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Saab 9-5 (2008)

Published: 01 November 2006

Saab 9-5: the lowdown

The 9-5 – the first all-new Saab since 2001 – is inching closer. Due in autumn 2008, the 9-5 is clean sheet of paper design, with a sleek look, new chassis and new engines. Codenamed SB650, the new 9-5 will be sold as a saloon and estate. And it won't come a moment too soon. Today's saloon was launched in 1997, which makes it a pensioner in car years.

How does it look?

Stunning, according to insiders, and our exclusive images from Radovan Varicak. The front end is very much lifted from the 9X concept car, the Saab supercar that stole the 2006 Geneva show. The production car echoes its jutting nose, aggressive vents and that sculpted bonnet flowing into the enlarged grille. Expect blacked out pillars to ensure coupe-like glasshouse. Sources liken the 9-5 to Mercedes' CLS.

Under the skin

The 9-5 will share the new Epsilon II architecture with Opel and Saturn, but it won't be just a stretched Vectra. GM has engineered great flexibility into the architecture, enabling different lengths, wheelbases and tracks. Components will differ, too. 'Modular component sets allow us to create vehicles to suit different brand values, from the cost conscious to the dynamic,' said GM Europe boss Carl-Peter Forster. 'There may be more than one suspension set up, different steering racks, and three levels of electronics.' Saab gets the plushest Epsilon components, with a double wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear axle biased towards sporty ride and handling. Air springs will also be offered.

The engine room

The architecture also supports four-wheel drive, to help Saab keep up with increasingly ballistic German outputs. Aside from the latest four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, the 9-5 will get a new V6 common rail diesel that's under development, while the blown petrol V6 should reach the 350bhp mark to raise the Aero bar. Saab will also step up its biofuel push with the new model.

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine

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