Saab Automobile AB company has had a turbulent recent history and to call the last two years confusing and uncertain would be a grave understatement. Saab was jettisoned from its corporate parent during GM’s 2009 bankruptcy reorganization and appeared fatally wounded. Would Saab rise from the ashes of this melt down? The next couple of years that followed were not all depressing.
The hopeful story was the release of an all new second generation 9-5 sedan. Another exciting piece of news was Saab hiring a young star designer, Jason Castriota, in 2010 as brand’s design chief. Saab was on a good streak that started in 2006 with a show stopping Aero X concept, continued by a bold new production 9-5 sedan, and finally culminating in an award winning Castriota penned PhoeniX concept in 2011. It seemed that Saab will shine again, but financial and political forces would ultimately be too strong to overcome.
The 9-5 sedan offers a pair of turbo charged engines that follow Saab’s turbo power tradition dating back as far as 1977. The V6 provides plentiful performance, while the 4 cylinder delivers adequate acceleration and excellent economy. This is a big and comfortable car with a very cavernous trunk. The interior design draws inspiration from Saabs of long ago and makes for a very unique environment.
The dash is as driver oriented as ever and the gauges and heads-up display make a strong link to Saab’s aviation heritage. At the time, the desirability of this car would be limited to a population of well off Saab aficionados. After all, a well optioned example can sticker for more than $50,000. However, this car is critically acclaimed (some critics compare it’s performance and demeanor to class leading Audi A6 3.0T) and it marks a final chapter in company’s history. The height of its desirability is likely still years away.
This car went on sale in United States 2010 in Aero trim and solely with a turbo charged V6 motor and Saab XWD all wheel drive system. The 2011 model year brought variants with a turbo 4 cylinder, front wheel drive, and manual 6 speed transmission choices. It is extremely difficult to track down how many of these cars have been built, but VIN decoders can shed some light on this subject.
According to this site, there were at least 8,883 sedans built for world wide consumption. It’s not clear how many reached American shores, but the numbers are small. There is another twist to the story. Saab designed, tested and unveiled a wagon version of this car: the 9-5 SportCombi. They even had North American spec test cars running around Sweden SportCombi test car. This Combi is arguably the most seductive wagon of all time. However, it looks like it never reached actual production. A test vehicle like this would be extremely rare and a desirable collector item.
The Saab brand has a very strong enthusiast following. This car represents one of its highest technological and design achievements at the most difficult time in company’s history. The wider enthusiast population should recognize it as a significant piece of the automotive landscape. If you already own one, do not let the canceled warranty scare you into getting rid of it. And if you are attending a liquidation sale that includes new 9-5 sedans, you should definitely take advantage of the opportunity.
Andre Smirnov is a Software Engineer by trade and a life-long automotive enthusiast. On the weekends – you may find him at a car show, an auction, watching a race, or tinkering in the garage. When not working or spending time with the family – he often scours the internet and other media for various automotive, mechanical, and computer related information.