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Saab 9-5 (2009): the spy photos

By Tim Pollard

Spy shots

10 March 2009 10:17

Here is the new car that Saab desperately needs to give it a hope of survival: the new-for-2009 9-5. Today’s 9-5 is of pensionable age, at a scarcely credible 12 years old, neatly summarising all that is wrong with Saab’s ageing product line-up. It’s difficult to be competitive when your exec offering is twice as old as the oldest competition.

The new 9-5, captured in these spyshots direct from winter testing in homeland Scandinavia, will be shown at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show ahead of a planned showroom launch in winter 2009. Prices are likely to start at around £22,000.

The new 9-5 is all well and good, but I thought Saab was in jeopardy?

Ah yes, the financial crisis. It’s no good getting all breathlessly excited about this latest scoop – Saab is currently negotiating a tightrope walk between closure and survival as an independent business. Stricken GM has cut its ties, publicly declaring it will let Saab go by the end of the year and Trollhattan is desperately trying to piece together an investment package to go it alone.

Word at the Geneva motor show – and we spoke to the men at the very top of GM Europe and Saab – was that it’s touch and go. Gone are the profligate investment funds and private equity groups who have pumped billions into car ventures in the past decade, but Saab remains hopeful it can present a credible business plan as an independent car maker.

What can we tell about the new 9-5 from these spy photos?

The fastback style rear window is apparent in our latest scoop pictures; the new 2009 9-5 is said to have a coupe-cool, low-slung stance – not that dissimilar to the Jaguar XF’s. It’s also tipped to be taller and longer (the wheelbase alone is stretched by 14cm) to free up the interior space to make the 9-5 a real alternative to the Volvo S80 or Audi A6.

The 9-5 will appear first as this saloon, but a touring estate is definitely in the product plan. Both are based on the GM Epsilon II architecture from the Vauxhall/Opel Insignia, so we can expect front-wheel drive with the option of 4wd on higher powered Aero models once the global recession has passed.

Senior executives have confirmed to CAR that the focus will be on downsized, four-cylinder turbocharged engines, but E85 biofuels will remain an option.

Inside, our sources have revealed that the new 9-5 builds on Saab’s traditional cockpits. So you’ll get an ergonomically sound, dished dashboard, that distinctive black-pillared, wraparound glazing and a – claimed – big jump in interior quality.