Saab’s new flagship promises a lot and looks great but is let down by its suspension
A NEW flagship is waving the Saab flag again in Australia. The all-new 9-5 is the first newcomer since the Swedish brand was released from more than 20 years of suffering under General Motors, and comes with the promise of value pricing, impressive quality and styling that breaks away from the origami school of creasing in European design.
Now, if only they can get the ride and handling right.
The 9-5 is a good looking car that’s noticeably bigger than any previous model to wear the badge. Its bottom line which ranges from $71,900 – helped by a Luxury Car Tax break for an eco-friendly diesel engine – will help to get it on shopping lists against everything from theBMW5 Series and Benz’s E-Class to the Volvo S80. Saab Cars Australia is planning a slow burn on the 9-5, and the rest of its comeback plan for that matter, only predicting around 100 sales this year.
‘‘ Our brand is not something we shout about. We want to talk to people individually,’’ says Steve Nicholls, managing director of Saab Cars Australia. He says the point of difference for the 9-5 is the way it looks.
‘‘ All our communciations are based around design. That’s the key message,’’ says Nicholls.
The starting price s helped by a diesel that returns a frugal 6.8 litres/100km, but even the petrol-powered Vector is affordable (for the class) at $75,900. The flagship Aero Turbo6XWDis priced from $94,900 and includes allwheel-drive and most of the good luxury stuff, although a back-seat DVD system is an extra-cost option.
Good stuff on the Vector includes a head-up instrument display and chilled glovebox in addition to the usual satnav, Harmon-Kardon sound system, leather trim, bi-Xenon lamps and more. The top-line car is boosted by park assist, sports seats, cornering headlights, and more. Every 9-5 comes with keyless entry and the start button is in the console between the seats, the traditional location for the ignition key in any Saab.
When Saab was part of theGM family, the company was badly neglected. That meant investment and development was always limited, so Saab is playing catch-up.
Even so, its all-turbo engine philosophy is sound, it promises body strength and safety as good as anything in the class, and there is independent rear suspension – but not in the turbodiesel.
Engine outputs are 118kW/ 350Nm for the diesel, 162/350 in the petrol four and 221/400 in the 2.8-litre V6, with all cars
AT Carsguide we don’t believe that gratuitous flips off barely hidden ramps are essential to make a good car film. Genuine wheel-twirling skills, real sound and a half-decent plot all help get a spot in the top 10.
Steve McQueen, is babysitting a mob informant— between squiring a young Jacqueline Bisset— in 1968 San Francisco when he’s followed by the hitmen looking to get rid of the informant. The chase is still one of the longest committed to celluloid and features two classic American muscle cars – a Pontiac GTO and a Ford Mustang, the latter being McQueen’s steed.
Robert De Niro leads a surly cast through this 1998 European heist flick that has plenty of car-based action within a decent plot. Anyone doubting the film’s intent will soon be hooked by the powersliding Audi A8 limo on cobblestone streets, with Peugeots, old Mercs, Citroens and aBMWM5 all taking turns to tear up the bitumen.
3 THE BLUES BROTHERS
A long-time 1980 favourite that totalled an untold number of American sedans, a motorhome and a shopping mall with its over-the-top car chases. Born out of a Saturday
Night Live sketch, Jake and Elwood Blues lead police, hicks and Nazis on a merry chase in the Bluesmobile. The car (one of 13 used in the film) was a 1974 Dodge Monaco sedan, with the 250kW 440 cubic-inch Magnum squad car package.
4 THE FRENCH CONNECTION
Gene Hackman, who won an Oscar for his role— one of five awarded to the 1971 film— chases a hijacked train through traffic-choked New York streets. One of the better, and certainly the grittiest, chases committed to film as two cops try to intercept a heroin shipment coming from France.
5 THE BOURNE IDENTITY
The 2002 black-ops thriller with an amnesiac twist has become one of the most popular action flicks around not least for its small-car chase through the streets of Paris. An elderly Mini takes Jason Bourne and terrified owner Marie Kreutz down narrow stairways, through tight streets, smashing phone boxes, out- foxing the gendarmes and delivering our hero to safety for the rest of the trilogy.
The opening scene of 2008’s second Daniel Craig ‘‘ Bond, James Bond’’ 007 adventure sees an Aston Martin DBS engaged in a rollicking car chase with bad guys in Alfa Romeos. If you can’t stand seeing beautiful Italian or English machines being monstrously scarred, look away now, Ben Collins (the recently revealed Stig) does a good job with the Aston as a 007 stunt driver.
7 THE ITALIAN JOB, (original)
Michael Caine and a stack of Minis are the stars of this 1969 caper film about a gold heist in Turin, Italy. The job is to steal $4 million of gold and involves a clever plan to distract the police while the crooks get away through the streets and sewers in their Minis. 8 GONE IN 60 SECONDS The 1974 original and the 2000 remake both have plenty of worthwhile machinery over which to drool. However, when forced to choose one version, Angelina Jolie and the modern
‘‘ Eleanor’’, a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500, swing the balance in favour of the modern. The original film, which had ‘‘ Eleanor’’ as a 1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1, was famous for destroying 93 cars in its 34-minute chase scene.
9 SMOKEY& THE BANDIT
This 1977 film, directed by Hal Needham, did more for the Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am than theGMmarketing department ever could. As ‘ The Bandit’ Burt Reynolds and Sally Field lead the authorities, including lawman Sheriff Buford T. Justice (played by Jackie Gleason) astray and away from bootlegged booze. Starring a trio of black 1977 Pontiac Firebird TransAm
‘‘ Special Editions’’.
10 DUKES OF HAZZARD
The 2005 film version of the 1980s TV Series did little to advance the world of scriptwriting or plot development but some of the driving scenes more than made up for that. Raw footage from the making of the movie on YouTube is testament to the stunt driver’s skill.
Bonding: Daniel Craig and 007’s ubiquitous Aston Martin DBS. Above, a re-creation of the ‘‘Eleanor’’ Mustang from Gone in 60 Seconds