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Roadfly Magazine
Issue Five
Table of Contents

Past Issues Index
Roadfly Magazine
Issue Five
Feb. 24, 2003
Detroit Auto Show
Detroit Auto Show Photo Gallery
Daytona 24 Hour
Chevy Tahoe
Saab 9-5
Contest Winners
Coming Next Issue
Bentley Arnage R
Cayenne School
Daytona 500
Bose Headphones

Road Test: 2003 Saab 9-5
By Bret Frazier
Associate Editor

(Tuesday, February 25, 2003 5:50 PM EST)



VIENNA, VA - Saab. The name alone tends to create an odd reaction with many people, even those who consider themselves to be die-hard car enthusiasts. Phrases like "quirky and strange" or "upscale yet off-beat" are just a few of the comments that folks use when trying to describe a Saab to others. Often accompanying those descriptions are family stories about Saabs and go something like, "I had an uncle who owned several Saabs - he was always sort of weird..." And while it may be true that the Saab brand attracts people who want to break from the norm and value individuality over group approval, the brand today is much more mainstream than many think.

Only time will tell what effect General Motors ownership will have on Saab Automobile AB of Trollhattan, Sweden, but if the 2003 9-5 is any indication as to where things are headed, we'd say they're on the right path. We found many things to like about the 9-5, a few that were very clever and a few that were, yes, quirky.

The 2003 Saab 9-5 series offers a few different engine and transmission configurations to the potential buyer. There are two versions of the turbo-charged 2.3L 4-cylinder powerplant: a relatively sedate 185 horsepower model, or the more lively 250 horsepower model. Either of the 4-banger models can be had with a 5-speed manual or a new 5-speed automatic. Buyers who opt for the larger asymmetrically turbo charged 3.0L V6 are not offered a transmission choice - the flavor is strictly automatic.

Take a step up to the "luxury touring" model (Arc) and you'll have no say in the engine department - it's a take-it-or-leave-it 3.0L asymmetrically turbo charged V6 with a stodgy automatic transmission (sorry gear shifters).

And for those who take their latte's with a double-shot of espresso, the high performance Aero model offers a 2.3L High Output Turbo that wrings 250 ponies from the internals - or over 100 amazing horsepower per liter. Transmission choices are similar to the Linear - the 2.3L motor is offered with either a 5-speed manual or an all new 5-speed automatic.

Since all 9-5's are front wheel drive, many would (in all fairness) suggest that the forced induction + FWD = massive torque steer. But Saab has done a terrific job of eliminating all but the slightest hint of torque steer from their platforms.

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