Saab 9-5: Fourth report

9 Nov, 2011 2:00pm Graeme Lambert
For 
Many have lamented the lack of a traditional hatchback in the Saab range, but the 9-5 saloon has shown it is extremely practical. The boot holds up to 513 litres of luggage, while long loads can be accommodated either with the ski-hatch or the split-fold rear seats.
Against 
The recent production stoppage has affected parts supply – which has meant that getting hold of a replacement windscreen has proven impossible. Thankfully our stone chip hasn’t spread into a crack, but that’s a real possibility as the weather gets colder – so a new screen is now an absolute priority.

Saab’s tale of woe in recent months has resembled a horror movie – but it hasn’t spoiled our enjoyment of classy saloon

Life with the Saab has been like a Hollywood movie recently. Not because of anything the 9-5 has done wrong, but because in the past couple of months the firm has experienced more twists, turns and heart-stopping moments than your average box office blockbuster.

The Trollhattan factory in Sweden hasn’t produced a car since April, rescue deals have crumbled at the last moment and bosses have been close to declaring bankruptcy – it’s enough to have a Saab owner on the edge of their seat, waiting for the next shocking plot twist.

However, the Chinese pair of Pang Da and Youngman have now had their bid to buy the company accepted. As a result, Saab now has the cash to restart production and plan for the future.

Fortunately, running the 9-5 Aero has been a lot less traumatic, with the only problems being heavy wear to the front tyres and a stone chip in the windscreen.

The latter happened a few weeks ago, but getting one of the seven types of screen available for this car has so far been impossible – although the fact Saab is now paying its suppliers will help. A track day at Castle Combe circuit in Wiltshire, meanwhile, played a part in the worn tyre tread.

At just over 15,000 miles, the car’s computer informed me that a service was due. The recommended intervals are 18,000 miles, but our car’s hard life had obviously taken its toll, so it was booked into my local dealer, Squire Furneaux of Dunstable, Beds.

The customer service was impeccable – I even received a text message two days before the appointment as a friendly reminder. And despite the uncertainty facing Saab, the staff were upbeat and helpful.

After two hours, I was handed a hefty bill for £297.50, but the car was returned fully valeted and since the oil change, the gruff engine even seems quieter. It’s still proving economical, too, recording an impressive 38.4mpg despite my congested commute into our central London office.

The 9-5 has also demonstrated its practicality, as the 513-litre boot and split-fold rear seats made light work of a recent trip to Ikea, swallowing up some furniture.

Disappointingly, the Saab has suffered some battle scars, although most of the blemishes were sorted with a touch-up stick. More annoying is the damage I picked up on the rear wheel when exiting a tight car park last week – especially since the wheels were unblemished up to that point.

It won’t be long, now, until the Aero goes to a new owner, but like the best movies, I’ve enjoyed every second of my time with the car. And with the safeguarding of the company’s future, it looks like this is one story that is going to have a happy ending.

Extra Info

“Few executive saloons can match the Saab’s stylish kerb appeal. So it’s a shame the car’s gruff engine, firm ride and lifeless chassis let it down. Hopefully the brand’s new owners can turn the 9-5 into a class contender.”
Ross Pinnock, Road test editor

Key specs

  • On fleet since: April 2011
  • Price when new: £32,175
  • Running costs: 38.4mpg
  • Mileage: 15,890
  • Engine / Power: 2.0-litre 4cyl/188bhp
  • Trade-in value now: £17,150
  • Insurance Group / Quote: 29
  • Costs: Service (£297.50), touch-up stick (£6.95)
  • Any problems?: Stone-chipped windscreen
  • Equipment: Metallic paint (£540), tinted windows (£310), bi-xenon headlights (£410), Convenience Plus Pack (£515), detachable tow bar (£558), DriveSense chassis (£975)