Saab 9-5 Saloon first drive

  • Radical styling turns heads in a sector with little flair
  • 2.0-litre diesel has 157bhp and 350Nm of pulling power
  • CO2 emissions of 179g/km and £200 cost to tax per annum

The Saab 9-5 has certainly got appeal. Everywhere the 9-5 went it turned heads. This is largely down to the exterior being a bit more radical in the design stakes than rivals including the VW Passat, the Ford Mondeo and the Volvo S80.

Under the bonnet our test car was powered by a 2.0-litre TiD diesel. It has an output of 157bhp and a pulling power of 350Nm. Power throughout is reasonable but there are times when you find the car wanting a little more oomph. The car feels a little heavy for this engine. However, flick the shifter into manual, use the steering-wheel mounted paddles and the Saab performs a little better as the six-speed box in manual mode gives the car a little more flexibility.

There is plenty of front-end grip but it is not as nimble and agile in the corners as some of its rivals. The feel from the steering is vague giving the driver limited information on what the front wheels are doing. This is a complaint that can be directed at many large executive cars. If you want driving enjoyment mixed with comfort and refinement then the BMW 5-Series is still king in this sector.

Performance figures will not set your pulse racing with excitement but are reasonable - the 9-5 with this diesel engine will get from zero to 60mph in 9.6s and it has a top speed of 130mph. It will not achieve top marks in outright performance or handling ability but this car mixes comfort with great motorway cruising ability.

Aimed at executives, this car is a left field option. Otherwise choose the default setting in this category by opting for one of the more traditional German premium brands  including Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW.

All-important CO2 emissions for the 9-5 with the 2.0-litre diesel engine come in at 179g/km while the P11D rating is 27% for company car drivers. Tax per annum costs £200 when choosing this model as it is in band I.

Fuel return is fairly good - 41.5mpg on an average journey means that the 9-5 is a viable option when considering the Saab as opposed to one of its rivals. Residually the 9-5 in the Vector SE trim with the auto gearbox should retain around 60% of its value. Keep the car for three years and 30,000 miles and this model will retain around 42%.

Driver comfort in the cockpit is very good. The seats give plenty of lumbar support to your back and the side supports are raised giving great support when cornering. There are numerous cubbies for loose change and there's a deep storage box in the central console.

Our test car was in Vector SE trim and starts from £28,565, however add the cost options including premium natural leather sport seats, parchment £2,225, Metallic paint £540, Satnav and media system £1,230 and DAB radio £310. This brings the price up to a price of £32,870 for our test car.


Skoda Superb

Press one button on the tailgate and the bootlid opens, press another and the whole tailgate (including the glass) lifts. And what a boot - 565 litres with seats in place.

VW Passat

A practical saloon seating four adults and comes with 565-litres of loadspace - more than enough space for at least two sets of golf clubs and a couple of soft bags.

Volvo S80

There's no estate version of the S80 but there is plenty of standard kit to keep driver and passengers happy on long journeys.