Now as a lot of you may know, a few months ago we decided to swap our 2006 Subaru Legacy 2.0 R Wagon Auto for a 2007 (57) Saab 9-5 Hot Aero Wagon Auto, this was a big step for us as we’d never owned a Saab before and we had never had a performance car before so it was a huge risk, well 3 months on from ownership and I’m glad to announce it has been absolutely wonderful.
First of all, a bit of a back story!
We used to own a 2006 Subaru Legacy Wagon which on the most part was a brilliant car, but after maybe a few months it started to run into running problems which were later found to be really expensive to fix and because normal code readers couldn’t really tell us the problem we had no choice but to go to Subaru themselves to get it fixed, due to our limited budget however we could never get it fixed up to the way we’d like so after just over a year of ownership, we decided to jump ship from Subaru ownership and plunge into Saab ownership.
Reason being was that not just could they picked up for second hand Fiesta or Corsa money, there was ten a penny & for what you could get in the price it looked as if you could get a good deal one without digging through the classifieds, add on to the fact most of them in that budget were GM based it meant that overall parts & labour prices were surprisingly cheap for what is technically classed as an executive car.
After looking online at different websites I found what was eventually going to be our new replacement on AutoTrader, a black 2007 Saab 9-5 HOT Aero Auto Wagon with 118k on the clock in immaculate condition for a measly £1500, that’s right – an immaculate condition 260bhp Performance Wagon for Corsa money, however there was only one issue – the car was in Luton!
Both me & my mum decided to go down and check this car out to make sure it was everything we’d been looking for and on the most part it was perfect – of course it’s impossible to get a perfect car for such little coin but this wasn’t far off.
After spending a weekend down in England getting the car we bought it back home and instantly fell in love with it, not just was it uber comfortable but it was stonking when the right pedal was prodded – a serious wolf in sheep clothing!
What Happened Next?
After getting it home and getting everything sorted paperwork wise it was time to get involved with a Saab specialist to fix it’s little issues, and to both my parents surprise it cost the same to fix the whole car than it was to fix one bit on the Subaru which made them really happy – the most expensive was an alternator replacement and the only reason for that was because of access & how much of a fiddle it was to get right.
In those last 3 months, it’s had brand new tyres all round, brand new brake pads, a handful of rubber bushings, a new battery, an engine mount, a new tensioner and a new cam belt fitted as well as the alternator and since then it’s not went wrong once, for all that to be done it’s cost a third of what Subaru would charge for the Legacy!
Since ownership it has been used day in day out in all weathers and it’s been perfect, it has to be the only car we have had for ages which hasn’t cost an absolute fortune to run or maintain, if driven sensibly its easy to be doing 35mpg overall and unlike other performance cars with similar performance it doesn’t have a habit of drinking oil or chewing through it’s tyres which means that as a family wagon it doesn’t cost the earth to run.
What’s It Like to Live With?
Now with any performance car, they can be expensive to look after, have to have the best of everything and as an owner you always have to be careful of big bills but in the Saab it is fine, a Service including labour, codes checked, a full valet & a road test comes in at £300 – £400 all in by Saab themselves, when you consider that Subaru charge over a £600 for a Service for a Legacy and Volvo charge £300 odds just for the parts for the C70, it’s unbelievable value for money!
Also, there is plenty of Saab Dealers still around the UK which means finding one isn’t too difficult and all the workers have been there for years and know exactly what they’re doing which makes ownership a breeze.
On the inside there is plenty of kit on offer with Heated seats, A/C, Dual Zone Climate Control, Electric Drivers seat, Electric mirrors, Electric Windows all round, a CD Player with built in AUX, Alarm, Immobiliser, Central Locking & a multi functioning steering wheel to name a few,
if found there can be some Aero’s with Memory seats, heated seats all round, Folding mirrors, built in Nav, multichanger in the boot & a Sunroof too which means that if found you really are spoiled for choice.
Onto interior fit & finish now, and this is where it’s not as good, don’t get me wrong, everything works & it is laid out really well – with the driver getting a very jet fighter esque vibe!, but unfortunately it’s not as plush as first expected which is a shame really as you get all the creature comforts of an executive express but the dash & interior quality of another GM Product like a Vauxhall or Opel, it’s not bad but yet it’s not great – if you want a quality feeling interior then I’d possibly go for something like a Mercedes or BMW for that.
however, with every bad part there is a good bit, practicality is very good, top class in fact!, the boot is massive with movable anchor points & multiple cubbies, the seats fold down two ways, Either top half down or you can lift the seat base up and then fold down the top half, the roof is reasonably square which means it can hold more than enough goods for any family, Leg room & headroom is also very good due to big floor space and that boxy roof, cubby spaces are plentiful and where they should be, in the back you get an arm rest with two cup holders, a cigarette lighter and if a top spec motor you also get heated seats in the back too, in the back of the front seats are huge pockets where you can hide tons of different things too which makes it a brilliant road tripper, the journey back from Luton to Scotland was superb, it swallowed everything we had with us with ease!
What’s it Like to Drive?
Now this is where it starts to really come into it’s stride, now with a lot of powerful performance FWD cars of the time you can easily get tons of Torque Steer or Wheelspin due to the high power on tap but with the Saab, it handles it’s power really well, ours has TC and while it is relatively basic in the way it works it is able to keep it’s power under control which can’t be said for many FWD performance cars these days.
Here is the best bit however, Being the HOT Aero model (HOT being short for High Output Turbo), it is of course the cream of the crop for outright performance, with Turbocharged cars there is always going to be turbo lag present but with the Saab the turbo is like a switch – either it’s on or it’s off, there is hardly any lag present and once on boost it turns into an absolute animal!, 0-60 comes up in 8.4 seconds (6s if a manual) and the way it just picks up it unreal, it can go from a sedate comfortable cruiser into a Autobahn stormer in a matter of milliseconds which makes it a perfect family sleeper.
Now if 260bhp & 350NM Torque just isn’t enough for you, there is a lot of tuning companies who can easily get you into the 300bhp club & over without doing too much work getting done to them, both Abbott Racing & Hirsch are the top guys to go for if you want more out of an Aero.
What is it like in the winter weather?
Now surely with our 9-5 being an Aero and it also being FWD you’d expect it to be an absolute handful in the snow and the winter weather compared to the Legacy and to be honest you’d be right but it’s not as bad as first expected.
Now of course it is never going to compare to the Subaru when it comes to Snow, the Subaru would eat that for breakfast, lunch & dinner if given the chance, with it’s famous AWD system there is no way the Saab could compete with it but you’d be surprised.
Even though the Saab is FWD and it has all that power under the right pedal ready to go, in the snow it is surprisingly good in it, now of course it is going to struggle if driven out with it’s limits but if driven with care it is just like the Legacy and there is a few reasons for this.
Unlike the Subaru, the Saab has both Traction Control and a low range gear in the gearbox and as long as the TC is on & it’s in Low Range and you drive with care it’ll be able to outperform a lot of small SUV’s and other cars, where some cars & SUV’s were getting stuck, our little Saab was still running errands like it was a normal day.
Just like the other well known Swedish car Company, the Saab is of course Swedish which means that just like Volvo they are more than capable with the UK’s snow and wintery weather, in fact the Swedes when testing new cars put more testing into Winter driving than any other car company due to the sever weather they get over their, this makes for a normal family estate like a 9-5 a pretty capable car in the snow.
Now I am not going to say that the Saab trumps the Leggy when it comes to the snow, it’s now where near as good but apart from the lack of AWD it certainly is as capable as long as it’s driven to the conditions.
Decision time!, should you buy one or not?
So, you’ve decided to get one for yourself, should you really plunge into Aero ownership or go for something else with maybe AWD?
Now, yes there are a lot of better cars out their if you look hard enough, some will be cheaper to run, some will be more powerful and others will be a better all rounder but if you are looking for a good looking car with dollops of performance with a great badge and an even better community behind it, it’d make sense to go for a 9-5 Aero but be warned, the car isn’t perfect.
Tax yearly is £520, Tyres for it aren’t the cheapest and if driven quickly the fuel consumption will go from about 35mpg to early twenties at best, also because this isn’t entirely Vauxhall based you won’t be able to just swap Vauxhall parts over for cheapness of parts, also early models do tend to suffer from Oil starvation issues (this was fixed in the facelifted ‘Dame’ Model), if you go for a pre facelift version you can get kits to stop that from happening but unfortunately it’s not permanent so be careful when looking around.
All in all, the 9-5 Aero is a very good car for the price and is definitely a left field option than any of it’s rivals, if a good one is found, you won’t really need to spend too much to get it up to scratch to the way it should be, if you want to mod them then as posted above there’s plenty of places around to do that for you if needed which makes it one of the better cars to get into performance motoring on a shoe string
So, in conclusion, if you want an all round Performance car with enough room for a family, a dog and a boot full of shopping while being insanely quick but yet capable in any types of weather, the Saab 9-5 Aero is definitely for you, take it from me, go and check one out – you won’t be disappointed!
Hope You Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson