Saab 9-5 – New Face for Top Saab
Saab’s 9-5, last launched all new for 1998 model year, is getting a bit long in the tooth, and an all-new iteration is still some way off. In today’s auto market a five year life cycle is long, let alone a seven year cycle. But the venerable 9-5 still has years to go before it is all new.
[Apparently, Kirk Kerkorian (now owner of 9.9% of GM) is asking serious questions about whether Saab should be part of General Motors or not. Does this mean further deemphasizing Saab, killing Saab, or spinning Saab off? Don’t know at the moment. But, that’s another issue.]
Saab hopes to generate some interest in the meantime with a 2006MY refresh that went on sale in the States in December 2005. Updates include interior and exterior styling changes and refinements to the platform and engine lineup. Our first look at the update was at the 2005 Frankfurt auto show in September.
Are 9-5 Changes Enough to Keep it Competitive?
Among the exterior changes are a new hood, fascias, front and rear lamps, front fenders, and tailgate on the wagon and decklid on the sedan. Rather than offering three models this time, there is only one. This one model, however, offers more power than the outgoing car with a 260HP version of the 2.3L turbo four-cylinder, a bump of 10HP over the 2005MY version. A five-speed manual transmission remains standard, with an optional five-speed automatic.
Inside, there is an updated instrument panel, interior door handles, steering wheel, and door panel trim inserts. Seventeen-inch wheels and tires are standard. Optional packages include a Sport package (sport chassis, sport seats, metallic interior accents) and a Visibility package (xenon headlamps, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and rear parking assist). Pricing is reduced compared with the 2005MY range, according to Saab math, and the sedan launches with a base price of $34,820 and the wagon with a base price of $35,820 (both include destination charges).
Given that the latest 9-5 is mostly a cosmetic change, the basic configuration of a front-wheel-drive unitized wagon or sedan remains the same, continuing to use a MacPherson strut setup in front and an independent multilink setup in the rear. It is available as a sedan or wagon.