Excuse me for being excited, but it's been a while. And by a while, I mean 12 years. And by "it" I mean the introduction of a new 9-5. We've heard a lot about the car that is to save Saab (if anything will) here on CarThrottle, but Saab has finally put out it's official set of press releases for the new 9-5 and now we've got all the little details to share with you. On paper at least it looks extremely promising in a lot of regards, but the proof's in the pudding... or at least behind the wheel. Still, get 'em while they're hot: new Saab 9-5 specifications! As you probably know, the new 9-5 sits on the Epsilon II chassis shared with the Opel Insignia. As expected, it shares a few things in common - but if you've been reading up about the Insignia, you'll know that's a good thing. Initially the 9-5 will be available with a range of 3 gas and one diesel engines of outputs ranging from 160bhp-300bhp, all with their own benefits and charms. There's an emphasis on efficient power, so all engines are turbocharged and all the gearboxes - automatic or manual - have 6 ratios, which is a nice upgrade. All the gas engines have laser-finished cylinder bores, as well as piston oil squirters and sodium-filled exhaust valves for heat dispersion. Starting at the bottom, there's a surprisingly small 1.6L gas turbo motor. That seems like hardly enough displacement for such a large car, but Saab has a few tricks up their sleeve for this tiny motor. It utilizes an iron block mated to an aluminum head for durability under boost. The aluminum oil pan is integral to the block for added strength, as well as chain-driven hollow camshafts for lighter reciprocating mass and durability. This undersized motor also has a turbocharger and air-to-air intercooler, but gets by with port fuel injection. Still, power output is impressive: 180bhp (132kW) and 170lb-ft (230nM) of torque with a wide peak from 2,200-5,500rpm with a low 8.8:1 compression ratio. The 1.6 Turbo also allows "overboost" under ideal conditions (high octane gas, atmospheric conditions, etc) for up to five seconds which raises peak torque to 196lb-ft (266nM). Fuel economy is impressive at 7.6L/100km, and emissions aren't too bad, rating in at 179g/km. With this engine, the 9-5 makes it's way to 100km/h in 9.5 seconds, which isn't bad for a big sedan with a 1.6L engine. Slotting in above that (again, in my mind and suited to my personal tastes) is the 2.0L diesel motor. This is a fully modern unit (unlike some of Saab's recent diesels, which have apparently been pretty awful), using an iron block and aluminum head for durability. Dual overhead camshafts are driven by chains like god intended, and fuel is delivered via a common-rail direct injection setup. The turbocharger is a variable-vane geometry setup to boost low-rpm throttle response and driveability. With an 17.5:1 compression ratio, power is 160bhp, a bit behind the modern German 2.0L's (BMW's 2.0L makes 204bhp, VW's is up around 180bhp) but torque is pretty satisfying at 350nM (258lb-ft.) What's really impressive about the diesel 9-5 are emissions and fuel consumption: just 5.3L/100km is amazing, and 139g/km is absurdly low. Thumbs up to this motor! Back to the gas engines, above the 1.6 Turbo sits the revamped 2.0T. Although based on the previous 2.0L Turbo used in the new 9-3, the 2.0T has been treated to enough upgrades and enhancements to practically be a new engine. Using all-aluminum construction for light weight, the 2.0T also has dual overhead camshafts operated by maintenance-free cam chains. What's different? Well, for one thing, Saab has finally jumped on the direct injection bandwagon, with the result of greatly increased low-end torque and much better knock resistance. Also, the turbo has been changed to a twin-scroll unit, meaning it separates the charge from the exhaust into two streams to get quicker spool - Mini used this to great effect in the revised Cooper S, and I was impressed. On a 2.0L DI gas engine, a twin-scroll turbo points to huge amounts of torque at low RPMS, and you'd be right. Although the 2.0T "only" makes 220bhp, it makes a surprising 350nM (258lb-ft) of torque at a super-low 2,500rpm - practically a diesel powerband, and from a surprisingly low 9.5:1 compression ratio! Other goodies include aluminum pistons, a forged-steel crankshaft, and hydraulically operated variable valve timing. This VVT system is pretty neat: it allows intake and exhaust valve timing to be adjusted independently of each other for optimised performance. With the 2.0T, the 9-5 is good for a 7.9 second 0-100km/h time. Fuel efficiency and emissions are 8.4L/100km and 199g/km, respectively. Also of note is the availability in some markets of a BioPower version of this engine, which is E85-compatible and makes the same numbers running on the ethanol blend. Sitting at the top of the heap, for now, is the 2.8V6 Turbo motor. This is a further development of the Saab 2.8 V6 Turbo that debuted in the 9-3 Aero in 2006, but refined for more power and better delivery. The all-alumin V6 is set at a 60° angle for ideal smoothness, and also has dual-phase variable cam timing on both cylinder banks. It uses a twin-scroll single turbo setup, each cylinder bank feeding one runner, for minimum spool-up time. For added durability, the crankshaft and connecting rods are forged, the aluminum pistons are polymer-coated, and there are triple piston oil squirters. Power output is an impressive 300bhp, along with 295lb-ft (400nM) of torque between 2,000-5,000rpm. Saab says this muscular V6 will do 0-100km/h in 6.9 seconds in the 9-5 Aero, although they don't release emissions or efficiency numbers - probably because they're not that great, but who cares? imagine the potential in this engine for more power. Obviously, being a Saab, the new 9-5 isn't just about what's under the hood. It's far and away the most sophisticated car Saab's ever built, and it shows in some of the neat techy features you can get with it. For instance, available on the 2.0T/2.0T BioPower as well as the Aero (2.8V6 Turbo) is Saab's XWD four-wheel-drive system. What it actually is, is fourth-generation Haldex AWD, which utilizes what they call an "eLSD." This trick piece of equipment sits on the back axle, and can actively apportion torque left-to-right depending on which wheel needs power for the car to match the driver's demands the best. A traditional open differential AWD setup can't do this (like Audi's Torsen system, which uses a cool torque-sensing center differential, but lame "brake lock differentials" tied in with the ABS system to apportion power side-to-side by braking the wheel, not sending power where it needs to be), which makes XWD one of the best four-wheel-drive systems on the market today. The suspension is pretty cool, too. There are actually 3 different suspension designs available on the 9-5, depending on which model you get. Base engines (1.6 gas turbo and 2.0 diesel turbo) use a traditional MacPherson strut front suspension and a 4-link independent rear. The 2.0T model changes out the 4-link rear for a linked H-arm setup which allows the fitment of XWD if ordered. The top-of-the-line 2.8 V6 Turbo Aero ditches the regular MacStruts in the front for the goofily-named "HiPerStrut" (High Performance Strut) setup seen on the Insignia VXR/OPC models. This neat arrangement has benefits of a less angled, shorter kingpin as well as increased caster adjustment, which Saab claims gives the benefits of a sophisticated double-control arm setup without taking up all the space. In addition, the 9-5 is available with Saab DriveSense, which is a variable damper-control system you can get on everything but the 1.6 and 2.0 diesel models. It has three settings - "Intelligent", "Sport", and "Comfort." The system can control damping rates (electronically variable dampers, how cool?), steering assistance level, and throttle responsiveness. In "Intelligent" (the default mode) it's adaptive to how the car's being driven. In "Comfort" it softens everything up for relaxed highway cruising, and in "Sport" it... well, you know. Beyond stiffening everything up, it also raises the intervention threshold on the ESP system, raises the automatic shift points, and sets the default front-rear torque split with XWD to more rear-biased. There's also a "Sport Chassis" option on FWD (standard on XWD) models that drops static ride height by 10mm, beefs up the front anti-roll bar, increases spring and damping rates all around, and includes less squishy top strut mounts for sharper steering. Can you tell I want one of these? There are some interesting active safety features for the 9-5 as well. Particularly obnoxious will be the Lane Departure Warning, which is utterly useless (I know I'm changing lanes, thanks) as well as Traffic Sign Recognition (seriously? I can read) and Advanced Park Assist (really? I didn't want a Lexus, so I didn't buy one.) Besides that, it sounds all good. Even the headlights are cool! Bi-Xenon (low/high, unlike most manufacturers who cheap out and use a halogen high beam) are adaptive, meaning they angle into the turns to better illuminate the road. The highbeams engage and disengage automatically using an oncoming light sensor (cool!) and also have different light patterns for different conditions and speeds. At speeds below 50km/h, the lights make a wide, flat beam for increased roadside hazard visibility. Up to 100km/h, the beam spreads out more vertically, providing greater range but still some side visibility. Above 100km/h, the beam focuses further down the road. As if that wasn't enough, the 9-5's headlights also utilize the windscreen's rain/snow sensor to alter the beam pattern in bad weather conditions - a wide, asymmetric pattern that helps see road markings. It's this kind of attention to detail that will garner the 9-5 some love in the executive market, I'd say. The "surprise and delight" features continue inside, as well. There's a fighter-jet style heads up display (ok, honesetly not a fan, but whatever) that projects speed as well as warning symbols and other necessary info onto a high-visibility area of the windshield, as well as letting you feel like Robocop. Interior niceties include keyless entry/exit with a push button start/stop setup, tri-zone automatic climate control, and other goodies. And then there's the entertainment system: available is a high-end Harman/Kardon 11-speaker setup with true 5.1 surround sound. There's an 8-inch touch LCD screen in the dashboard, with an integrated 10-gig hard drive, a USB port (thank god, neither an iPod-specific cable or a useless "AUX" jack!) that fully integrates the controls of whatever's connected to the head unit, and... that's just the front seats! You can also get a rear-seat entertainment package that includes a bespoke control panel in the rear and two 8-inch LCD screens in the back, which can use a different media source from the front. There's standard bluetooth (which works with the available wireless headphones in the back as well as a hands-free connection for compatible phones) and other cool stuff like remote SIM card access which basically turns your car into a huge phone. Now, all this tech and refinement is well and good. It's quite impressive, even. But if the 9-5 is to be Saab's saving grace, it's hail-mary pass, or (hopefully not) it's last gasping breath, it still needs to drive as well as it sounds on paper. Initial reviews (such as this early first drive on Saabs United) have been very positive, but only time will tell if the 9-5 has what it takes to do what needs to be done. One thing's for sure - I, as a Saab owner and lover, have got my fingers crossed.
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