Friday, October 8, 2010

First Test: 2011 Saab 9-5 Aero Turbo 6 XWD

2011 Saab 9-5 Aero Turbo 6 XWD

Back in February of this year, General Motors unloaded -- um, sold -- Swedish subsidiary Saab to Spyker Cars NV of the Netherlands, maker of such pricey, boutique sports cars as the $200,000-plus C8 Aileron and C8 Laviolette. The move marked a new chapter for Saab, which is now faced with separating itself from GM and creating a fresh identity that will no doubt lead to new partnerships.

Recently, Saab and BMW announced a deal that will put versions of Mini's turbocharged 1.6-liter I-4 in the next-generation 9-3. And what about the all-new 2011 9-5? Well, even though Saab's flagship sedan is the first offering to be released under Spyker ownership, it was more or less a finished product by the time the Dutch took the reigns. In other words, if the 9-5 were 30-minute brownies, they'd already been in the GM oven for 29 minutes, 59 seconds.

As a result, the third-generation 9-5 enters the U.S. market with numerous parts from the General, most notably a turbocharged 2.8-liter 300-horse V-6 and Epsilon II architecture. Dubbed "Aero Turbo 6 XWD," the introductory 9-5, replete with a Haldex all-wheel-drive system, starts at $48,490, representing the upper echelon of Saabness. Our tester came with navigation ($2395), Harmon-Kardon audio ($995), and 19-inch alloys with summer tires ($750), bringing the total to $52,530. An entry-level front-drive 9-5, fitted with a version of GM's turbocharged 2.0-liter Ecotec, will debut in the first quarter of 2011, priced at well under $40,000. And unlike the automatic-only V-6 Aero, the 2.0T will be available with a six-speed manual.

Per Saab's Guide of Quirks, the 9-5's ignition remains on the center console, although now it's now a start/stop button sans a key insert. The egg-crate air vents remain, and they're as prominent as ever. Another Saab quirk, the night panel, is alive and kicking as well, activated via a button on the left side of the center stack, a spot where most automakers place their engine start/stop buttons. Thus, several of our editors wondered why the 9-5 wasn't firing up when they tapped the night panel button. Oh, Saab, why are you so, so quirky?

source: motortrend