Up front, the Aero's sport seats feel overly firm at first, but they get more comfortable the longer you're in them. The 2.0T's seats are softer and still offer the full complement of power adjustments although they lack the sport seats' under-thigh extensions. Touch points are soft, but the dark metallic trim does nothing to enliven the all-black interior. The curved, cockpit-style dash is canted toward the driver, and yes, it features Saab's night panel button, which shuts down all the gauges except the speedometer and the head-up display. The column stalks; the switches on the small, nicely shaped steering wheel; and the multifunction circular display screen at the center of the speedometer are all GM bits, but they hardly look out of place. Saab has done a better-than-usual job of grouping the various buttons by function, which makes things easy to find. The ignition is, of course, located between the seats.
Fittingly, both 9-5 engines are artificially aspirated, with twin-scroll turbochargers. The 2.8-liter V-6 in the Aero makes 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, the same as it does in its Opel and Buick applications. Saab quotes a time of 6.9 seconds for the 0 to 62 mph sprint, which is good but not blistering. All U.S. Aeros come with a six-speed automatic (with paddles) and all-wheel drive; the latter means that torque steer is not an issue. The four-cylinder 2.0T is front-wheel drive (although it likely will add the option of all-wheel drive next year). The version we sampled had a six-speed manual gearbox, which will be offered here. This stick shift suffers none of the rubbery shift action that we've seen in some previous Saab units and is a pleasure to use, with easy clutch engagement and progressive throttle tip-in; only occasional resistance to the 3-2 downshift keeps it from being near-perfect.
For the 2.0T, torque steer is really not an issue, until you get within 1000 rpm of the redline in first gear. This direct-injected engine offers much better initial response and better integration of boost than the 2.0 turbo in the 9-3. (Look for it to supplant that engine in the 9-3 in mid-2011). The turbo in the four-cylinder does announce its presence with a pronounced whistle; the V-6, by contrast, is extremely quiet.