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I've always found it somewhat bizarre that when people find out I drive a SAAB thay look quizzically at me and make a comment along the lines of 'That's a bit of an old man's car isn't it?' Hard as I might try, no-one has yet been able to tell me why they think it is an old man's car, other than some notion they have that a lot of old men drive them. Well my friend, maybe all that experience should tell you something! After all, it was recently voted What Car Used Car of the Year. I have been driving a SAAB 9-5 2.0 SE Airflow for just over a year, and I am very pleased with it. In truth, I would rather be driving a Honda S2000 or Aston Martin DB7 but I can't afford the latter and neither of them suit the practical requirements of a family. So a SAAB it is, and I've not regretted it for second. You can read about handling and equipment levels on the SAAB website or any independent roadtest review. Suffice to say, it may not have the cornering ability of a BMW, but then I have never cornered fast enough to find this a problem. What I have done is saved £000s for a better equipped car that doesn't have a BMW badge on the front. This car has everything I need and more, it is very comfortable over long journeys, and all the controls are well positioned. This car makes you feel like someone has actually sat down and thought about making life easier for the driver. That brings me on to the thoughtful touches that nobody brags about. A stereo system that automatically resets to a preset volume each time you start the car. Think about it - how many times have you got into the car at 7am only to be deafened by the stereo because your nearest and dearest was listening to Aerosmith at FULL volume the night before. Not in this SAAB. OR, the double sun visors for those annoying times where the sun is blinding you through both front and side windows. Now you don't have to choose where to put the sun vi
sor. If I really think hard, the only negative point I can think of is that fuel consumption tails away rather sharply above 70mph. However, law abiding citizens need not worry about that too much. So I guess I'm an old man cos I love this car. Oh yeah....the other comment I get is 'its just a Vectra in disguise'. Maybe so....and a Jaguar X-Type is just a Mondeo in disguise. Do you think the drivers of either are bothered.......NAH!!!
The Saab 9-5 bears more than a passing resemblance to the car it replaces, the four-door 9000 CD and you'll have to look hard to spot the difference. The new car is based on a stretched Vauxhall Vectra chassis, but it's bigger than the 9000 CD and the five-door 9000 CS which remains on sale until an 9-5 estate arrives later in 1998. Despite its GM underpinnings, from the outside the 9-5 looks every inch a Saab. We started off with the three-litre auto V6. The 197bhp engine is turbocharged, but you'd hardly notice as the power delivery is so smooth. Unlike Saab's old four-cylinder turbos, there's no rush of power. Go for the four-cylinder engine and you can have a manual or auto. Both are light-pressure turbo engines and again they're docile. The base two-litre produces 147bhp, and feels surprisingly quick. Strangely, the 168bhp 2.3-litre version doesn't feel much faster. We drove over rutted, frost-damaged roads where you'd previously be forced to ease off - not in the 9-5, though. It might not have Jaguar-like ride comfort but it made a better job than the 9000. The 9-5 is not dull, nor is it wildly exciting. Push on a bit and it runs wide; over a twisty road, the Saab is no match for a BMW or Audi. But the 9-5 feels right in the German cars' league when it comes to build and refinement. The unique, roomy, comfortable cabin also feels special. With those qualities, decent equipment and a low price, many will be tempted.