Cars we should not get: Saab 9-5 Sportkombi

Some things in Sweden could have gone better. For example, if Saab had presented the 9-5 sports car in parallel to the sedan. The quantities produced would have been higher and the future less cloudy. Because, to say it in advance, with the sports car would have had a product on par with Audi A6, Mercedes E class and 5er BMW.

Saab 9-5 sports combination on the beach of Warnemünde
Saab 9-5 sports combination on the beach of Warnemünde

Not better, but more individual and charming than the Ingolstadt, more stylish than the Mercedes and more understated than the BMW. But one after anonther. Our one-week test drive, which unfortunately and unpredictably became a very exclusive test, took place with a Saab 9-5 TTiD XWD Aero sports car, which would have cost more than 60.000 € in the full equipment. What would have been a very competitive price with regard to the German competitors.

The 190 PS four-wheel-drive diesel gets on better with the heavy 5-meter-long car than you think. Part of that is the well-graded, manual 6 gearbox; an automatic transmission would not have existed. What is incomprehensible, because all-wheel drive and powerful diesel would have been the optimal combination with automatic. Because it's a long-haul car built as a business jet for those on the highways every day.

Saab 9-5 sports car, the rear is important
Saab 9-5 sports car, the rear is important

The Saab plays this role perfectly, and during the week when I traded from dealer to dealer with the 9-5, it became a pleasant and unobtrusive companion. The seats in the 9-5 Aero are great, the suspension has been retuned for the 2012 model year, leaving the Drive-Sens switch in the normal position.

The Drive-Sense switch is for everyone with the play instinct of the big boys. In addition to the “Intelligent Mode”, which suits all situations, there is also “Sport” and “Comfort”. In sports fashion, the sports suit makes you look like a racing car. Because in addition to the suspension settings, the response behavior to the accelerator pedal also changes. The engine is more biting but also more nervous on the gas and reacts more spontaneously.

In comfort mode, the 9-5 lapses, glides along like a big Citroen and spreads a bit of comfort. No matter which mode you choose, you drive like on rails. Responsible for this is the four-wheel drive, which would have been equipped in model year 2012 for all Aero versions with e-LSD.

Saab 9-5 sports suit, rear flap to open electrically
Saab 9-5 sports suit, electric tailgate to open

The e-LSD is not a drug, but an electronic differential that distributes the slip between the wheels according to the XWD. In contrast to most systems from other manufacturers, the differential at Saab is always preloaded and can thus react faster than other all-wheel drive systems. You notice what you get from it in everyday operation. Because you notice - nothing. On the way on wet cobblestones you can accelerate without hesitation, the propulsion is perfect. So perfect that you forget to be on the road with a four-wheel drive Saab.

If you are out and about with the Saab troop and Saab boss Jan-Philipp Schuhmacher, you get the opportunity to test the cars in construction pits or on fine sand. Because, as it should be, the Saab management in Germany “learns” all model versions in order to send reports and suggestions for improvement to Sweden. Therefore, we can say that the Saab all-wheel drive system is also a great thing off the beaten track.

A station wagon is a station wagon, is a station wagon. The rear is important, that's what counts. And since I have the Opel Insignia tailgate, a badly designed barn door, in mind, the "rear" of the 9-5 sports suit was particularly important to me.

Electric tailgate opening with pre-selectable opening height
Electric tailgate opening with pre-selectable opening height

But at Saab one did not make the mistake that was made in Rüsselsheim. The Saab tailgate is not as oversized as that of the Insignias and can be opened both by remote control and from the interior. There are different opening heights and thus also a garage opening, in order not to collide with missing gate height with the gate of the garage. The U-Rail system, known from the Saab 9-5 sedan, is really playing out its strengths in the station wagon. By moving the telescopic rods in each direction, it is the optimal solution for sensitive cargo. Travel bag and photo equipment in, fixed with the U-Rail system in seconds and off you go!

Saab 9-5 Sporkombi, lots of space, low sill, U-rail
Saab 9-5 sports estate, plenty of space, low sill, U-rail

And our journey is going very quickly. The test station wagon, a model from the pre-production series, presented itself as a tired Swede for the first few kilometers from Trollhättan. Probably because of the boring test drives on the speed-limited country roads in Smaland and Västragötland. With every kilometer on German autobahns, it became livelier and more powerful. The specification states that it has a maximum speed of 225, which is in line with our GPS measurements. If the station wagon had gone into series production and there had been a model year 2012, our Swiss friends would also have had a performance cure on offer.

Much has been written about the handiness of the Saab 9-5. With a length of over 5 meters, it is a big car, the question is how suitable a station wagon can be for everyday use. In narrow parking lots, one or the other bad thought occurred to me about this 5 meter Swedish engineering. Because 5 meters is an announcement, but after a few days you get used to it. The best test, but only for strong nerves, is a parking garage. A particularly nasty, rotten parking garage from the 60s is in Berlin, not far from Kuhdamm. It's tight, very tight and I think drivers of an Audi A4 or 3 Series BMW have to be careful. Millions of traces of paint on the walls and pillars speak for themselves, and it was a ride that you won't forget anytime soon.

Saab 9-5 Sports Suit, Head-Up Display
Saab 9-5 Sports Suit, Head-Up Display

Of course it is with these car parks so that all parking decks are occupied, only the very high up, they are free. So go up and down over many floors with a 5 Meter pre-production car where nothing is allowed to happen. It works, it is even very fast. The head-up display draws dramatic flashes as a warning of the imminent collision, the cart produces a sound cacophony without limits. Unfortunately, unfortunately, there is no switch to turn this stuff off. So ears to and through. High without a scratch, down very fast, even without a scratch. 5 meter Swedish steel and suitable for everyday use? In any case.

Which brings us to the head-up display. Also in the Aero with 1000,00 € it would be a recommendation that you have to take. I have to say because the head-up display makes sense especially in the Saab. Night flight over the highway. Nightpanel on, navigation and everything relevant on the display. Night flight can be so relaxed. Born from the jets, reload ...

The 9-5 sports car would be a competitive car, one with potential for conquest. A car for those who are too embarrassed by the Audi fairy lights and flashbacks, who do not like the restless design of the Mercedes E-Class or who want a little more restraint than BMW's products.

Active rear view camera in the Saab 9-5 sports trolley
Active rear view camera in the Saab 9-5 sports trolley

But also a car with weaknesses in detail. Weaknesses, with which one can live, because they are the price for the individuality of a small series manufacturer. The navigation system is too slow and unmotivated, there are now better solutions. The can holders in the center console are annoying when you drive a 9-5 with manual gearshift. The good, old, fold-out cup holders made of 9-5 I and Saab 9-3 were a clever idea and would have suited this car. That's it! Small details that would be outweighed by numerous improvements of the vintage 2012 but.

The question of all questions, and it is quite delicate, I conclude. Is the Saab 9-5 sports suit a real Saab? Since I celebrate my 20-year Saab anniversary this year and know almost the entire model history, the response is not easy.

Let me put it this way: the 9-5 sports suit is a real Saab. However, softener, compatible with the usual premium manufacturers. A Saab with conquest potential, suitable for everyday use, a pleasant and comfortable companion for every day. Subdued in design, not fashionable, but modern. Long-lasting and still beautiful, if in many years the competitors have long since made the final round somewhere in Africa.

So, yes, the 9-5 sports suit is a true Saab.


16 thoughts on "Cars we should not get: Saab 9-5 Sportkombi"

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    Hi Tom! Read your reports now almost 6 months every day and always fancy with! Absolutely great! Keep it up !!!! For me, the Saab 95 SC is also a hammered vehicle !!! Congratulations to your Turbo X !!!! But one thing I must do is drive the saab 93 sc with stag step1 myself and I am almost happy, the only thing that concerns me is 11,5 l in a moderate driving field !!!! But I think that it is still a bit more with you !!!! Nevertheless, all the best with your toy and keep it up !!!!

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    Thanks for the super report.
    It was planned to order this last autumn.
    I am very satisfied with the current 9-5 chrome frame, my first Saab.
    I wait and hope ...


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    The 9-5 (with or without a station wagon) is one of the most beautiful cars there is at the moment ...!

    I'm still saving 1-2 years, then I'll make 9-3II out of my 9-5II, that's for sure =)

    Tom? I envy you!


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    Hey Tom;
    lucky you. Our "new one" may come on Monday ...

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    The Saab 9-5 SC is really a great car.
    When I saw him in Bremen, I was immediately thrilled ** and of course he would have preferred to take it with me as well.
    For that I would have liked our 9-5 SC 2.3t Arc (unfortunately only 4 cylinder with 185 PS) of 2002 on the farm!

    In terms of seeing, sitting and feeling it was a “real Saab” (apparently also from driving) and probably really 1-2 generations ahead of the old SC.

    Only 2 small criticisms I would have had after the presentation:
    1: 5m are really very much (I would have also 4,8m enough)
    2: for taller people (I'm 190cm) the entry is a bit low at the back (but it does not matter, I'm in the front left)

    ** (but I have to admit that on the evening of the 9-4x I was even more excited about the look, length, features and price)

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      Hey mac9-5
      But I would not have given it. No way!
      We wanted to continue that evening to the hotel. And the next day back to FFM.
      LG Mark

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        Yes, I almost feared something like that! ;-( ;-(

        Now the 9-5'er has to hold out, Saab builds cars again !!!
        (I still feel very strong about that)

        Next week, for example, I will finally fix the partially defective climate display!
        (Instead of exchanging the whole unit for well over € 700, I now only have the display exchanged by a "specialist" for less than € 200 - thanks to the nice advice from my "free" Saab workshop)

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          Alright. I do not want to be like that.
          Tom and I would have you to H…. taken away; o)

          But honestly. As a SC, the 9-5II is light years ahead of the old model (whether with or without "Crombrille"). I can only confirm Tom's descriptions of driving, especially in narrow parking garages (here: under the Hilton in Bremen).
          But more about that later ... Tom?
          : o) Mark

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            Push nice, I have to allow my Turbo X now. Your article comes tomorrow ... 😉

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    How is the new 9-5 station wagon compared to the old 9-5 I? Even without chrome glasses? I think the old 9-5 I is a real Saab, at least for me. That would interest me, unfortunately we cannot “experience” it as uninitiated.

    LG Phil.

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      The comparison is difficult and actually almost impossible. Because there are two vehicle generations between 9-5 I and 9-5 II and the 9-5 II plays in a different league, not only in size. I once wrote that the direct transition from the 9-5 II to the 9-5 I (chrome frame) is something of a cultural shock, because the first few meters are hard, and it stands out how comfortable and big the 9-5 II is in direct comparison is. That's why it's all a bit unfair.

      But, after a few kilometers you like the good old 9-5 again and everything will be fine ... 😉

      However: there was once the 9-5 I as "ARC" with a V6 engine and automatic. Yes, yes, the V6 was never very popular, but it is a nice engine with a lot of power and comfort. A good friend drives one, his Saab is built in 2002 or 03. Thanks to the V6, the 5-speed automatic and the high-quality equipment (ventilated seats etc ..) the "Arc" can still keep up ...

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        Hi Tom,
        many thanks. I also have to say that my mouth watered with the beautiful new station wagon, that would be exactly mine the way it looks. It's a pity. I need a diesel business jet with a switch, I don't like automatic, I'm more of a sports driver. The range of switches is getting thinner and thinner in the upper class, leaving almost only Saab and BMW. That would be exactly the right car for me, I also find the station wagon really harmonious with the 9-5 II, then the dignified equipment and the comfort mode. I'm a former Citroen driver, I appreciate the gliding, and before the Saab XM and C5, I also had a Xantia. My 9-5 I Kombi 2,2 TiD Vector with full equipment without automatic from 2002 can also glide well, only the engine is loud on the highway ...

        LG Phil.

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    It was ordered exactly as tested, TTID XWD Aero, only in white color with the dark 10-spoke edge rims, dark discs and all available extras ...

    One thing is certain: The car would have been my absolute dream car and the eye-catcher in the village, in terms of style superior to any other station wagon by far!

    But: It shouldn't be ... or should it, soon? I can wait ... and as long as I am satisfied with my 9-5 II sedan, which is also great!

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    Yes, he came too late and the boardrooms have to answer, at least it was
    in Central Europe in a high percentage of the predecessor station wagons and not the Limo ... ..
    but let us surprise ourselves with the future

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    Hey Tom;

    Congratulations on this great report (and also on TurboX). When I think of the two days of the tour ... We should have just taken the station wagon with us: o)

    LG Mark

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    Finally it says one thing: I can absolutely sign the first sentences of the blog article! The rest anyway, and yes, as a chrome eyewear driver, I think it's a real killer SAAB.
    The vehicle would have been my dream car (?), The perfect company car away from the mainstream, indisputably this would have been guaranteed my vehicle from Jan'13 (?).
    The fact that the SportKombi came later - too late - was actually the mistake, whoever was to blame, you only had to look at the sales figures and registrations of the previous 9-5 in relation to the sedan. I don't want to know how many meetings there were on this decision - just use common sense! Since the highly paid GM managers have not been trusted to do this for a long time, there is really no need to be surprised. Seen in this way, everything can only get better if there is a future, but if you don't have Detroit.

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