Second-Gen 9-5 Was A Good Car – But, Sadly, Saab Went Belly Up

About eight years ago, Swedish automaker Saab began manufacturing its second-generation 9-5 model, which was way overdue and a direct rival to the Volvo S80, Audi A6, BMW 5-Series and Mercedes E-Class.

Unfortunately, the car never got a chance to really get off the line properly, as production ended with only 11,280 units in the clear, due to Saab’s financial issues which dragged on for a while and its eventual insolvency.

But where does that leave the actual product? Well, according to Doug DeMuro, the 9-5 is a pretty good car, with no shortage of noteworthy quirks and features.

For example, did you know that by pressing its ‘Night Panel’ button, you won’t be just shutting off the backlight on various gauges and displays, but also their functionality? For example, once you press it, the fuel gauge needle drops to empty. Another interesting quirk is the alternative digital speedometer, which is made to look like something you’d find in the cockpit of a plane.

As for how it drives, this 2.0T BioPower (E85) version is surprisingly quick, thanks to its 220 PS (217 HP) and 350 Nm (260 lb-ft) of torque. As for handling, DeMuro felt that it was fine, while adding that it drove like you’d expect and that it’s sportier than regular mid-size sedans, despite the slightly vague steering feel. Which is no surprise, as it was based on GM’s all-new Epsilon platform that also underpinned the first-gen Opel/Vauxhall Insignia and, with a few updates, Cadillac’s XT4 crossover.

In the end, while the 9-5 is still a decent enough car even by today’s standards, the average consumer, presuming that he/she still remembers it exists, will just skip it now that the company is dead.


  • ErnieB

    Still think it looks great! Sad Saab went belly up..

  • carlbolt

    The back seat is surprisingly cramp considering the size of the car.

    • Matt

      It’s probably not bad, but Doug is 6.4” so he makes most cars look small.

    • Speedlasagne

      Not at all. Backseats legroom is amazing for even over an average height person and for the family of three with the child seat the whole cabin is like a concert hall. I have compared it with Audi 6 from a coworker and 9-5 has like 18 cm more space between backseat and front driver’s seat when adjusted to my height. Also all the seats are really comfortable, front having electric height, lumbar and shoulder support. Doug is just not an average tall guy, so it looks a bit cramped.

  • Bash

    I’ve always wanted to drive that car, read so many articles about how good it is.

  • pcurve

    gorgeous car.

    • Mr_Fanta_Pants

      Agreed. Still to this day, it’s stunning. Especially in Aero trim.

  • supermanuel

    Rewriting history are we? SAAB went bankrupt did it? Nothing to do with GM? OK…

  • WalthamDan

    We still see a few of these driving around from time to time and they look good even today. What looks even better is the rare 9-4X. I still think if Saab could have held on a bit longer they would have turned a corner as the crossover craze was about to go in full swing. A Saab / Subaru partnership should have happened. One focused on entry to mid AWD offerings, the other higher end AWD offerings.

    • Nordschleife

      I see a navy blue on my way to work with the turbine rims and I must say it looks striking in a good way.

  • Nick099

    Saab and Subie were controlled by GM.

    GM was in the middle of a successful reorganization when the anticipated finacial crisis arrived.

    Suddenly all payroll stopped due to imposed “mark to market” rule.

    GM and other slipped into bankruptcy as Pols would not lift rule.

    Obama skirted bankruptcy law and used taxpayer money to takeover GM and Chrysler.

    He installed all cronies on the boards.

    Pontiac, Saab.. killed. Subie interest sold to Toyota.

    Saab may have been turned around.. .we’ll never know… thanks to the Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

    • Marty

      Do you know how many years we heard “Saab can be turned around”?
      They barely managed to survive for decades, never managing to make a car that could actually refill the brand and deliver what a Saab was supposed to do.

      The new 9-5 was a good car, and had some of that. But it was way too little, way too late. And from what we saw of the new 9-3, it would just have drained the brand even more.

      • Nick099

        True. But wasn’t the aeronautics and truck divisions doing really well? I believe they survive today., right?

        • Marty

          Indeed, that’s my point. Both the trucks (Scania) and the defense company (the ”real Saab”) were and are world leaders in their respective fields. They covered for Saab Automobil until GM gradually took over. I remember in the 90’s, when some people at Scania said that the cars were more or less a hobby project. 🙂

          (But the ”real Saab” and Scania have nothing to do with each other anymore. They just share some trademarks. And the Saab cars just milked those trademark without actually adding anything to it.)

          • Nick099

            I see.

    • Enter Ranting

      You’re blaming the demise of SAAB on Obama?! Is there nothing he’s not to blame for?

      • Nick099

        That is the history. Look it up.

        • Enter Ranting

          How do you think SAAB got into the position where Obama even had the chance to “kill” it? Please! SAAB had a LENGTHY history of lousy quality, unreliability and a VERY limited product portfolio. If anything, GM stretched out its earned demise.

          • Nick099

            You still have not looked at the history of what occurred… .by your comment.

            Look it up

          • Enter Ranting

            Don’t need to look it up, Nick. I lived it. Let it go…

          • Nick099

            You are the one who responded to me. Not the other way around.
            If you “lived it” your eyes and ears must have been closed.

      • Nick099

        Climate change.

  • Nick099

    Cause it’s different from the cookie cutter designs.

  • D3X

    One car that still gets me to look is the 9–3 Turbo X(especially the SportCombi). The wheels and the overall sport package really looked great, even though it shared the same platform as the GM Cobalt G6/Opel, it definitely didn’t resemble one another.

    • Marty

      Yes, that’s the only new 9-3 that looked like a Saab. But it took 5 years for 9-3 to get there – most other brands have a replacement ready by then.

  • Frase

    Being a Saab fanatic, I pretty much love every one of them, but the 9-5 really stood out to me. Probably one of my most favourite cars ever. Inside and out this thing oozed modern, out of left field thinking. Despite it being from 2009 I’d still say it’s as modern looking as any German machine today.

    A real tragedy to see such an aspirational marque die out. Heaven hoping someone, someday digs it up and tries again.

  • Speedlasagne

    I have 9-5 NG Vector TTiD (2.0 diesel, 190 hp, 400Nm torque) for 7 years now. After dynamic 160.000 km it still drives really good, pulls in 4th, 5th and 6th gear like no other car, it is fast, frugal (7,2 l/100 km) and comfortable at speeds well over 160 km/h, back seats are great and a legroom is amazing in comparison to many similar sized cars. Yes, it was expensive but looking back also worth evey cent. It has its quirks, but it has even more cool features and still great overall design. If they will be making those today it would be my choice again over any contemporary Audi, BMW or Mercedes.

  • erly5

    Was, and still is, a great looking car. Just a shame GM let it die.

  • Tumbi Mtika

    What happened to Saab and to Pontiac is what made me hate GM and is why I still hate them to this day.

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