It is May 2015 - a Friday evening. I'm on the plane from Stuttgart to Hamburg. My customers kept me busy until the last minute. Now finally I have a few days off. Two highlights will be waiting for me in the next 10 days. Firstly, my new SAAB 9-5 / 2, which I pick up the next day, and of course the SAAB Festival in Sweden.
The next morning a good friend drives me from Hamburg to Kiel to receive my 9-5 / 2 at the Lafrentz dealership. I had never "blindly" bought a car. I'm excited. My thoughts are constantly circling around the photos I know from the car. I copied it to my iPhone so that I could look at it at any time - which I also (feel) do permanently.
Images are one thing, reality is often the other. Especially me, who has to deal with pictures every day and knows exactly how far picture and reality can be apart. What does the car look like in real life? Is the positive impression that I have on the phone and from the pictures confirmed? Has Markus Lafrentz's team implemented all of my additional wishes? Backup camera? The mashed metallic center console? The perforated aero steering wheel? The Hirsch performance increase? A fresh service and TÜV / AU? Several phone calls preceded and I already had the feeling that I was annoying the boys in Kiel. Since the 9-5 / 2 inventory in relevant car exchanges is extremely manageable - always around 40 vehicles - you can usually not find exactly what you would like. Especially not if you prefer no V6 and no diesel. If you want an aero with manageable mileage and automatic: Have fun searching. This 9-5 / 2, however, now comes surprisingly close to my dream car.
Finally arrived we drive to the yard. And there he stands. All concerns are gone at once. That's mine. Point. The eyes are lit and I can hardly keep my permanent grin in check. I'm excited. The formalities are done in a jiffy and the signs brought quickly attached. Markus Lafrentz takes a lot of time to explain everything to me about the car. Yes, I feel I have done everything right. After almost two hours you go. Again in the direction of Hamburg. I start the engine and roll from the yard. Perfect! Until……
I had driven a 9-5 / 2 twice before. At that time, 2010, at the presentation of a V6 Aero on 19 inch rims with DriveSense and later again a Vector Biopower on 18 inch rims without DriveSense. Both cars were very comfortable. But what is that now? I did not expect such a hard chassis. Dust dry. Why only the previous owner did not cross the "DriveSense" option? He has otherwise set a hook almost everywhere!
OK. No matter. That's how it is now. Where there is light is always shadow. In my case, it is much more light and less shadow. You always have to make a compromise somewhere. Ultimately, I notice quickly on the highway, that the suspension is not so bad. Due to the hardness, the car is extremely binding. Especially at speeds beyond the 200 km / h, the car feels very safe.
The hard sports suspension somehow doesn't leave me alone. When driving through the city, I literally feel every manhole cover. One or the other certainly likes that - I don't like it. For me it just doesn't want to go with a car like this. Something in me refuses to accept that. I briefly consider using even smaller rims. 18 or maybe even 17 inches? But honestly - for an aero? Certainly not! I also find the 19-inch edge rims optically perfect for the car. Maybe install the softer Vector suspension? I don't know ... I like the feeling of the chassis at high speeds. So not a real option - in the end that would also be a compromise.
When I talk to Markus Lafrentz a few weeks later and casually tell him about the brittle chassis, the following sentence is said: "We can retrofit DriveSense soon." Have I just mistaken myself? I ask more closely. He explains to me in detail what is done with such an action and that the car has to be scheduled in the workshop for two and a half days. About - because he couldn't say it exactly, they had never done it before. Everything is only theoretical.
It's in me. For days, weeks. When I visit friends in Frankfurt, who also have a 9-5 / 2 Biopower Aero, I tell them about my DriveSense talk. Immediately I am asked if I want to drive her car. Then I can test it with the DriveSense. I agree. But now it is that this car is not a "real" Aero, but a rebuilt Vector. Everything was brought to the higher Aero equipment level. Rims, bumpers, even the seats, the steering wheel right up to the door sills. Only the chassis remained untouched. In addition, this is a vehicle with US specification. So it is certainly different tuned, as the vehicles for Europe. But at least now I have the opportunity to test the spreading of the modes. What is the difference between Comfort and Sport? In any case very noticeable. I "experience" that. However, the sport mode in this car is much more comfortable than my rigid aero sports suspension. If now my comfort mode would be like here the sport mode, then that would be an absolute blast and I would be more than satisfied ..
A few days later I get a call from Sweden. A friend is out there looking for a 9-5 / 2. He knows my car, has often driven and driven himself. Therefore, it should definitely not be an aero with him. The suspension is too hard. However, he had just test-driven an aero - a little bit for me to report. A biopower with DriveSense. I wonder excitedly: “UUUUUND ??? How does Comfort mode feel? ”His answer could not have been better:“ It feels the way you would expect from a car in this class. ”
I immediately pick up the phone and call Kiel. The appointment is then made quickly. Wednesday, 20. April 2016, 15 clock. 2,5 days are scheduled for me. But if the car is already there, a few things should be added to the chassis. A due software update, the brakes and of course the customer service. "No problem," they tell me. That fits.
Unfortunately, when I call Kiel again a few days earlier and ask for a new windshield around the corner, you can not fulfill this request. The time is simply too short and the workshop is currently too busy. Half an hour later, however, the phone rings and Markus Lafrentz just asks me: "You have the Lane Keeping Assistant and HeadUp display, right?" I agree and hear that only crazy people would work in the workshop. Then he ordered the right album, because the boys want to install them after work. Class!
On Wednesday, the 20. April, the time has come. It starts. 5 clock in the morning my partner and I start towards Kiel. We hope that nothing comes up and we get along well, because we not only have an appointment at 15 clock in the dealership, but later one with the Stena-Germanica in the direction of Gothenburg. So while the 9-5 / 2 stays in Kiel, it goes to Sweden with a workshop replacement car. The plan is for us to take the ferry back on Sunday evening and then get the upgraded 9-5 / 2 on Monday morning. We all find: A good plan.
Arriving in Kiel, we exchange the keys after a detailed gasoline conversation. 9-5 / 2 Biopower vs. 9-3 SC TID. The blue station wagon is clean and full. That's the way it has to be. That the 9-3 already has over 285.000 kilometers under its belt, you notice him in any way. We quickly became friends and at the end of the trip I realize that the station wagon has grown to my heart. The engine is quite sufficient, is well in the feed and is extremely economical. The transmission is not ausgenudelt, the chassis is designed for traveling rather than sports, nothing is worn out, abgeanzt or consumed. The navigation system is a bit lame, but in my opinion better by far than in my 9-5 / 2. And you have one thing above all: space.
Of course, the time in Sweden is also a bit "SAA". There is a trip to the SAAB Museum and "coincidentally" is a SAAB flea market on the day of the Trollhättan trip - as part of an open door event at INNOVATIUM. The AEROSEUM at Gothenburg City Airport turns out to be a real insider tip. Difficult to find because badly signposted, but you will be rewarded with hands-on SAAB military aircraft. Who hasn't always wanted to sit in a SAAB Draken or SAAB Viggen? No problem there. Countless military aircraft and helicopters stand in a branching, underground hangar. Not a high-gloss museum, but one you can touch. Oh yes, you can of course also admire a SAAB 99 friction tester 🙂
On Sunday evening we will go back to the ferry. The excursion was much too short - we would have loved to stay. On the other hand, the tension of the next day naturally increases immeasurably. Since my 9-5 / 2 is the first to have the DriveSense suspension retrofitted, there is no routine on the part of the workshop. Everything is clear in theory. And in practice? Are there complications? Will the car be ready? Did everything work as expected? The effort is very big. All shock absorbers are new. There is now a sensor on each of the dampers. Then the wiring to the new rotary switch in the center console. When everything is assembled, the programming comes. For this purpose, the software is read out, the new equipment programmed in Sweden and later played back on the car. In total, 8 control units are upgraded. Ultimately, you have to tell the car that it now has DriveSense. In addition to all the effort, there is the new windscreen, the new brakes all round, a complete inspection, a navigation update and a deer update. Oh man, I'm excited.
Sleep well and have breakfast in the stomach, then on Monday morning directly from the ferry to the workshop. Once there, I learn that my car is currently on a test drive. I am reassured that the time has been sufficient and our onward journey does not shift to the afternoon or evening. In the later discussion with the mechanic, it becomes clear again which effort is behind this and that a lot of overtime was necessary for the assembly. An effort that has paid off. In an introduction to the "new" system, I learn what is possible now. Steering, throttle and suspension get their own characteristics depending on the mode.
After almost an hour of SAAB talk, we finally start heading south again. I start the engine and roll from the yard. Perfect!
This time without the "except for ...", because I notice the difference in the first 10 meters. On the way back I test the three modes extensively and with childlike enthusiasm: Sport - Intelligent - Comfort. Yes, exactly SO (!) And nothing else must feel like a modern car in this class to me. Determined and direct in sport mode - comfortably soft but not spongy in comfort mode. The DriveSense chassis now turns my 9-5 / 2 into a comfortable touring car. Now it's the way I would have ordered it back then. Well, almost ... 🙂
Many thanks to the SAAB team in Kiel. I'm excited.
Thanks to Nico for his Saab story! Do you also have something to tell about Saab?
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