The young, sporty savage - Saab 9-5 in the secret test

It's August 1996. The development of the 9-5 is nearing its end. Somewhere in Sweden a member of the performance team is on his way to the secret base in his Saab 96. The last tests are pending. So begins a film that Saab launched as a teaser for the new 9-5. It's typical of the 90s. And it reveals what we have missed.

The young sporty savage - Saab 9-5 in the secret test
The young sporty savage - Saab 9-5 in the secret test

The 90s. The iron curtain is gone, the Soviet Union history. A man who plays the saxophone and likes jazz rules the White House. The world seems to be on the way to becoming a better place. Donald Trump is grappling with debt, and the option of becoming the 45th President of the United States seems grotesque. Likewise, the Chinese fantasies of omnipotence, which become reality just 3 decades later.

And in Sweden they are building a wild car

The new 9-5 is considered a wild design by Saab. Brave and sporty. He should lead the brand into a new age. What they put on the wheels in Trollhättan is indeed remarkable. You can still feel the desire for the 9-5 and the ambition to build an excellent car when you talk to the now very old team members from back then.

Accordingly, they are making a film that now looks like something out of the clothes box. 007 and Golden Eye inspire, many computers stand for innovation, the Saab Performance Team for sportiness. The team puts mysterious, matt gray painted vehicles through their paces. The video highlights the outstanding chassis, which the Swedish trade press praises as a miracle chassis, and the sporty demands.

The Saab 9-5 and really sporty

Take off your branded glasses! At the premiere there was the 9-5 with 150, 170 and 200 hp. Sporty? The old Saab 9000 delivered more. The 9-5 Aero was added with a slight delay. Finally 230 HP, but only 5 more to the 9000 Aero. But more weight. Was that all you could do in Trollhättan back then?

For one, the first 9-5 Aero (Series 1) shouldn't be a sports model. Saab saw in it a comfort-emphasized addition to the offer, with a slightly sporty attitude. The alternative to the V6, addressed to the traditional Saab audience, for whom the 6 cylinder might have been too bourgeois.

The Saab was sporty and never existed

A quick look over his shoulder. At the time, the Volvo V70 R was rolling out of the halls in Gothenburg. 250 hp, all-wheel drive. In the wake of the eternal rivalry between Saab and Volvo, the Stallbacka was looking for a suitable answer. The super sporty Saab 9-5, which would be offered as the top model after the Aero.

It was clear that you had to deliver more than your colleagues at Volvo. All-wheel drive was considered set and at least 280 hp. Other sources tell of 300 that one wanted to get out of the charged 2.3 liter engine. After the Saab 9-3 Viggen it was planned to push the 9-5 Viggen onto the runway. To make it clear how the trolls build their cars.

The only thing was that they hadn't done the math with GM

It was the first time the liaison with GM took revenge. The modified GM9 platform was used for the 5-2902. In principle, she could do anything. Front and rear wheel drive, and of course 4 driven wheels. In order to realize the Saab 9-5 Viggen, you needed the consent of the Americans. They refused to agree. They generally closed the 2900 family to four-wheel drive fantasies of any kind. The Viggen story ended up in the container.

From the dream - that should take revenge

The super-sporty Saab 9-5 never took off. From then on, the sporting Swedish crown stayed in Gothenburg forever. Even if they always built the more active cars in Trollhättan - the image suffered tremendously. In Gothenburg, however, they sparked the next stage of expansion with the following generation. 300 hp and four-wheel drive, there was no antidote. Even the strong Hirsch versions did not stand out, the lack of 4 driven wheels remained an eternal drawback.

That took revenge. The sporty image faded, a few years later, Saab was considered a leisurely brand for the older audience in Swedish surveys.

Everything could have been so much nicer and sportier.

11 thoughts on "The young, sporty savage - Saab 9-5 in the secret test"

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    @ Ebasil (brochures),

    Thank you for the nice offer. But I already have so many archives professionally and privately ...

    I just try to find out more about the next service. My friend is almost surly when it comes to making appointments and delivering them (has a lot to do), but is always more chatty when you pick them up.

    I find the question of when which deer (if ever) already ran off the tapes in Troll City as such?

    With the Aero (chrome glasses 9-5), software was not enough. A larger turbocharger and larger brakes were installed, which in turn required larger rims. So it would make sense to do this ex works, instead of converting brand new vehicles after shipping but in advance of their delivery in local service companies - throwing out a number of new parts (!) Immediately ...

    Exciting topic with a lot of question marks. Thanks again for the offer.

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    Volvaab - Deer in the prospectus

    I also have brochures and price lists from that time in which Hirsch is listed, but for the 9-3 series. Interest?

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    @ Capri73 (official deer),

    that is interesting. Thank you. I would like to know more about the subject. So when and why which deer made it into the prospectus and why so many others didn't?

    For me, the Saab-Hirsch-GM relationship is an exciting love triangle that I just can't figure out. I have more questions than I could or would like to put in a comment ...

    I am grateful for every piece of the puzzle that sheds a little light on the darkness.

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    @ Volvaab Driver: In the 2003 model year, the deer version of the Saab 9-5 was also quite normal
    With 305 PS and 420 Nm in the official Saab price list with the technical data !!!

    @ Tom: there was the 2900 platform with all-wheel drive in the Opel Vectra 4 * 4 and Opel Calibra 4 * 4.
    Maybe only the four-wheel drive was blocked for Saab ?!

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      @ Capri73 There was a time when they were blocked in principle. The Swedish AMS wrote about it a few years late. Vectra and Calibra were launched earlier.

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    Such an image carrier would certainly have done Saab and the 9-5 well.

    A deer aero does not have the same charisma as a production vehicle, is not in any brochure and is ignored by motor journalists in comparison tests.
    As a brand ambassador, something like that flies completely under the radar and that without XWD at last with 300 PS (chrome glasses) and influences on the steering forces during acceleration.

    An image carrier in series would have positively influenced the perception of the brand and boosted sales. That was the case with Volvo. The 850 and V70 went like sliced ​​bread. Especially with front-wheel drive and 140 or 170 hp ...

    Saab had the 9-5 as a 2.0t and 2.3t with front-wheel drive and 150 and 185 hp respectively, and was theoretically well represented in the segment. Unfortunately, it is of no use to have equal or better volume models if you don't have the right image to bring them to women and men.

    At Saab they had apparently recognized that. Was GM too stupid or malicious? I have still not found a conclusive AW on this question.

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    It's a shame that you haven't done much more with the Saab. XWD and TID might have been in the 9-5I

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    Hi Tom,

    unfortunately I can't watch this film either, I always get the answer
    "The response from took too long"


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    First this article, then the video ...

    My eyes are now latently moist. It's awesome what you've done. And sad that you had so much more in your drawer than you could bring onto the street ...

    Very, very emotional, even years after the bankruptcy. I am moved and touched. Thanks Tom.

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    As always, an exciting piece of SAAB history, thank you!

    Yes, the lack of all-wheel drive drove me to buy the 9-7x, I would probably never have done it if the 9-5 had been with all-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is an advantage in the mountains in winter. 300PS was also available in the 9-7x, only the sportiness is not there. Well with the 9-5NG there was almost everything ... unfortunately no CS like with the 9000er.

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