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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: June 9, 2010 @ 6:33 am

    Live Launch Blog: Saab 9-5

    Michael McAleer

    Wednesday 9th June: Trollhatten, Sweden


    You can’t really help yourself rooting for Saab. It is a little difficult to be impartial when you hear the story of how close Saab came to annihilation and when you listen to the infectious enthusiasm of Saab’s new Chairman, Spyker boss Victor Muller.

    Saab's new Chairman Victor Muller

    I found myself having a cup of Earl Grey tea with the giant Dutchman last night and as much as these guys usually smile at journalist’s musings on the future of the brand they own, you get a sense that this guy really loves cars and isn’t afraid of being adventurous.

    If you doubt this, then look at some of Spyker’s creations. I, like many journalists here have quite a deep seated passion about Saabs of old and have implored the brand to produce interesting cars again. “As long as I am involved, there will always be interesting Saabs,” came the reply, followed by a reassuring bump of my mug.

    Earlier that day at the press conference, he has spoken about how Saab could now really make decisions about Saab and that how Saab had lost its “Saabishness”. “We don’t really need new customers, we just want the old ones back,” said Muller, claiming that producing 250,000 – 270,000 per year would be about where Saab’s level should be.

    You get a sense that the Saab 9-5, which looked to all the world like it would never happen, is a car that they are quite proud of, but that it is also something of a legacy of a time they might like to forget. It is without doubt, a car with a strong GM influence and you can tell from use of Opel engines and the Opel Insignia steering wheel and gearstick. The styling is safe in some areas, but more dramatic in others. The chrome light surrounds and the rear LED lights have a faint whiff of Halfords to them, but they do separate the car from the likes of the BMW 5-Series and Audi A6, which have become increasingly bland in recent years as they become more mainstream.

    We drove the 160hp 2.0-litre diesel yesterday, with front wheel drive and a suspension set-up which thankfully, we won’t get. In Ireland, we are getting a sportier set-up and we hope that this won’t wallow about like the car we drove yesterday did. It was a car that went where you pointed it, eventually, but not without a whole lot of pitching. This car’s set up couldn’t have been more geared towards the American market, where Saab is about to embark on a major charm offensive in July.

    Later this morning, we travel to a track to try out the more sportier set-up, a car which we will get in Ireland and we’ve also to try the higher-powered 190hp TTiD and the V6 petrol version too. More later……

    Saab's new 9-5

    We have arrived at a secret handling circuit and it is lashing rain. This should be a good test of the car’s dynamics.

    Right folks, that is all for the Saab 9-5 today. Make sure to check in on Wednesday for the full review in Motors.

    Coming here on Friday…..BMW 5-Series Touring in Munich

    • Mumblin' Deaf Ro says:

      Thanks Paddy – looking forward to hearing an Irish perspective on the new 9-5. I drive a classic 900 turbo and would love to see Saab return to form. Reviews I have read of the new 9-5 have been largely benign with some criticism of the gloomy dash panel (apparently a supplier let Saab down at the last minute and they had to use some cheap part) and the remote steering feel. I think the name of the game is for Saab to get to its breakeven point and I expect that future iterations of the 9-5 will distance the car more from its GM roots. VM has even hinted at a Viggen version, which would be great.

    • Kynos says:

      I’m delighted Saab were saved. Hate to see any good company, especially car companies, go down. They really do represent certain pinnacles of human achievement and make me proud to be one. A human. Never driven a Saab would you believe but admire the company its products and antecedents. I’m very glad they’ll live to fly another day. Must write more on this blog I love anything with an engine.

    • Paddy Comyn says:

      Full review is in the paper next week. What I can say is that according to Saab there will be a return to cool Saabs very soon.

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