UK Car Road Test

Saab 9.5 Hot Aero 2002

 


 

The rather lovely Saab 9.5 in all its top of the range Hot Aero glory forget the conventionally aspirated V6 for the full Saab effect here the time honored  4 cylinder motor  sweeping 2.3 litres of volume with it high pressure intercooled turbo banging out 250 horses of chassis twisting grunt.

For nearly 50 years, Saab has offered buyers a unique alternative to the more mainstream European saloon. first two strokes, then big(ish) front wheel drives, then Turbocharging, front-wheel drive and cutting-edge safety technology and solid build have made Saabs popular with those living in northern climes, whether in Sweden or the the rest of the world. A distinctive design heritage and idiosyncratic details, such as mounting the ignition on the center console among them, endear Saabs to people whilst alienating a few others.

Saab's first big saloon, the rather quirky 9000, debuted in 1985 and quickly built a cult following. 

When the 9000 evolved into the 9-5, Saab made its largest car even more powerful and, as many Saabites believe and bemoan, more mainstream. Since then, the 9-5 has been steadily refined into an upper sector competitor for the all conquering Germans.

The 9-5 is a traditionally quirky Saab, with its passion for  turbocharged 4-cylinder engines which almost borders on as  geekily obsessive as Mazdas obsession with the wankel and  front wheel drive as ever being asked to do a little too much.. 

The 9-5 Aero is Saab's flagship sports saloon. It also comes in rare estate form but thats getting a touch too close to Volvo for my liking.

This is a car that's getting pretty old by modern auto industry standards and its super quick model turnaround. It was introduced back in 1997 as an update on the already 10 year old 9000, But unlike a lot of long lived models, the 9-5 is holding up surprisingly well.  Its hard to date and still looks modern and fresh. True you either like the Saab look or you dont, If you do you will agree, if you dont you probably wont care as you would never dream of paying a premium for an oddball Swede.

This is the Aero. Saab has adopted an unintelligibly pompous nomenclature for its equipment levels, compound the already rather complex structure it had in place. The cheap models are now "Linear." The mid level trims  "Arc." and "Vector" with the top of the line is "Aero."  and a suffix of sport on every point in between What ever happened to "Good, Better, Best"?  or  "Spartan, Basic, Plastic Woodfest."? . More seriously  we knew where we stood with  L,GL,GLX,  or S,SE  or GT but what the hell is going on now with every man and his dog inventing new scales of immeasurable ecstasy    for each and every marque and model. T1, T2 ,T3 etc etc. me Im getting ever more confused.

On the outside, the Saab (acronym for Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget or the Swedish Aircraft Company Limited) 9-5 Aero distinguishes itself from the rest of the 9-5 family with flared panels, a deep front chin spoiler and a new rear valance panel. plus lowered suspension and seriously low profile rubber. The combination gives the Aero menacing appearance that complements the original sharp-edge design.

With the rest of industries designers  heading back to the jelly mould designs of the first Sierra ( ho ho how original guys ),  The Saab is refreshing breath of originality, though hardly original. The sharp, angular lines take me back to my favorite sharp angular cars like the seminal Audi Coupe.

Black rubber rubbing strips are on the doors and bumpers which would look  better painted in the body color (unless the cars black of course like the original 99 turbo nutter  hmmm there's an idea ) , It does though break up the sides which were slabby to say the least on the 9000. 


Airline pilots and wannbes like me will feel right at home inside the Aero,  Despite the mass of leather there is no hint of tree (hurrah) just a huge slab of brushed alloy effect which is dark almost like stainless and is festooned with buttons, switches, rockers dials, controls and clocks, fantastic and rather kinky as it rises like a cliff vertically up the car.. 

Saab were the first to take ergonomics seriously and they still do Inside boasts a swiveling map light, Aircraft-style Fasten Seatbelt  lamp and controls that are angled toward the driver for perfect easy reach. Whilst all of the controls are only a finger away, there are a number of idiosyncrasies. 

But rest assured there is good reason behind the Swedes madness some moan about   the placement of the ignition switch on the center console but it locks the car in reverse, simple cheap and effective security years ahead of any steering lock.

Just look closely at the picture above see the two little buttons, no not windows but boot and petrol cap release, (windows and mirrors are in the normal door position in the arm rest,)  seems strange at first but think about the logic external things on the external thing, perfect, when do you open the petrol cap on your way out of the door to put petrol in, see its not rocket science, perfect.

The armrest on the center console that slides linearly on a ratchet seems a trifle odd, but in virtually every car I try short people cant use the armrest unless it folds and if you unfold it you can not use the handbrake, the Saab slides it way around that problem, brilliant. 

There is  lack of cubby space for front passengers, but blame yourselves and your love of space stealing Airbags and side impact protectors.

Up front, the leather seats are firm, yet oh so comfortable and easily adjustable, thanks to the eight available adjustments. Lateral support was maybe  a touch lacking under very hard cornering but this a 5 door fast executive saloon not a pseudo rally car , in terms of comfort the seats in high end Saabs just can not be touched and these are no exception..

Likewise, the backseat afforded occupants with firm seating surfaces,  the rear three-point seatbelts had a tendency to cut into the neckline of shorter passengers but we are getting really fussy now. Rear freeloaders are afforded excellent headroom and plenty of legroom, as well as ducts crafted nicely into the rear of the center console and magazine pockets built into the front seatbacks.

Cruise keeps its economical 
on Motorway

Air Con 
(probably not used much in Sweden)

The instrument panel curves at the top in the same shape as the steering wheel, affording an unobstructed view of the speedometer, tachometer, fuel, temperature and the entertaining turbo boost gauge. It's mildly amusing to watch the boost gauge, and see how the power responds more to boost than to revs or depth of pedal press in other words.

Big buttons for the sound and climate systems are located in a large rectangle in the center console and are easy to understand. The  stereo is  excellent as it should be at this price point. Redundant audio controls on the steering wheel reduce distraction from the road once you have trained your thumbs.  

The Vents are attractive and designed well for aiming with their joystick like controls and supply a copious amount of cabin air/control whether using air con or the more needed Swedish winter spec internal heater.      .

The gearshift knob for the manual transmission is leather-stitched and pear-shaped and likewise has a good feel shame the gearshift does not quite match. This Matches nicely to the leather trim of the big thick steering wheel which feels good to hold with its big chunky thumb grips.

 

 

Tricky Dickies wicked mines better 
than yours cup holding device (pat. pend.)

 The Coolest cup holders in the world ever!

The Aero's interior sports a lot of cool features like dual climate control, night panel dash lighting (good for the eyes and not falling asleep on the motorway),  and a really trick cup holder that swings down out of the dash, while rotating the cup ring better than the much advertised VW-Audi one ohh yessss indeedy. (yes I know , I normally don't care about such frippery, but this was just such a smart piece of plastic engineering).  A fixed cup holder in the center console is a touch less convenient, especially if there's already lots of stuff in there as there always is in my cars.

The Aero comes with a high standard spec - you get far more kit on this car than on any equivalently priced 5-Series,  As standard, you get bi-xenon headlights, leather,  heated seats, dual zone climate control, parking radar... the list goes on! and if its not in it you can add it on for more money, if you can buy a used version of this fully loaded, then you could spend the first month just playing before you even start the engine.

You have or can have ventilated front seats  auto dimming rearview mirror with integrated garage door opener and digital compass, three-position memory function on the driver's seat and an upgraded nine-speaker, 200-watt  stereo system.  rain-sensing wipers, Saab park assist and auto-dimming outside mirrors.  a electric  glass sunroof and a cooled glove box, which is particularly handy when you have a other half  who loves chocolate bars. Sentronic automatic transmission, bi-xenon headlights.

These are on top of all the normal bits bobs and thingamys you would expect in this class of car.

 

Comfort Features
Adjustable Steering Column
Adjustable Steering Column
Centre Arm Rest Rear
Centre Arm Rest Rear
Cup holders
Cup holders
Drivers seat Lumbar Support
Drivers seat Lumbar Support
Front Door Bins
Front Door Bins
Head Rests (front & rear)
Head Rests (front & rear)
Height Adjustable Drivers Seat
Height Adjustable Drivers Seat
Height Adjustable Seat Belts
Height Adjustable Seat Belts
Pollen Filter
Pollen Filter
Remote Boot Release
Remote Boot Release
Remote Petrol Cap Release
Remote Petrol Cap Release
Split rear seats
Split rear seats
Sports Front Seats
Sports Front Seats
Time Clock
Time Clock
General Features
12 V Accessory Power Point
12 V Accessory Power Point
Colour Coded Bumpers
Colour Coded Bumpers
Colour Coded Mirrors
Colour Coded Mirrors
Digital Odometer
Digital Odometer
Exterior Side Mouldings
Exterior Side Mouldings
Heated Rear Window
Heated Rear Window
On Board Computer
On Board Computer
Tinted Windows
Tinted Windows
Luxury Features
Air Conditioning
Air Conditioning
Cigarette Lighter
Cigarette Lighter
Climate Control
Climate Control
Electric Mirrors
Electric Mirrors
Electric Windows (front & rear)
Electric Windows (front & rear)
Heated Mirrors
Heated Mirrors
Illuminated Passenger Vanity Mirror
Illuminated Passenger Vanity Mirror
Leather Upholstery
Leather Upholstery
Radio CD Player
Radio CD Player
Trip Counter
Trip Counter

A nice trick when you get used to it is the parabolic external mirror. The far end of the right side-view mirror bends outward, which provides a wider view of the right lanes. It requires practice to determine the location of a fast rearward approaching car. 

Split visors which allow shielding the sun when it's in the corner of the windshield or when changing directions frequently are a nice touch. 

 

 

The 9-5 Aero is, literally, H.O.T. A marvel of Saabs smarty-pants engineering and 30 years of constant slow evolution of the Turbo theme, the Aero's 2.3-liter twin-cam four-cylinder engine employs a proprietary HOT  .... "High-Output Turbo" technology to achieve over 100 horsepower per liter. What's more, these 250 horses are hard-charging shires not my little pony , with torque output reaching 258 ft.-lbs. 

The real beauty of the powertrain is a powerband as broad and flat as the GM derived 3 litre V6.  High no Hyper torque is sustained all the way from 1,900 rpm to its peak at 3,800 rpm.  So pulling away, zipping past  traffic,  and charging up short slip roads are dispensed with with nonchalant ease and a minimum of gear changes and revs. Saab's combination of computerized turbo-pressure control and direct-inject Trionic 7 fuel delivery what ever that is deliver a turbo engine with absolutely unimpeachable manners

You don't have to be a nerdie techie gear-head to appreciate the Aero's jewel of powertrain. that can give a generously sized saloon, weighing in at over 3,300 lbs stunning performance, yet can when your foot stays well behaved enough for long enough return more than reasonable economy figures. Though use all that easily available power and the figures can turn to disaster. 

The power hike from 230bhp of old to 250 bhp of  HOT has been made possible by revising Saab's own 32- bit Trionic engine-management system to increase the fuel/air mixture, while winding up the variable-turbo boost pressure to 1.5 bars. With the five-speed manual transmission, torque remains unchanged at the old figure of 258 ft.-lbs. .peak , but get this with a 20-second turbo overboost function increasing torque to 273 ft.-lbs. , to allow  quote decisive and controlled overtaking of other vehicles,  oh  I say James that extra 15  ft.-lbs really seems noticeable as we go wheel spinning by all the other traffic.

If you've always wanted to fly a jet, but couldn't afford one, the Aero is as close to low level flying as you can get with its aeronautic associations and its performance. ( well its a damned site closer than a Mini Metro built when the company was owned by British Aerospace ) With the standard 2.3-liter turbocharged four putting out 250 horsepower at relatively lowly 5,500 rpm and its 258 foot-pounds of torque  starting at just 1,900 rpm, the 9-5 Aero leaves you constantly looking for opportunities to press the right foot deep into the carpet and feel the whoosh as the car launches forward from 1900  and leaves you scrambled brain, and scrambling for the next gear as 6000 rpm approaches.. 

Turbo lag in the HOT is so  miniscule as to be best described as non existent and anyway its happening so low down its of little real relevance.

250 sounds great but lets be realistic there are plenty of  4 cylinder  1.8, 2.0, 2.2  motors out there that pump out 220, 240 bhp no problem so what's the big  Saab deal with its 250bhp 2.3.  Well we have just described the torque and if you don't get what that means let me explain a little. 

There are two types of Turbo motor the rough running lag laden giggle box much beloved by the sports coupe, come rally clone  with all its bad behavior part of the cars character  it turbo kicking in when it feels like and generally at the most inconvenient moment and then there are the marvels of technology like the 1.8 20valve turbo VW Audi thing that goes from 150 to 220 bhp with nary a chip change  and  the turbo spin up with smooth reverence and beyond that  point have linear easily probed delivery. And then there is the Saab massive V8 like pull from trickle revs right through the range and up to its close to supercar maximum delivery, you want power just press the accelerator  any revs any gear As an overtaking car, little else I have driven comes close. The mid-range acceleration (in 3rd and 4th gear) is nothing short of phenomenal!  

Yet having said all that your granny really could drive this car as the delivery is just so predictable, its not supposed to be a race motor its a benign but power crazed street motor with  perfect manners. 

Paired up to the motor is  a light but slightly wooly shifting five-speed manual though with excellently smooth hydraulic clutch operation, the transmission is geared to maximize the power plant's torque curve, rather than horsepower. Even in fifth gear at 40 mph, a jab at the throttle brought forth a near-endless swell of turbo boost, propelling the Aero into the illegal  zone within a matter of seconds. Personally I would have like to have seen the 6 speeder from some Vauxhalls dropped in here for a monster overdriven top. 

    Cost New 27695

Service Interval Insurance Group Safety Rating Smog Rating
12000 17 Not Available Band (D)
Engine BHP CC Fuel Inj.
4 Cylinder 16 Valve DOHC Turbo 250 2290 Yes
Cyl Camshafts Valves/cyl Compressor
4 Double 4 Turbo Charger
Top Speed 0 to 60 BHP per Tonne
155mph 6.5seconds 171
MPG@Urban MPG@Cruise MPG@Speed Fuel Type
22.1mpg 44.1mpg 32.1mpg Unleaded
Kerb Weight Tow Weight Length Width Height
1485kg 1800kg 480cm 205cm 145cm
Boot Seats/up Boot Seats/Down Seats
500 Litres 0 Litres 5

 


Horsepower : 250 hp @ 5300 rpm 
Torque : 258 lb-ft @ 1900 rpm
Redline :  Not shown

Top speed : 155 mph
0-60 mph : 6.5 sec.(manual), 6.9 sec.(automatic)
0-¼ mile : 15.2 sec @ 94.4 mph

 

0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds. Speed 155mph. Fuel consumption 32.1mpg.  Sounds like a dream certainly doesn't sound like a Vectra, but it's amazing what you can do with one given enough time money will power and effort.

In fact SAAB has now all but completely thrown away its 9-5 model's Vauxhall Vectra underpinnings. The car's suspension, that used to serve up understeer by the bucket full, now dishes it out in tiny little predictable portions. It's still there, of course, but it's not nearly such a dominant feature as it used to be.

With some 1,200 improvements to the car, SAAB's and GM's engineers have obviously been burning the midnight oil, though the Vectra is wildly improved now too. 

Saab see the 9-5 as a competitor to the BMW 5-Series and the Merc  E-Class. But because for many not in the know it doesn't carry the obvious status of the German machines it has to out-class them in other ways, if you measure class by a Flag and rear wheel drive, you are definitely missing out.

The Saab 9-5 Aero offers the driver even greater performance and driving pleasure. You’ll notice this even before entering the car the big lightweight aluminium wheels, aerodynamic spoilers and side skirts are there for good reason. The front spoiler also has integrated foglamps. and  Accessory rear bridge spoilers are also available for a more Essex  GTi look.

In order to fully exploit the massive available power, the Saab 9-5 Aero has a firmer sports chassis to provide even better performance in corners. The springs are lower and harder and the rubber wider, lower profile and taller.

While the  Saab's chassis has been lowered by .4-inch to lower the vehicle's center of gravity, and despite the installation of larger sway bars installed along with stiffer springs and firmer struts and Saab has chosen to use highly progressive spring rates on the Aero. , the 9-5 still suffers from a a touch of body roll and a lightly moderate amount of understeer call it the Saab driving experiance.

Although the steering is more responsive than other 9-5 variants, the suspension is not tuned in proportion with the engine. While Saab has enhanced the suspension to a point, if you are expecting Impreza type chuckabilty you are going to be disappointed. The whole chassis may have been updated but the 9000/Vauxhall underpinnings can show through when pushed hard. The suspension set up is pretty stiff, and so while driving slowly in town the ride can be just a touch uncomfortable and crunchy at times. Out on the open road, however, it's a different story. Body control round both high- and low-speed corners is excellent despite a modicum of roll.

The steering is rather light by Saab standards not giving that feeling of solidity Saab owners will be so used to, but does provide enough feedback to let you know what the front wheels are up to,  The 9-5 can  suffer from rather a lot of torque steer, but  this is unavoidable with 250bhp going through the front wheels, In fact when you consider the power and torque generated you are amazed the Torque steer is so little.

The switchable Traction Control System (TCS) is quite a thing one little button can change the character of the car so completely. Only when you turn it off do you realise how much wheel spin and arm tugging its cutting out. Its damp today so switch it back on, leave it for a hooligan hot Sunday on quiet country roads, but budget for new tyres soon after.

Zapping the  Aero to a stop are big 12-inch dinner plate size discs up front and 11-inch discs out back that feature four-channel ABS with  EBD - Electronic Brake Force Distribution. 

The Saab 9-5's superb braking produces 60 to 0 in juste 117 feet. with minimal initial dive and even with repeated hard stops, the Aero's brakes showed few signs of fade. So Mr Highway code stick that in your 1940's braking distance chart

The 9-5 is equipped ABS, EBD, TCS. This are all controlled and combined by the ESP to maintain control and allow such things as steering whilst jamming on the ABS round coners on the edge of the traction control. 

The Electronic Stability Program (ESP) helps drivers maintain control by selectively applying the brakes to individual wheels to correct a skid. If the driver goes into a corner too fast for the conditions the system can correct for oversteer by automatically applying the brakes to the outer wheels to bring the car back into line. The system also works when a slippery road causes the car to understeer, Saab have worked closely with Bosch, the German company that supplies the system, to achieve optimum tuning for its chassis peculiarities. Saab tested the system extensively in the slippery Scandinavian Arctic and the speedy Hockenheim racing circuit. Saab claims its stability program is one of the best in the world, and we can't argue cos we have no idea,  its so good we either did not notice it was there or we are so good we did not need it.

Next year there will be no drivers seat or steering wheel just a computer sat in your place. Me Im amazed I,ve managed to drive for so long without ABS,EBD,TCS,ESP,PAS,PAB maybe my brain is just so much bigger than most drivers and acutely tuned to the feelings running through my hands feet and ass. Some how I doubt it very much.


60-0 braking distance 125 ft  
Lateral G  0.83 g  
Tyres 225/45-ZR17   
Suspension :     
  Front Independent MacPherson strut
  Rear Independent multilink
Brakes     
  Front Vented discs
  Rear Solid discs

The Saab 9-5 Aero has pretty much  the comfort one has come to expect from Saab. The car feels solid, heavy, and stuck to the road. It's also quiet,  rides and handles very nicely, especially  and most importantly at the speeds which most people actually drive cars. Unlike some others, the Saab is not tuned to impress at 125 mph. It's tweaked to perform really well at real world speeds ie sub 100. Yet its stable enough to push on towards its high maximum The result is an decent balance of comfort and sportiness-not to mention control and safety.

You don't quite get the body control of say a BMW, but the 2.3HOT is a seriously quick car capable of  pulling 120mph even on a short straight and with loads of braking power to knock that speed back down again. Traction control with ESP does kick in a bit early, but if you want to play the hooligan you can slow down and switch it off, then leave darkies on the road all the way past 65mph in 2nd gear. 

The main point of this car though is its ability to get you hundreds of  miles at a more than decent speed, in reasonable comfort  something it does perfectly.

 

Steer/Susp/Tech Features
Alloy Wheels
Alloy Wheels
Catalytic Converter
Catalytic Converter
Disc Brakes Front & Rear
Disc Brakes Front & Rear
External Temperature Gauge Fitted
External Temperature Gauge Fitted
Front Fog lamps fitted
Front Fog lamps fitted
Front Spoiler
Front Spoiler
Halogen Head Lights
Halogen Head Lights
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim
Independent Suspension
Independent Suspension
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Power Assisted Steering
Power Assisted Steering
Rev Counter
Rev Counter
Service Level Indicator
Service Level Indicator
Traction Control
Traction Control

 

 

 

 

Parking Sensors help keep the body 
Straight

 Retina Burning Lamps
Absolutely Top

 

Safety/Security Features
Alarm
Alarm
Antilock Braking System
Antilock Braking System
Central Locking
Central Locking
Child Locks
Child Locks
Engine Immobiliser
Engine Immobiliser
Front Side Air Bags
Front Side Air Bags
Front Twin Airbags
Front Twin Airbags
High level brake Light
High level brake Light
Locking Fuel Cap
Locking Fuel Cap
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Remote Central Locking
Remote Central Locking
Side Impact Protection
Side Impact Protection
Three Rear 3 Point Seat Belts
Three Rear 3 Point Seat Belts
Visible Identification Number
Visible Identification Number

Like other Saabs, this car has a high belt line, so there is a bit of a bathtub or letter box if you prefer effect when you sit in it. But that creates a feeling of being well protected, steel has to be stronger than glass? And you don't just feel safe in this car-you are safe. 

Saab has a well-earned reputation for safety, and they keep their cars updated with the latest safety technology. The 9-5 Aero has Saab's electronic stability program, which constantly measures the difference between the steering wheel input and where the car is actually going. And when necessary, the program activates individual brakes to prevent the car from spinning or rolling out of control. 

There are also proprietary active head restraints for whiplash protection up front., Anti submarine seats, and front-seat head and dual-stage side airbags. Three point rear belts etc etc etc. Then, there's a feeling of safety and security you get from a car that's easy to drive, and confidently does what you expect it to do.

Saab's 9-5 Saloon has another advantage that lurks beneath the surface. The fundamental structural engineering of the chassis and cabin is innovative, complicated, Saab extol the crash-worthiness of their cars,  You may think Volvo, but Saab should be right up there maybe even more up there. 

The 9-5's horseshoe-shaped triple load paths, front and rear, which channel and dissipate collision energy away from occupants. 

Similarly clever are the pendulum door posts. In the event of side impact, these especially rigid pillars are designed not to crush and intrude into the cabin, but instead to hinge at top and break away at bottom. This action helps maintain a rigid cage structure whilst dissipating  impact energy downward and away from the cabin. 

Saabs have traditionally performed well in the snow, too despite a lack of  4*4 and you don't get much more snow than Scandinavia 

The SAAB  9-5 is or was as well the all-time top scorer in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests.

 

Alarm, Immobilisor, Central locking, Vins are virtually the full house of security, plus the super gearbox lock still there for good measure.

 

JD Power Survey Ratings
2002  
2003 82.5
2004 83
2005 79.7

 

The inside of the 9-5 feels a touch old fashioned in these day of bubble topped greenhouse framed cars. The dashboard comes close to the driver. The windshield is fairly flat. More recently designed cars feel airier, and are sometimes  ergonomically sleeker. But there's no doubt that this is a comfortable, even luxurious interior, with great seats and a good driving position. The 9-5 also creates a lot of interior room for its size. Even though this is not a massive car overall, room is quite adequate for all your major body parts: feet, shoulders and head. 

Old can have an upside too though my personal pet hate in the latest greenhouses is the foot thick a pillar just where you don't want it in your line of sight at junctions, the old square jawed small windowed designs avoid this monstrous design necessity. 

The Aero has more than enough room in the back, where there's plenty of legroom. Other than where the armrest for the front-seat passengers intruded into the legroom for the rear, middle passenger. There's a vent in the console between the seats, which is good for the person sitting in the middle of the back seat, but it doesn't make a lot of air available to passengers sitting to either side, still its a start.

The ergonomics in the Aero are good. The driver's seat is cockpit-like, with instrumentation across the front and down the center console. Despite the fact that there are many, initially indistinguishable small buttons on the console, the radio and heat controls were fairly easy to figure out. The gauges, are  large enough to make out clearly without difficulty. It was refreshing  to be able to sit behind the wheel, look at a dashboard and be able to read everything with ease

The Aero also has a night panel feature. Press a button, and everything on the dashboard-the tachometer, the temperature gauge, the fuel gauge, the turbo boost-all go dark, except for the speedometer, which stays illuminated, The speedometer is only illuminated up to 90 miles an hour, which suggests to you that if it's dark out, you shouldn't go over 90. Strange then that the Saab has some massively powerful Bi -Xenon lamps and fog which turn night into day, cost a fortune to put in and an arm and a leg for a replacement bulb. If you should not do more than 90 in the dark a couple of small candles would be cheaper to fit. 

Still the night panel  feature is good  it makes night driving easier on your eyes, by allowing your vision to focus on light that's coming from outside the car. The darker it is inside, the easier it is to see outside again simple perfect logic. Of course, in almost all cars these days the intensity of the dash illumination can be adjusted. But this is a particularly nice feature for long motorway journeys  because everything in the car goes away except for the speedometer. The  warning lights still come on in the night mode oil pressure, low fuel, etc, should something go awry.

The 9-5 is a decent  looking car. It has lost some of the quirkiness that has defined Saab for a long time. And, unfortunately , that may be more of a problem, its just too normal too good too mainstream. 

Like previous Saabs though it still addresses practicality first, and styling second, granted not to the anally retentive levels of the old Volvo anti-styling brigade,  but  more thought was given to interior room and trunk space than racy styling or odd tweaks here and there too make it look better. 

Under the bonnet, normal maintenance shouldn't be too difficult. Everything is pretty accessible by 21st century standards at least, though absoultely shown up by my old Morris Marina why you could stand in the engine bay and take the plugs out of that. Tune-ups, belt changes and checking the oil all should be pretty straightforward. But that doesn't mean you won't pay relatively dearly for them. At the top end of the range here the 9000 and 9-5 can be a touch pricey to look after. Though Im sure they will look cheap against an Audi never mind a BM or a Merc.

Saabs 9-5's can be  expensive to repair. And the 9-5/9000 does not perhaps  have an exemplary record. Though a lot of the grief is the less important components, just more little hassles. 

Saab have proved like there Swedish counter parts to be tough old boots and can live to hyper mileages if looked after. With a motor as complex as the HOT Turbo though its perhaps best to make sure someone who really knows checks it out.  After that remember Turbos like nice clean oil, so change very regularly, change for high quality oil and keep your finger crossed.  For the brave a high mileage Turbo Saab can be got for low money with loads of life left in the mechanics and loads of verve left in the performance.

The Saab 9-5 maybe an aging design, but still a damn nice car to drive. It's got an excellent feel on the road,  comfort, an a great safety record, and considering the size and performance a relatively economical engine (well at least the possibility of being one).  

On the downside, it's expensive to buy, upper middle class to fix, and the interior is getting slightly out of date.  It seems to me to hit a middle ground bang on. It more stylish, more expensive to buy fix and run than a Vauxhall not quite sure why though, but not perhaps in some eyes quite as stylish as a Merc BM Audi, though cheaper to run fix buy. 

You pays your money you takes your choice  But, if you're looking for a car that's comfortable, fun to drive, very safe, and a little different, it's well worth checking out. The Aero is a sporty, spirited performer  and  yet obsessed with safety. It is a dependable Swede loaded with power not to be used with  reckless abandon, but with a cool, efficient detachment..

 

Tree costs extra

 

 

Pros :
- Still Unique Saabness.
- Super powerful engine with unnoticeable turbo lag.
- Good interior.
- Sports-car brakes.
- As safe as a Volvo.

Cons :
- Styling old school.
- hint of torque steer.
- Quirky dash layout.
- Pricey 
- Not as refined as, possibly, a Lexus or a German.


Rivals :
Alfa Romeo 166; BMW 5 Series;  Lexus IS300; Mercedes Benz E Class;  Rover 75; Volvo S80

 


 

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UK Car Road Test Saab 9.5 Hot Aero 2002

UK Car Road Test Keywords: Sports Hatchback9.5 Hot Aero