First Drive: 2010 Saab 9-5 Aero

It might have been the influence of the manual, but we came away preferring the 2.0T. The factory clocks it one second behind the V-6 going from 0 to 62 mph, but it doesn't feel any slower in real life, perhaps because it's more than 800 pounds lighter than the AWD V-6, which tips the scales at 4365 pounds.

Choose your chassis
Both versions of the 9-5 offer what Saab calls DriveSense, with a switch to choose among three settings -- comfort, intelligent (which adapts to your driving style), and sport--for damper firmness, steering boost, throttle mapping, automatic transmission shift points, and all-wheel-drive torque allocation. The system, which is standard on the Aero and optional on the 2.0T, also allows the driver, via the large touch-screen, to de-select individual items from the DriveSense program, to create a truly individualized setup.

We easily preferred the Sport mode's higher-effort steering; whatever the setting, the steering is very precise on center but rather artificial once you begin winding on lock. With regard to the dampers, we found it hard to pick out the differences among the various settings, at least on the well-kept blacktop outside of Trollhaettan -- on crumbling Rust-Belt freeways, it might be a different story.

Basically, the 9-5 rolls along with a somewhat relaxed attitude -- there is not the iron-fisted body control of some German brands. But when you push it harder, as we did on a closed test track, you find that althuogh the suspension allows small body motions, it effectively resists larger ones, so the car is ultimately more responsive than you might expect. On the track, we drove the all-wheel-drive Aero exclusively. Saab's cross-wheel-drive system uses a Haldex clutch to apportion torque front to rear, but it also features an electronically controlled rear differential to shift power across the rear axle, sending more to the outside rear wheel when accelerating out of a corner, helping to mitigate understeer somewhat.

Just as Ford got rid of Jaguar when they finally have great products, this one looks like a winner for Saab. It looks like a more complete car than a BMW inside/out/ and drivingwise.
I've seen this car several times. It's a beautiful car inside and out and looks even better in person than in pix. I'm looking forward to driving it. The 2.0T will resolve all the issues that many have with the price tag. Starting at under $40,000 makes it very competitively priced. In all the stats the car mags test, keep in mind the 1 they don't: acceleration from 30MPH to 70MPH - This is where Saab has always crushed the competition. Why should you care? This is merging onto a highway, changing lanes and even when you're having fun racing around, this is range where you truly have the chance to play. Not from a standstill and not at top speed. Real engineering for real life: That's Saab.
Too little, too late! Would you rather have a Buick?

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