* Prices may differ from that shown
Perhaps dooyoo readers would like to hear my about experience of driving one these 'Swedish rocketships' over 12 months and 20,000 miles. Firstly, a new driver will notice the wonderful smell of leather on entering the very roomy cabin. The seats are justly renowned for comfort and adjustability. The steering wheel feels large. The light steering makes for easy parking but you can have great confidence in the stability and general roadholding of the car. The ride is slightly firm and possibly underdamped so the car does not feel as 'sporting' as a BMW say. The engine is just wonderful. It does not have the ultimate smoothness of a six but thanks to balancer shafts it is pretty good for a large 4 and the high pressure turbocharger gives tremendous pickup in the higher gears. Even though 5th is nearly 30 mph per 1,000 revs it can be used from 30 mph onwards and storming accelation is available from 2,000 revs onwards in any gear. Amazingly the car averages 30 mpg driven reasonably. The car is at its best as a long distance cruiser. It is also superb at towing a caravan! I took it to Geneva with a 'van, averaged 25 mpg and went nearly all the way at 60 mph in 5th gear. I will not bore the reader with a long list of equipment but suffice to say it has nearly everything anyone might need and is much cheaper than its German rivals when loaded with similar goodies. The negatives are few. Yes there is torque steer in 1st and 2nd gear if you accelerate hard. I pefer to get the car rolling and then use heavier throttle in 3rd. It also saves wearing out the Michelin Pilots at about £150 each. I have had one minor fault - lost power steering fluid at 10,000 miles cured same day by my dealer. Servicing is expensive about £400 for 12,000 mile job. The car has its fun side - few people expect such performance - especially BMW drivers. Since the German rivals are so common these days try something different - you will very pleasantl y surprised yourself.
The Saab 9-5 is not the most obvious sports car. The body is big and chunky, and it looks a big, solid, heavy car. But lurking underneath is an incredibly quick and nimble car, with a ton of luxury to boot. Saab have always been known to build very safe cars. The 9-5 is an example of this, being the car that has achieved the highest scores ever in the Euro-NCAP crash tests. Added to this impressive boast, all Saabs, including the 9-5, come with about 4 air bags and ABS, along with several other safety features. While sitting inside, you get a sense of importance. The dashboard is styled in a wrap-around fashion, giving the driver all the controls in one area. I only had about half an hour actually driving the car, on the Millbrook test track just north of Luton, so I didn't get a lot of time to play with the controls in detail. However, all the controls seemed solid and responded well. They were all laid out quite logically, and were all easily reachable without fumbling about. The 9-5 Aero that I drove had a host of extra features that would not be found on every model, including leather seats, steering wheel, etc. But the Saabs true merit has to lie solely in its performance. The figures speak for themselves really. It does 0 to 60mph in 6.5 seconds, and is good for almost 150mph. This is all due to the 2.3 litre turbo charged engine. All Saabs have turbo charged petrol engines, and so Saab have become very good at this. Most turbo charged cars, such as the Mondeo ST200 and Subaru Impreza, have 'turbo-lag', where it takes a while for the turbo to kick in, and when it does, it hits with a bang. However, with the 9-5 Aero, the turbo is instantaneous, and you wouldn't even know it was there were it not for the incredible power that it produces. The 9-5 is incredibly smooth. This is partly down to the incredibly smooth power delivered from the powerplant under the bonnet, but it is also due to a very well tuned susp ension and tyre package. With such a large an heavy car, you would expect a certain about of wobbliness, with the car rolling side to side as it entered the corners. But, to my surprise, the car handled very well, almost like a small car such as an Astra or Focus. The Millbrook test track is quite severe, with lots of climbs and drops, up to 21% gradients, and tight corners, so it was an ideal place to test the agility of the car. It felt composed throughout the test, with little in the way of body role, yet the ride was smooth over the bumps. Around the high speed bowl, the acceleration was very fast. I was limited to 100mph, but the 9-5 achieved that speed very quickly, and was certainly ready for more. The gear box responds positively, with a very short distance between gears. There is also a very nice lock on the gear stick as standard. The ignition key barrel is actually located alongside (just to the bottom right, actually) of the gear stick, and to remove it, the gear stick must be in reverse, which locks it in gear, thus rendering the car useless, unless it can be unlocked. This works quite well. The advantage of having the ignition key located in the centre rather than on the steering column is two fold, though in Saabs 'official' view, just the one. Firstly, it is a lot safer, as in an accident, the ignition barrel is a very hard, non moving piece of metal that will hit your chest, so moving it to the centre console is a lot safer. Secondly, it means that if you have a lot of keys, they won't keep banging against your leg as you drive. The car is full of driver aids. The seats are fully adjustable, as is the steering column. There is electric everything, and full climate control, rather than the standard air conditioning. Also, the car is split into zones, thus enabling you to change the temperature in different areas, though dramatic differences are obviously not possible. The noise produced from the AC is dependent on how hi gh you turn up the fan, but you can leave it on the Low setting and it still reduces the temperature nicely. When I tested it (last Tuesday (26th June), the outside temperature was around 30 degrees centigrade, yet the temperature inside dropped quite quickly to a much more comfortable 18 degrees. This is truly a great car, and has to be recommended 100% to anyone who can afford it. The power is just sensational, the handling solid and smooth, and the luxury unparalleled in its class. Plus, everything comes as standard, so you don't have to fork out more money to get the specs you want, unlike with BMW, Mercedes and Volvo. --------------------------------- UPDATE - 9/8/2001 --------------------------------- Well well, a crown for this opinion! I've only just noticed the crown, so I don't think its been here long. Its certanly true that you don't have to have many reads to get a Crown, as when I wrote this update I'd only had 8 members read this opinion. Anyway, thanks to those of you who nominated it, and thanks to Dooyoo for issuing it.