With the 9-5, Saab joins the march to driver-adjustable chassis. Here called DriveSense, the system is standard on the Aero but not offered on the 2.0T. It has three settings: comfort, intelligent (which adapts to your driving style), and sport. The system controls damper firmness, steering effort, throttle mapping, automatic-transmission shift points, and all-wheel-drive torque allocation. The sport mode nicely firms up the steering efforts; the steering is otherwise very pleasant at straight-ahead, but the buildup of effort as you move off-center is artificial. The effect of the sport mode on the dampers is less pronounced. Even in the stiffer mode, the 9-5 doesn't display the ultratight body control that often characterizes German cars.
The Saab is more of a relaxed cruiser. On a short handling track, we had the opportunity to push it harder, and we found that although the suspension allows small body motions, it effectively resists larger ones, making the 9-5 ultimately more responsive than you might expect. The Aero's all-wheel-drive system also helps in this environment; this is Saab's so-called Cross Wheel Drive system, which uses a Haldex clutch to apportion torque front-to-rear and also features a torque-vectoring rear differential to mitigate understeer.
The 9-5 is an example of what GM did right with the Swedish brand. The car is a convincing Saab and, despite its genesis, makes a fitting new entry for the re-emergent brand. It won't be an easy road, but you can't help but get the sense that the sun is shining on Saab once again.
On sale: now (aero)
Base price: $49.990
Engine: 2.8-liter turbocharged V-6, 300hp, 295 lb-ft