"Giant Swedish saloon represents a value for money alternative to the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes E-Class."
If you want to stand out from the executive crowd, then the flashy 9-5 saloon could be for you. As well as dramatic looks, you get a spacious, well-equipped cabin, powerful engines and an enviable safety record. However, dynamically the 9-5 fails to hit the mark, while running costs are on the high side.
There are two petrol and two diesel engines on offer, all of which are turbocharged. Customers can also opt for a four-wheel-drive chassis. Entry 178bhp 1.6-litre petrol sprints from 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds, while range-topping 218bhp 2.0-litre petrol reaches the mark in 7.6 seconds. Lowest-powered diesel unit – 158bhp 2.0-litre – sprints from 0-62mph in 10.1 seconds. In general, the 9-5's steering offers minimal feedback and the six-speed gearbox delivers slow and ponderous changes. Optional DriveSense system (£1,175) allows owners to switch between Comfort, Intelligent and Sport modes to provide more relaxing cruising or sharpen cornering ability, but it doesn't produce an obvious difference. Refinement is only average and the saloon is prone to body roll in bends.
Ride is on the firm side and the 9-5 can become jittery on uneven roads. Wind noise can also be intrusive. Standard sports seats are electrically adjustable and offer impressive support, although can't match comfort of rivals.
Saab has a reasonable reputation for quality and reliability, which the new independent owners will be hoping to improve further. The 9-5's cabin feels well screwed together, but a number of parts are sourced from GM, meaning the saloon may suffer similar faults to Vauxhalls. A five-star Euro NCAP rating means safety is first class.
With huge dimensions, the 9-5 offers bags of space. There's plenty of room up front, while passengers in the rear are treated to acres of legroom. However, headroom for tall passengers is limited slightly by the sloping roofline. The saloon's cavernous boot comes with a number of clever cargo options, such as 60:40 split folding rear seats and a ski hatch, while a sliding boot divider is a well priced option.
Value for money
Whichever model you opt for, you'll be guaranteed a lengthy standard kit list. Vector SE spec gets front foglights, 17-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, Bluetooth phone connection, cruise control, air-conditioning, heated seats, electric windows, leather steering wheel and half-leather seats. Sporty Aero trim features 19-inch wheels, sportier bumpers, a lower ride height, bi-xenon lights, alloy pedals and electric leather sports seats. Predicted resale values are disappointingly low, though.
Entry-level 2.0-litre Vector TiD returns an impressive 53mpg and emits only 139g/km, resulting in an annual road tax bill of £110. Flagship 2.0-litre turbo has an economy figure of 34mpg and emissions of 189g/km (£245 road tax), which are no longer competitive in this sector and easily trumped by rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.