Date: Thu, 26 Mar 1998 10:39:13 -0600
From: tsteelenopsamcom
Subject: saab 9-5: first drive

Just drove two 9-5's over the weekend. Euromotorcars in Bethesda, MD got three cars in last week, and I went down over the weekend to see them. Here are some general impressons: Exterior Fit and finish were superb, as usual. The most striking feature is the front end, with its redesigned headlamp/turn indicator units. The grille is slightly changed, with the center "SAAB" bar now shaped slightly like the frontal view of an airplane's wing. Interior Very familiar. The instrument bin is lifted almost completely from the current 900. The center console is rearranged slightly, with the radio controls a little lower than before, which I think makes them a little more ergonimically correct. The SID is redesigned as well, with the clock (now digital) integrated into the black-on-silver display. Radio controls are also mounted on the steering wheel. Shoulder room is increased over the 9000. Not sure of the exact measurements, but the difference was immediately apparent, as the dealer had a 9000 next to the 9-5 on the showroom floor. The front seats both have power adjustment, even on the base model. The SE model will have memory settings for the driver's side only. Headroom was excellent, even with the sunroof option. Rear seat legroom was good, and the rear headrests fold down (backwards) for increased rearward visibility. I still can't figure out the use of a refrigerated (45 degrees farenheit) glovebox, other than keeping a couple of sodas relatively cool in the summer. Driving Impressions The most immediate sensation is that the steering is light, but highly communicative. The whole car feels "lighter" than my '97 900. The body is TIGHT, almost Mercedes-like, and the ride is very quiet; the horn sounds like it's a mile away (from the inside, anyways). I drove both the stick and automatic. The stick was a pleasant change from my 900 - the shifting action is very smooth, and the clutch is a helluva lot lighter. The automatic has a "Sport" setting, which essentially sets the shift points a little higher than normal, and a "Winter" setting, which starts the car out in second gear. The Light Pressure Turbo 2.3 is a really nice engine - quiet, balanced, and less given to turbo lag. In the manual, the engine displayed a little "turbo surge" on the 1-2 shift. The automatic was a pleasant surprise. I went in with the expectation that an automatic on a 4 cylinder - even a turbocharged one - would be a dog, but the gearing on the automatic is damn near perfect for this engine. I'd have a hard time making a choice between the automatic and the stick. Overall Get one. It's a little more "mainstream" than previous Saabs, which IMHO, is both good and bad. The pricing for the base car, at $29,995, includes a long list of standard features, and the only options for the 9-5 are leather seating, a sunroof, and the ventilated seats. If I wasn't "upside-down" on my loan right now, I'd have one in the driveway already. -----== Posted via Deja News, The Leader in Internet Discussion ==----- Now offering spam-free web-based newsreading

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