the ghost, are then often not replaced. If the wipers are on 2 clock, the engine is usually defective. The care condition then often continues throughout the car.

The top engine with 2.3 liters and 200 or 230 PS is just great, but one should think of the problem of balancing shafts. The 2.0 liter soft turbo is the engine of reason, runs well over 200 and is low maintenance and reliable. If Saab then turbo, and if no turbo then by no means the GM V6, all 60.000 KM new timing belt wishes.

Saab 9000 CSE alloy wheels, 16 "
Saab 9000 CSE alloy wheels, 16 ″

If 9000 - then 9000 with leather and automatic climate control. The 9000 can hardly be sold later without leather, which also applies to the automatic climate control. Sunroof is not always recommended, the drains are often blocked and then cause bad rust.

Particularly popular are the Anniversary models of 1997 or the last year 1998. The level of equipment is then above average, the 9000er comes in the Aero Trim therefore as our model shown here.

The prices for good copies start at around € 3.500 and can rise to over € 6.000. This means that the level is still very low, but that will change as the “end-of-life” 9000s will now disappear from the scene. If you like the last Saab of the “pre-GM phase”, you should grab it now.


3 thoughts on "Saab 9000, the fast Swede from the upper class"

  • I can only agree with the previous speaker, myself 2 9000er, an Aero from 97 and a CD (2,3, Vollturbo) to keep alive. You should accompany me (now 57) for the rest of your life. Before I sit down in a vehicle of the current generation, possibly Audi oä. Misconceptions, I will go through my old Swedes on bending and breaking. Room for a larger spare parts warehouse is available, and will be filled gradually.
    At the moment I do not see a real alternative.

    Greetings from deepest Mecklenburg - Western Pomerania

    D. Sabatzki

  • To the management of Saab

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    I can be sorry if I read again in the car week that Saab continues to struggle with a bankruptcy. Saab in free fall! There is a lack of money and you are almost as usual today with the Chinese, who have already sold the old Saab equipment.

    I've been driving Saab (9000 Cs) for 23 years and just this week gave away my old Saab wistfully to an acquaintance who after 19's loyal years and 340 000 Km in my service, wants to finish TÜV and give him the Grace Bread. My car, which I mourn very much, is well maintained and still fully functional, but a few rust spots on the wheel arches make a repair by myself or an official garage unprofitable.

    I drive now a Subaru Legacy station wagon, alternatively, an Opel Insignia would have been possible and of course also a SAAB, if it was still built and available in the old style. But the future of Saab is so completely uncertain and the presentation or innards but largely equated with an Opel. Then you can also buy the and even cheaper with a larger dealer network.

    I have a new car now, but I still mourn my old Saab. He was just perfect for me. A chic green color. In 1992 there was still something like that at Saab, sunroof, very good seats with which I never got back pain, because "SAAB was at home on long journeys", a robust and safe car, this car gave you a good feeling as a pilot. Light-colored seats made of a fabric that did not smell unpleasant, as is so often the case with new cars today and that had not broken down even after decades, everything fit, was well thought out and well built, practical, innovative.

    In addition a technique, also rel. Economical in consumption, which could already be seen 20 years ago. This car had a feeling that was palpable and could be seen, that appealed to men's hearts and also had something for the family and everyday life. Saab was a car with and for the future ... It had character and individuality. One should have continued to spin that. You can see in me what kind of emotional connection a person can develop to his car. It wasn't a throw-away model, but a car with character, like a friend.

    Of course, good support in the Saab workshop played a crucial role. The people connected with it first create the trust, the relationship with such a car, which then has to meet and comply with its quality.

    Unfortunately, managers then took care of the company and the cars, where apparently only the profit counted. The shell remained, inside it became more and more Opel. The change in management was reflected in the character of this car and the customer unconsciously feels that. It was no longer the character of the Saab, the innovation, the future-oriented technology and a loyal customer base, but more superficial image, a lot of "chic". Sure, the convertible was chic and good, but there are many other companies too, as well as expensive cars that you want to define yourself by. It's not so much about perfection, but how you feel in your car!

    What we need today are reliable, affordable, economical, everyday cars that you feel comfortable in and that you like to have. Cars with character. Away from these standard cars in silver and black and, if possible, still black inside, which is persuaded to be practical. Where are the bright colors? Where is the feeling, the soul of the driver, the occupants. In a world full of constraints, people are still looking for a space where they can feel free, relaxed and comfortable and where they don't get a tool with which they can act out their aggressions, endangering people, the environment and being in exhausted his car. Stressed people still want to feel comfortable and safe somewhere today and in an affordable way. What good is the most expensive car if I don't have time to drive it, if I have to work harder for it…. Or everything becomes too complicated, exhausting.

    Saab is over at the end, but that can be the beginning for something new, when engineers and suitable managers think back to something:

    Innovation! We build cars for people! We give you character, individuality! (What many people do not have today anymore, they were attracted to you!

    If Saab could make that change: Innovative cars with character, for people, their needs, their emotions, economical and at an affordable price, then you will not have to worry about sales anymore. Then the money flows again and not only from the Chinese. But first Saab needs a background that allows you to act like that, to keep your back free and to people, technicians, engineers, managers who not only want to make money but also build good cars. GM was not the right partner. If he had not tied up so much, a man like Ratan Tata would come to my mind. And do not forget the new market between Europe and India. There lies the future, which must have a balance. There is not just China. But tell that to the lemmings when they're running.

    Yours sincerely, dr. W. Völckel

    • ... what is "unprofitable":

      To buy a new (or young used) car for significantly five-digit amounts, loss of value and all that again pay, or the good friend but then again give the body work?

      Unprofitable is something completely different ... the 9000 didn't really deserve to be given away.

Comments are closed.