Opinion : Anything we can do… they can do worse? – Saab 9-5

Keith Adams ruminates about some of the not-so-great cars sold by British Leyland’s competitors – and wonders why it’s still so fashionable to knock our once-great nationalised carmaker even though its mistakes were echoed across the wider industry.

Here, in the third article of this occasional series, we look at the second-generation Saab 9-5 and compare its fortunes with the Rover 75. Were we really that bad?


Saab 9-5: Killed before its time

Saab 9-5

Timing, as they say, is everything. Get it right and the world goes with you as one – cock it up, and you’ll be fighting all the way. Consider the second-generation Saab 9-5 and the events that rumbled on in the background while it was launched and it’s no wonder that the Trollhättan manufacturer’s last chance saloon failed to succeed after such a promising start. As they say, misery loves company, and the 9-5’s production figures put the model alongside some seriously unsuccessful cars.

The Saab 9-5’s lack of commercial success cannot, of course, be entirely blamed on events – we’ll delve into that in a moment – but there’s no doubt the writing was on the wall after almost two decades of General Motors (GM) mismanagement of this innovative Swedish marque. The product itself wasn’t unpromising – it was built on the Global Epsilon II platform which underpinned some very interesting and capable vehicles spanning the Vauxhall Insignia, Cadillac XLS and even the Roewe 950.

Launched at the Frankfurt International Auto Show in September 2009, the writing was already on the wall, as it became clear that GM wanted rid of Saab, allowing the vultures to circle. Within months we knew the company’s fate – Spyker bought Saab on 26 January 2010 literally as the new generation Saab 9-5 was being readied for production in Trollhättan. Introduction followed in April, we had out first drives weeks later and, although many reports compared it unfavourably with its German rivals, there was more than enough Saabishness to make it an appealing proposition – even if its American underpinnings made it inappropriately sized for the UK market.

Saab 9-5

Not that much of this mattered. Production of the 9-5 ended months later, in March 2011, with a mere 11,280 rolling off the line in Trollhättan – and, with it, that was that. The Saab 9-5 was dead.

So, Saab 9-5 or Rover 75?

If we’re speaking Last Chance saloons, the Rover 75 (and MG ZT)  proved far more successful – it its six-year production run, more than 200,000 were made, with around 20,000 left on UK roads today. In reality, the two cars aren’t directly comparable, they didn’t cross in the new car price lists, and were also in different market sectors – and the Saab’s considerably larger…

However, their positions in their respective makers’ histories are pretty much the same, encompassing the hopes and aspirations for a future that was denied them. In the case of the Rover 75 and MG ZT, it was afforded time on the market and some development – so we enjoyed the V8 versions and the arrival of the Tourer version. The 75 and ZT also enjoyed some European sales and, because a reasonable amount were sold, there are enough left now to ensure a vibrant Owners’ Club scene which is successfully seeing the models transition into classic car status.

Saab 9-5-Sportkombi

Saab’s ownership under Spyker lasted far less time than MG Rover’s under Phoenix. So there was no development afforded to it. Just like the Rover 75, the Saab 9-5 range was designed to encompass an estate-bodied Sportkombi version, which didn’t make it into production as events conspired against it. A few of these Sportkombis have made it into the wild and they look fantastic, affording a tantalising insight into the Saab’s future life we were denied. As it was, both makers’ destinies lay in China.

Thus, in commercial terms, the Rover/MG outshone the Saab and by a considerable margin for the reasons stated above. It’s also likely that the British car was more profitable given that Spyker’s Saab would have been privy to licensing payments for its technology to General Motors. The 75/ZT also came part way to sharing its underpinnings with the all-new mid-sized MG Rover RDX60, which might have afforded its maker some kind of future. It’s unlikely that would have happened to the 9-5.

Still, the question remains: was the Saab 9-5 worse than the Rover 75? As stated they’re not strictly comparable, other than being ‘Last Chance Saloons’ but, given the choice between an example of the pair, it’s hard not to argue for the Saab. It’s good to drive, still feels modern in a way the Rover never did, and it turns more heads, too. However, as a classic car to own and run on British roads today, the 75 definitely gets the nod thanks to good parts availability and club support – even more so, if it’s a V8.

Having said that, a vibrant Saab scene means you’ll always be welcome at any events in a 9-5 – especially an Aero. Decisions, decisions…

Saab 9-5

Keith Adams

37 Comments

  1. I think most of the small number of 9-5s available are diesel, and therefore a future where they can be used is going to be short lived. Not so long ago, diesel Rover 75s had quite a large premium over the V6 versions, this has swapped over quite significantly now, with the diesels being less desirable than the 1.8 petrol.

    I like the SAAB, but let’s not kid ourselves, it’s the rarity and the last-SAAB status that makes it special, not the car itself. The Rover 75 however was.specoal from the day it first rolled off the production line.

  2. If I wuold choose, it wuold be 9-5 Aero Hircsh (Saab’s only factory approved tuner). 2.8 -litre V6 turbo gives 330hv and goes like a hell. Saab is better drive, looks todays car and it works also in Scandinavian winter circumstances. Saab was ahead of it’ time if talk about engine’s, engine management systems and safety. Saab has large enthusiast clubs and parts are quit well available plus clubs has own production. Technically Saab has been sold to China, but not the brand ( like Rover). Saab brand owner is Saab AB (Swedish aeroplane manufacturer ..Grippen, Draken, Viggen fighters). Everything started from the planes and planes it also ended.

  3. Agree with Andrew. Also note both Rover 75 an 9-5 had public image issues caused by ownership at launch – the 75 had poor Bernd Pichetsreider fuming publically after UK govt refused to support them, which hurt public trust that Rover would survive and hence hurt 75 sales; similarly Saab ownership swap dented public confidence in Saab’s future, especially in a model like 9-5 so reliant on underpinning GM parts (same problem as the Rover 45).

    It didn’t help that MG Rover never addressed the need to get offshore assembly plants in cheaper anglo nations like NZ (for Asia, Pacific, US west coast markets), as the UK’s high exchange rate has always hurt Rover exports that were essential for survival long term.

    The real lesson – big brother takeovers or ‘partnerships’ only work if the big auto firm is willing to fund and give engineering/sales/management support, but let the smaller firm build their own products. Bernd almost pulled it off until BMW board got cold feet, but needed to improve MG Rover’s financial discipline while letting them build their own cars without BMW engineers interfering. Tata seems to have done this ok with Landrover.

    How much of the world’s auto industry will end up a CCP run oligopoly? All of it, it seems, if we don’t learn from lessons like the 75 and 9-5… another comparison would be Jag owned by Ford putting out X-type, say. Great idea, but hurt by Ford parts image/reliability. Should have let Jag make a cheap cut down V6 version of their V8 to address that.

    • New Zealand assembled Rover 3500s and Jaguar XJ6s for domestic sale and export to Australia in the 1970s. The Antipodean NAFTA FTA allowed importer/assembler access to duty free components from Australia (Australian heaters were used in some locally built Minis) and import licence credits for assembled cars from Australia. But NZ was not cheap, local labour was full union rate and comparable with U.K., and mandatory delete local parts made in low volume batches were usually more expensive than imported parts. Local assembly was used primarily for the domestic market as import licensing by value, and 6.25% on Commonwealth assembly kits vs 20% on Commonwealth CBUs, meant an importer could get roughly double the number of units across the wharf in CKD packs vs CBUs. By the early 80s, importer NZMC had ended all assembly of British sourced models and switched entirely to assembling Hondas. By the time MG Rover was formed, abolished import licensing and duty had seen the end of NZ assembly, and local parts production, while the Australian industry had been rationalised down to local manufacturing rather than assembly. There was still some KD assembly in ASEAN countries. Ironically, as we know, Asian assembly of MGs and ‘Rovers’ (Roewe) did eventually begin in ‘cheap’ China, under SAIC, initially using the tooling ‘lifted and shifted’ from Longbridge and Cofton Hackett.

  4. Wasn’t a bad looking car but always struck me as being an Insignia re-worked with SAAB badges. I still see the odd one occasionally. Has rarity value now but will always be a shame that another famous manufacturer is no longer with us.

  5. Before the 9-5x, there was the ‘Saabaru’ 9-2x. GM owned about 20% of Subaru until after the 2008 crash when it sold it to Toyota. I was a Subaru Impreza WRX with some Saab badges and trim pieces. It was a slightly more refined version of the WRX. https://www.motorbiscuit.com/saab-9-2x-aero-a-more-refined-subaru-wrx/

    Also there was the odd looking Subaru B9 Tribeca or B9x that was to be considered to be sold as a Saab 9-6x but dropped as GM sold its shares. It was based on the Subaru Legacy car model. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subaru_Tribeca

    Even before the 2008 financial crash that put GM into bankruptcy, they sold off their shares in Saab and Subaru as like with Rover, they didn’t have enough money to invest in a true independent model for Saab. GM used existing model platforms to keep the brand going until they could sell their shares out.

    I guess Saab had a following in the UK as well as the USA due to its quirky looks, for years its great handling and safety especially in wet and snowy conditions versus competitors. In large part in the USA/Canadian markets Subaru replace Saab. I can’t figure out why Subaru sales are so weak in the UK, I would think they would do better in rural areas but I guess other Japanese and EU brand SUV and CUV’s with AWD have so taken over there. Subaru has shifted its product line to be more CUV’s as the market changed.

  6. Subaru has not only been the most successful of all Japanese automakers in growing its volume in the US since 2006, it actually recorded the highest growth of all mainstream brands with sales up 3.5-fold in 13 years (from 200,000 to 700,000) and breaking its annual US sales record every year from 2009 to 2019. The Outback and Forester are Subaru’s best selling models in the United States.

    Subaru’s success stems from focusing heavily on its 4×4 Unique Selling Point and producing a handful of cars that US consumers really want, such as the Outback, Forester and XV Crosstrek. In doing so it has actually neglected the mainstream slightly, with the Legacy and Impreza in decline in recent years. However, the successful launch of a 7-seat SUV called Ascent after the failure of the Tribeca has proven that Subaru still has some mainstream appeal for families. Subaru produces the Impreza and Crosstrek, Legacy, Outback and Ascent for the US market in its factory in Lafayette, Indiana and imports the Forester and BRZ from Japan.

    • It’s a pity that Subaru don’t sell more in the UK,I’ve had two a BRZ & an XV both were excellent cars , but the importer has let the marque wither away here

  7. One of my the directors that I use to work for bought one, replacing his old 9-5 estate (pre eyebrow model). He like it, but eventually replaced it as some parts were getting difficult to get hold of (typical Saab as some bits are not GM), and some of the Plastics inside were not as good as his old car.

    I love both cars. As a Saab fan of the original 900 (I had the pleasure of being a passenger onec), you’d think I would I’d chose the Saab, but my brother owned a 9-3 and I was not impressed against my far superior S60, and so would pick the 75 any day of the week, as my short but sweet experience of driving one was a pleasure.

  8. Saab’s failure was largely a long term failure by GM to understand what a ‘premium’ car is in Europe. They thought they could nail together any old thing and pop a Saab badge on it, then premium-price it to sell like hotcakes. So, although the general design of the new 9-5 was pretty darn good, it drove indifferently, comparing unfavourably to the limousine qualities of M-B and the sporting qualities of BMW. I don’t know whether Saab still possessed the wherewithal to update the car to their standards, but GM made sure they were starved of investment to do it – an idiot response together with their unwillingness to leave any worth in the company to prospective purchasers, ultimately leading to the failure of the factory – if not the brand.

    GM at the time also had pathetic management post-Sloan, which they still thought was the bees knees. Their time with Saab was a time of conflict, with Saab engineers for instance being forced to take the ‘J’ car platform and mildly re-work it into the 9-3. Their production line was also forced to build the Cadillac version of the Vectra. An interesting and amusing tale follows the introduction of the 2003 Vectra which was panned by the press as being an awful car, even contrasting it with the much more able Saab 9-3. GM were forced to go cap in hand to Saab to engineer an update within 2 years of introduction, from whence the car became very much improved. I don’t think GM ever recovered from that humiliation and eventually achieved its disastrous sale.

    BMW by contrast, during their stewardship of Rover were far more intelligent in their nimble management in all areas and were able to drive the brand/product forward strongly, ultimately deciding that by having Mini alone, their time would be far more effectively employed driving that brand forward.

  9. One point missed is that unlike the 75, the Saab 95’s development was finished after Saab was sold and quite simply Spyker did not have the cash or the time to complete the job properly notably regarding the fine tuning of the suspension, the work having been suspended by a cash strapped GM that needing to stop cash flowing out the door into the black hole it had come to think Saab was. The result was that whilst the car worked well enough on smooth surfaces its ride and handling degraded significantly on the less to than perfect we spend most of their time driving.

    However, like the 75, the 95 was simply not good enough (how could it be, competing in a sector dominated by the German big 3) even with properly finished and funded development to win sufficient sales make Saab viable.

  10. I was overtaken on the motorway by one of these a few days ago. Notable as they’re so seldom seen, but were they all painted silver? Seems to me every one I’ve seen has been.

    • A silver one appeared on Emerdale last year driven by a crooked police officer. I thought it was a left field choice of vehicle for a character to drive.

    • Saw a mint black one in a Warwickshire traffic queue today so at least one wasn’t silver. It looked original and very well cared for. I can’t now recall the U.K. spec and engine choices but this one looked top of the range.

  11. A major difference between the two is that the 9-5 was developed on a restricted budget, where the 75 was was created back when BMW really wanted to invest in Rover. Personally I would have launched a Rover bodied 5 series as a cheaper and quicker to market product, rather than developing a bespoke FWD platform.

    Saab with their main models ended up with the worst of both worlds under GM ownership. No bespoke platforms underneath (which would give engineering credibility) but also no cheap rebodies of existing GM platforms.

    They ended up spending a lot to make their cars less like the parent GM models, but still had the stigma of being rebodied Vectras. A similar problem the Jaguar X-type faced, indeed the X-Type is probably a better comparison to the 9-5 than the 75.

    • I always wondered why BMW did create the 75 as was, instead of using the outgoing 5 series platform which was still years ahead of the opposition. Only thing I can think of was the tooling was worn out? Or was it because they were worried people would buy the cheaper Rover over their own cars?

      • BMW 500 -series (E39) looks aggresive and it’s target was well educated and wealthy people at 30-40 aged. Saab and Audi has similar target. Rover 75 was more old fashioned and more suitable ffities and over.

        • Then stick a R75 body over the E39 chassis, creating something which appeals to a different market, but shares mechanicals

          And of course it was BMW who pushed Rover into this “fuddy-duddy” image, commercially a disaster seeing that all the best selling cars in the class are all fairly aggressive in the styling (and indeed the way they are driven )

  12. I presume the reason that the General bought Saab was the same reason that Ford bought Jaguar to give them a prestige European range to compete with the new upstarts from Japan,Acura,Infinitti & Lexus. Why that ignored the potential of the Saab heritage to develop both 9-3 and the 9-5 earlier beggars belief,Apart from rebadging the Impreza as the 9-2 they did the same thing with the 9-7 a thinly warmed over Chevy Trailblazer,with it’s separate chassis and massive straight six and V8 engines a less Saab like car could not really be imagined. Another project that GM had on the go before things went belly up was the 9-4 which was a mid size luxury SUV that shared it’s production line in Mexico with the second generation Cadillac SRX. The platform for this was developed by GM Korea (ex Daewoo) and their version reached these shores as the Chevrolet Captiva & Vauxhall Antara. I don’t think that the deal with Spyker had a cat in hell’s chance of succeeding the new ownerwas far too small to take over Saab but it’s likely they were the only taker,at least Saab had a very brief existence outside the GM monolith before it closed

  13. This 9-5 was effectively killed at Birth so is a real rarity – Dont think I’ve seen one in the flesh. The previous model however launched in the late 90s was a very popular alternative to German premium cars. The press never regarded it as a dynamic equal to something like a 5 series, but it was a well made and well engineered car that sold well in the UK. Not aware that it suffered the reliability and quality issues that plagued the 75

    • Paul – what build quality issues ‘plagued’ the Rover 75? Having owned one, and being part of the club, for the best part of 15 years, build quality is one of the areas where the Rover 75 excelled. Even the project-drive cars at the end of the line are well built, just not as luxurious. The reason there are still 20,000 odd Rover 75s taxed with MOT driving on our nation’s roads 16 years after the last one was built.

      • I worked at a Rover facility during the BMW era. One day a Cowley 75 and a German built 5 series were brought into a conference room and put under bright lights and the Germans – product development and production engineers – evaluated the Rover quality while the Brits critiqued the BMW. One of the British engineers told me the Germans had been very complimentary about the 75’s materials quality and build standard and the U.K. team in turn, while impressed with the 5, had found defects and issues they reckoned they had eliminated from the Cowley cars. Both were very good products of their era.

  14. I still see a few Rover 75’s around too and always pause for a second look when I can. I have a 2004 Rover catalogue which has nice pics of the 75 and V8 and Limo versions… all look good and still stand out against today’s offerings.

  15. The only major issue with the 75 was head gaskets, everything else is reliable and no different from its German cousin who cost considerably more.

  16. I don’t think that Rover 75 and Saab 9-5 can be compared.
    The Rover was developed at enormous cost and was a really and honestly good car, let down only by two factors: its crap engine and at least outside the UK a non-existant dealer network (its eye watering prices surely were another factor). Had it been available with the Hams Hall engine and had it been sold through BMW dealerships similar to the Mini its prices could have been justified and it could have been really successful
    The Saab was a cynical exercise by a parent company that never understood orr was honestly interested in Saab and only wanted to sell cheaply re-branded stuff from anywhere in the GM universe to milk the goodwill towards the marque.

  17. I bought a brand new 95 in Sept 2011. I liked the look of the car and I got a very good deal as I recall, it was when Saab had halted production but before the official bankruptcy. It was a 2.0 Diesel 150 bhp. I had the car for just over 2 years and covered 50k. I have had what I call a succession of nice ‘ordinary’ cars primarily brand new including 75, ZT, E class convertible, CLS, XJ, RS Focus and so forth and can honestly say, I got more compliments on the look of the Saab than all the others bar my first ZT (solar red), the shape really seemed to get positive reaction. The interior was not amazing, the graphics were like a 1980’s spectrum ZX but I loved the car more than most. I got rid because the lease company offered to buy me out, I know parts unique to 95NG were difficult (e.g. front headlights and the rear light bar in particular). I would have had a second one without doubt had events been different.

  18. Just like the great K series debate, the topic of SAABs demise will rumble on for years and years.

    Now. I have been lucky / unlucky* enough to run quite a number of SAAB models from a “glory years era” 9000 to a late GM 9-3 saloon. All of them were pretty decent cars with only one of them being a bit of a dog in terms of reliability.

    I think GM gets hit with the sh*tty stick unfairly with their incumbency of SAAB. Because GM initially left them to run themselves, their engineers would forever go beyond the engineering budgets over the most trivial things. For example: how many of you knew some 700.000 euros were spent just developing the cup holder in the dashboard for the 9-5 and facelifted 9-3? – that said it was a work of art to use.

    Another major issue (that no manufacturer could have dealt with) was the plain and simple fact that the attempted move from being a niche manufacturer into a volume one was never going to happen. SAAB cars have generally been a “cerebral” purchase and a great deal of their quirks and idiosyncrasies could put people off – not only were the cars special, but the true customers were too.

    Go back a few years and SAAB was pretty much the engineers toy box for their parent company SCANIA. Their engineers would flit back and forth adding and subtracting technology and ideas on both the cars and trucks. As long as SCANIA made a profit SAAB pretty much rolled along doing their thing but profit margins were laughably thin – especially on the old 900 range.

    In fairness, all GM tried to do was lower the horrific cost base down to a more agreeable level by injecting GM DNA into the cars initially on a consumable level (friction, suspension that sort of thing) but SAAB engineers would then re-engineer the parts to a level where no cost savings were made. Also… by removing the engineering led approach you slowly take away the USP that made SAAB so very special and the true core customers sensed this and walked away.

    They were always a niche brand, selling in small numbers to a loyal but small customer base – cult cars if you will. They were never to be a volume brand as popularity would make something like a SAAB seem vulgar if that makes sense. Traditionally, SAAB sold, quite often at list price rarely slashing money off as a discount because in fairness they had no direct apples for apples rival.

    Put them into volume territory against Audi, BMW and other premiums and the SAAB seems lost and confused in an image crisis – and of course having to be discounted heavily when dipping a toe in the fleet market.

    GM – Ford – PSA whatever…. no-one could have saved them…. in the long term!

  19. SAABs appealed to the sort of buyer, usually quite well off, who wanted the same sort of durability and safety found in a Volvo, but with more driving enjoyment and more individuality. Yet being a fairly small manufacturer and not having the same global reach as Volvo, a takeover was inevitable as the cost of developing replacements for the ageing 900 and 9000 was becoming very high. Sadly, the partnership with GM did see the quality fall and buyers hearing that some cars shared engines with the Vauxhall Vectra waked away. Another thing to consider was Volvo, who were making cars that like the 850 Turbo that were just as good as SAAB and with a wider dealer network.

    • But incredibly SAAB even reworked the GM Ecotec units that were fitted. Closer attention was payed to the turbocharging and combustion behaviour for example. SAAB used their own bespoke camshafts with altered profiles and even the “Alliance” 1.9 TiD differed in many ways to GM products including bespoke cylinder heads end engine management systems.

  20. @Mike Humble:

    I have to agree with your comments here about the tension between lowering the cost base of SAAB vehicles versus the need to maintain engineering led supremacy. With the classic SAAB 900, for example, there were over sixteen different instrumentation packs offered, while SAAB engineers had no incentive to share more minor components such as alloy wheel designs or front seat architecture across the 900 and 9000 (which could have easily been disguised with the seating foam sculpting etc.) to enable them to have a greater commonality of parts. This would have gone a small way towards helping reduce the cost base of these vehicles. Beyond this, some of the components designed for the 9000 were made of rather exotic materials such as magnesium normally found on a much more expensive supercar to help keep the weight down. No wonder the 9000 rarely made a profit.

    SAAB really was a niche player and they did not like working with other car companies either, often finding fault with the quality/durability of components used, sometimes being public in their dissatisfaction of the engineering standards of these companies. For example, the ‘Type Four’ programme with Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Lancia and then in more recent times when owned by Spyker there was talk of SAAB using MINI technology for an all-new model, which they announced they would redesign to meet their own requirements. Nor did SAAB acknowledge the need for more competitive gestation periods when conceiving new models. In many ways, SAAB could have learnt a lot from a specialist company such as Porsche about how to lower the cost base across different models and have more realistic gestation periods for new projects, but at the same time continue to make cars which still had their own special USP. Look at the approach by Porsche in the early 1990s to share the cost base of the forthcoming new water-cooled 986 Boxster and 996 911 models, each of which still maintained its own appeal and continued to attract different buyer profiles. It undoubtedly saved Porsche.

    That said, SAAB certainly recognised the benefits of involving specialist companies for helping to develop some of their low volume offerings such as ASC with the 900 convertible and TWR with the 9-3 Viggen (although the latter model was still dynamically flawed).

    I think SAAB simply wanted a company to throw a shed-load of money their way and then walk away and let them get on with it. In reality, it was never going to happen.

    Finally, here in Exeter, in SAAB’s final years of existence, the SAAB franchise was integrated within the same showroom as Chevrolet. Walking into the showroom in the middle of the vast Marsh Barton Trading Estate and seeing a Chevrolet Kalos displayed alongside a SAAB 9-3 or 9-5 confirmed how far the SAAB name had fallen from grace.

  21. Does anyone remember the strangest result of the GM/SAAB union,the Cadillac BLS probably the only Cadillac never sold in the US,GM wanted a smaller Cadillac than the CTS and remembering the disaster of the J Car based Cimarron they got Saab to new body on the 9-3 and sales were initially to start in Europe. I didn’t think that the saloon version of the BLS looked bad at all apart from the Caddy grille it looked modern and quite European and offering an estate was a first for the marque as well,the engines were a choice of petrol GM inline 4 and V6 units,diesel unit’s were supplied by FIAT a 1-9L turbodiesel.Unsurprisingly sales were poor Cadillac having very little presence in the European market and the car was never sold in North American or any other market,so BLS production ceased after three years, The US finally did get it’s own small RWD car in 2013 with the ATS, but if the resources wasted on the BLS had been put into bringing the 9-5 to market earlier history might have been different

    • Yep I remember it. Top Gear had one once and if I remember the comment “why buy this imitation cadillac when you can have a Saab”.

    • Launched at one of the big European shows around 20 years ago. I later drove one at SMMT Test Day – well enough made, like a 9-3 to drive, looked and felt like what it was – a Cadillac style rebody of a Saab. There were a couple of estate survivors around here but I haven’t seen them for a year or two now.

  22. I have a 2011 model 9-5 Aero Turbo4. In grey. Bought it in 2017 to replace a 2.3HOT Dame Edna Aero. I really wanted the Turbo6 XWD but Turbo4s were more plentiful and it had only 30k miles on the clock.

    I absolutely love it. Most owners would say that when they walk away they always glance back at the car. Even though the car was launched in 2009, the design is actually much older, and as has been mentioned above GMs indifference in terms of investment meant that in 2005, rather than having a Gamma-platformed car (shared with Alfa 159) we got a restyled OG9-5 which would have to soldier on for 5 years selling in dwindling numbers while the NG was being developed on Epsilon 2. So some of the NG styling features ended up on the OG, which morphed into ‘Dame Edna’. Just imagine if the NG came out in 2005. But no, Vectra sales were tanking (I believe 9-3 was selling better) and resources were prioritised on Insignia development and NG production in Germany.

    I remember most of the press cars were diesel Vector models, these were comprehensively criticised. Saab listened and improved the cars for 2011 but massive improvements were promised for 2012 with the launch of the estate. Petrol engined Aeros were generally praised, testers did prefer the 2,0 litre car over the V6.

    Compared with the Insignia, they are like night and day. The 9-5 is cavernous, the Insignia is cramped. Everything is cramped compared with the 9-5. The car does have its flaws, a list too long to mention but that is insignificant compared to the car’s great points. The driving environment is, to me, perfect. The day my 9-5 has to be taken off the road, guess what I will be doing? Yes, looking for another Saab (then I will have to scratch that HFV6 itch).

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