Saab review: 40.000 kilometers with the Saab 9-5 Biopower

Saab 9-5 2.3t Vector Biopower "Anniversary"
Saab 9-5 2.3t Vector Biopower "Anniversary"

Our Saab 9-5 2.3t Anniversary Biopower sports suit was anything but a gut decision. After my Saab dealer at the time slept through the order date for a new anniversary model and we could not agree on the price of a storage vehicle, the dealer - customer relationship failed due to a few euros. Bad for the dealer, who has now sold a few new Saab less and has had to forego several workshop sales.

A real Saab fan cannot be shaken by this. A little later my current 9-5 was on the farm, bought from the bankruptcy estate of a renowned Saab dealer. There were a few compromises to be made, but the Anniversary Saab is acceptably equipped and - that was important - it is a biopower.

Saab 9-5 2.3t Vector Biopower, "Anniversary" rims
Saab 9-5 2.3t Vector Biopower, "Anniversary" rims

Driving with ethanol was my main focus, especially as an E85 gas station is around the corner with me. The first few miles from the Saab dealer were still driven with fossil fuel, then ethanol came into the tank. Since then, ethanol has been fueled to 95%.


The Saab 9-5 of the first series comes from the last millenium. You can tell, was the 9-5 sports car in his debut as a big car, so he is today in the perception rather petite. Nevertheless, you have enough space, the 9-5 is clear and not too wide. Parking garages are no problem.

The sill of the station wagon is low, the loading floor flat, the lashing system offers many ways to safely transport luggage. A sticking point on the Saab 9-5 of the first series is the processing that does not live up to expectations. In many places you notice the red pencil of the GM era, some materials are not as they should be. That's all there is to the Saab 9-5. Because in addition to this minus point, he has many pluses.

inner space

The seats in the Saab 9-5 are as always first cream, you sit comfortably even over long distances. After a trip from Bavaria to Sweden you get out without any back pain, so good is the long-distance quality. The air conditioning with the automatic air conditioning is without objection, the leather seats front and rear are heated. Everything is logically arranged where it should be.

Saab 9-5 2.3t Vector Biopower, "Anniversary" Bi-Color leather
Saab 9-5 2.3t Vector Biopower, "Anniversary" Bi-Color leather

Chassis / comfort

The standard chassis of the Saab 9-5 Vector sports suit is designed for comfort. Too soft in curves, to my liking. But foolproof in any situation. ABS and ESP are on board, both very well coordinated. The Saab traditionally has front-wheel drive. This is harmoniously tuned in the Saab 9-5, the power only pulls on the steering wheel at full power and when accelerating out of corners. The chassis was too gentle for me, too much of a family station wagon. So out with it, put in a deer landing gear. More on that later.

The Saab 9-5 sports trolley is a quiet car, even at higher speeds on the highway. Current designs, bigger and heavier, are even better insulated. Nevertheless, one will feel the 9-5 as comfortable. On the way on long distances, as befits a Saab.


The Saab 9-5 is equipped with an 5 gearbox from its own production. A gear that does not exist anymore at Saab, the rights were sold to China. The gearbox is good to switch, although you want a sixth gear, but also lives well with 5 gears.

Saab 9-5 2.3t Vector Biopower, loading area
Saab 9-5 2.3t Vector Biopower, loading area


The 2.3 liter 4 cylinder is equipped with the Saab own Trionic and comes as the gearbox from our own production. Again, the engines were sold to the People's Republic, the engine is no longer at Saab. Too bad, and for several reasons. The engine is one of the highlights on the Saab 9-5.

Equipped with balancer shafts, it runs very smoothly and barely audibly in petrol mode. If you refuel the E85, the run becomes rougher and the combustion noise becomes louder. However, this is not annoying, because the 2.3 liter has a beautiful sound that is reminiscent of a 5-cylinder in-line engine.

Even the Trionic is now history at Saab, the luxury of its own direct ignition you can not afford more. Since model year 2012 the Trionic is also with the Saab 9-3 series past, because all gasoline engines were converted to direct injection.

That's a pity, because the Trionic is the optimal solution for a multi-fuel engine. The ignition recalibrates after each refueling process to check the fuel quality. If there is a high-octane engine in the tank, the engine will output more power. In our case 210 PS in E85 operation. With super fuel, it's just 185 PS, but felt only maximum 150 horsepower.

Much more than the difference of 25 PS suggests, the character of the machine changes in ethanol operation. The Saab is literally on the gas and happy about the biofuel. Properly motivated, he storms forward. The long-stroke Agregat, which has been graced by the concept, is experiencing a second spring.

Disillusionment arises, if you are fueled by the extensive network of petrol stations, fossil fuel. The Saab then has only 185 hp - and the temperament of a traveling dune. An unsustainable condition.

But there is help from Switzerland. Rene Hirsch has for our Saab what Viagra is for Hugh Hafner. Also more about that later.

Saab 9-5 2.3t Vector Biopower, tail light
Saab 9-5 2.3t Vector Biopower, tail light

We managed to drive with E85 even in winter - and only with E85. Already in summer the starting process with E85 is a bit tougher than with petrol, the engine still needs a few meters to hang clean on the gas. If the temperature drops below the 0 point, it becomes critical. The solution for ethanol drivers is the engine block heater, without which you cannot drive a Flexifuel car in Central Europe.

The Saab hangs from the outlet overnight, the engine block stays warm. The boot process is no problem in the early morning. Pleasant side effect of the heater, a warm interior and lightning-fast free slices.

If the Saab Biopower then stands a few hours in a frosty environment without heating, that is no problem either. The Swede always started without problems even after many hours.

The consumption of the Saab 9-5 was highly fluctuating, depending on the gas foot and the discipline of the driver. Which is difficult, because in ethanol mode, the turbo is really fun. So we had on Swedish highways consumption between 8 and 9 liters with E85, in Germany in the mix consumption values ​​between 12 and 13 liters of ethanol. With gasoline one will consume in Germany between 9 and 10 liters.

After 30.000 kilometers we had to ask the question to drive or sell the 9-5. Because the soft chassis and the performance slump in gasoline operation was not my thing. Hirsch Performance offers the alternative, with a firmer suspension tuning and an increase in performance. We have chosen our friends from Switzerland.

How E85 can handle a deer upgrade and how good the deer chassis and other Swiss trifles are can be read in the sequel.


Even more Saab reviews:

Saab 9-5 TTiD4 Vector XWD

Saab 9-3 TTiD4 Aero Sports Suit

Saab 9-3 TTID4 sedan

Saab 9-5 BioPower 2.3t Deer Performance

7 thoughts on "Saab review: 40.000 kilometers with the Saab 9-5 Biopower"

  • blank

    Hello SAAB community.
    Also we have now bought a 9-5 SportCombi, model 2008, automatic, 2,3 Biopower.
    We also have an E 85 gas station in the next town.
    I'll test how he likes the alcohol.
    How about the continuation of this topic: Deer tuning, etc. I'm also interested in ...
    Greetings from the North Sea.
    Frank (since 1989 SAAB driver out of conviction)

    • blank

      Hello Frank,

      Congratulations on your new Saab. BioPower is a good decision and you can read the sequel tomorrow ...

      Greetings to the north


    • blank

      Hello Frank,

      is the E85 tank by any chance Mettjes in Jever or Schortens ...?

      Greetings from the exile friezes

  • blank

    Hi Tom

    nice and interesting report!
    I have now 30.000 trouble-free km in the 2.0l Biopower (the deceptive also comes on 220 PS) behind me and can only confirm your experience in all points.
    Hopefully the 9-5 will continue to serve our family for a long time ...


  • blank

    Hey there!

    Great report, very nice car!

    Hmmm, only the info about BioPower make me a bit more skeptical.
    - socket overnight in winter (with engine block heating)
    - decline in performance
    (thinner gas station network would not have bothered me so much, but next gas station is already about 15km away)

    I would love to drive an “environmentally friendly” car next, but
    - I don't think hybrid cars are necessarily an ideal solution
    - Unfortunately, electric cars are not yet too suitable for everyday use (doesn't the ePower have a range of around 200km? That would be too little for me.)

    Of course, I would prefer a Saab again (and most likely an 9-5 Sportcombi, also because of the ventilated seats, now less a 9-4x).
    But either it would then be a “classic” gasoline engine (will it still be “up to date” in the future) or a BioPower car with (as described above) said smaller “restrictions”.

    Hmm ... let's see what the coming months will bring!

    • blank

      Moin mac95!

      The new 9-5 no longer has a Trionic and therefore no loss of performance (or gain). Instead, direct injection and twin scroll turbo 🙂 The “socket” creates a warm interior and clear windows after a few meters. If you don't like it, you have to fill up with super. I haven't yet driven a current (new) 9-5 with ethanol, but maybe it will someday ...

      LG Tom

      • blank

        Ah OK.
        Thanks for the info.

        Let's see if I can test sometime before the next car purchase times a current BioPower !?
        I would be interested in that ...

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