2009 FRANKFURT MOTOR SHOW: Saab 9 5

Poor Saab. This brand has been abused and neglected for a long, long time.

If suffering through the indignity of selling a rebadged Chevy Trailblazer wasn't enough, the brand has been up for sale for about as long as I can remember and now a Chinese company will likely have some interest in Saab once the dust settles. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel in the form of the new Saab 9-5. Supposedly hitting the road in 2010 as a 2011 model, the new 9-5 is replacing a car that's been on sale for the last 12 years with no major changes. That's an eternity for a sedan in this class.

Thankfully some of the styling cues on the 9-5 come from past concepts like the Aero-X, which debuted at the 2006 Geneva auto show, and the car looks thoroughly Scandinavian and modern. Engine choices will be a 2.0-liter turbo-four or a 2.8-liter turbo-six, though we aren't sure if the six-speed manual is only for the four-cylinder engine in the U.S. A six-speed automatic should be offered with either engine. Front-wheel drive will be standard and Saab's signature XWD all-wheel-drive system will be available.

Saabphiles will find lots of little details that speak to the brand's heritage including the green instrument panel lighting, start/stop button mounted in the console, and a greenhouse design that recalls the 900. Tech toys like active bi-Xenon headlights, adaptive cruise control, keyless go, a heads up display, and adaptive dampers just might be enough to lure in buyers who have found Saab to be lacking in the past.

It will likely be much easier to get new owners behind the wheel once the drama of GM selling Saab is finally over. There are a lot of unknowns at this point, though the sale looks much more on-track than the complicated Opel transaction.

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