Saab 9-5 (2010): more first official photos

Published: 27 August 2009

We brought you the leaked first photos of the new Saab 9-5 a few weeks back. But today the veil of secrecy is lifted and we can bring you the full unexpurgated version of events: the 9-5 photo gallery and details behind the new Saab that will, next spring, finally replace one of the most geriatric cars on sale today.

Yes, the current 9-5 is – bewilderingly – 12 years old, a surefire indication of just how low down General Motors' pecking order Saab lay. Although developed under GM's tenure, the new 9-5 is a beacon of hope for the now-independent Saab. After a spell in bankruptcy protection, the Swedish car maker is ready to be taken over by supercar maker Koenigsegg. The deal is 70% complete, with a funding shortfall of some €300 million the only stumbling block to Koenigsegg taking over.

Christian von Koenigsegg's consortium has already assembled a loan of €400m-€500m from the European Investment Bank and most analysts expect the deal to go through by the autumn. It'll be a rocky ride as a minnow in a redrawn global automotive industry. The new 9-5 saloon you see here will be the first new car launched by the new, indy Saab – one of four new models promised within 18 months. Following next are the 9-5 estate, 9-4X crossover and new 9-3 compact exec.

New Saab 9-5 (2010): the lowdown

The 9-5 is based heavily around the engineering architecture of the Vauxhall Insignia, bringing front- and four-wheel drive capability. It's significantly bigger than the old 9-5, the wheelbase stretching a whopping 130mm while overall length climbs 170mm. They've not done badly to keep the kerbweight of base models just 50 kilos higher, at 1575kg.

The petrol engine line-up is as follows:

180bhp 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder, FWD
220bhp 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder, FWD or 4WD
300bhp 2.8-litre turbo V6, FWD or 4WD

And there will be a brace of 2.0-litre four-cyl diesels, in 160bhp and twin-turbo 190bhp forms. CO2 emissions on these likely company car favourites are as low as 139g/km.

Forget the engineering – let's talk about the design!

Yes, the new 9-5 is an intriguing slice of modern industrial design. It treads a fine line between historicising Saab's past and looking to a bolder future. We've seen the 9-5 in the metal and can confirm it works well – not drop-dead gorgeous, but certainly an indication that Saab has a strong future as an independent concern freed from the constraints of a global corporation.

Numerous heritage points have been cleverly updated, including the wraparound windscreen, while the outgoing 9-5's terrible chromed facial expression has been much more neatly incorporated. Best bit? That wedgy DLO – the side window graphic – has a new take on the Saab hockey stick and we love the full-width rear lights. Very modern, very Swedish.

How will the new Saab 9-5 drive?

We've yet to get behind the wheel on the road, but expect it to match the polished drive of the Insignia, with which it shares the oily bits. The suspension is heavily revised, however, and engineers told us adaptive chassis mods will offer Comfort, Sport or Intelligent mode.

Saab in fact led the chassis tuning on GM's Epsilon platform team, so we'd expect the ride and handling to be well on the pace. There are two chassis set-ups offered on Epsilon and Vauxhall/Opel are only allowed to use the sportier setting on the Insignia VXR; Saab will use this system on every 9-5.

Being a Saab, BioPower E85 models are in the pipeline for the 2011 model year.

What's the new 9-5 like inside?

Looks pretty different from the Insignia, doesn't it? Cue sighs of relief all round. Saab cabins are famed for their design, and only the stalks and steering wheel buttons are carried over from the Vauxhall; every other detail is different. There are numerous nods to the history books, including a night panel function and a Scando-cool green illumination to the dials. And just check out the air vent mesh effect that continues around the dials. Very cool.

The new 9-5 is resolutely a four-door. Product chief Magnus Hansson told us: 'Not many of our customers in the 9-5 segment wanted a hatch. It's more in the mid segment, the 9-3 market, where they want a five-door, so we've stuck with a sedan and estate for 9-5. We would definitely consider a third bodystyle, but I think our money is better spent elsewhere.'

There are naturally goodies galore: keyless ignition, auto-bendy lights, a limited slip diff option on Saab's 4wd models – and you can even expect hybrid models in the longer run (breathed on by turbochargers, naturally) and stop-start is under development too.

When can I buy the new Saab 9-5?

Spring 2010, once production starts in April. Expect prices to slide just under the Audi A6 against which the 9-5 has been closely benchmarked. Will this 9-5 go on to sell for the next 12 years? Apparently not. Saab say it has a 6-7 planned lifecycle and it is gunning for a 3% market share, hoping for an average of 45,000 sales a year.

The 9-5 estate follows later in 2010; globally it is expected to account for 40% of sales, and an Allroad-aimed 9-5X is under consideration. All models will be built in Trollhattan; under GM ownership, it was going to be built in Germany alongside the Insignia.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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