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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, continued.

Saab 9-5

Saab 95

With so much emphasis on cupholders, we have to comment on the Saab's unique cupholder system. Most people would like the cupholder, which stylishly glides and rotates out of the dash. But we imagine a few will think it's a bit weird - we say this only because the cupholder reminds us of the folding tray tables from, you guessed it, an airliner. Adding to the quirkiness of this cupholder "system" is that there's only one of them. The other front cupholder is a chintzy removable center console mounted one, which makes for an odd combination.

For night driving the 9-5 offers a feature called "Night Panel". Pushing the appropriate button dims all of the dash lights except for a portion of the speedometer. Controls stay "muted" until you "wake" them by adjusting them. For example, ff you adjust the radio, its display will come on momentarily before going dim again. We found the feature to make night driving on dark highways much more pleasant and less stressful on the eyes.

One little feature that took us awhile to figure out was a plastic tab that protruded from the inside lower left corner of the A-pillar, just above the dashboard. Turns out this little nub is a parking pass holder. Placing your parking pass or ticket in the holder makes it visible to others and prevents it from getting lost. We can't recall ever seeing that on another car. So, yeah, a few unusual features that can be considered quirky, useful, innovative, or dumb, depending on your perspective.

But get the 9-5 on the road and your perspective changes. You'll first notice how small the car feels. The car has a light, athletic feel to it. The turbo engine mated to the automatic transmission allows for easy cruising and quick passing maneuvers. It's responsive without being twitchy and smooth without feeling ponderous. Our tester model's V6 provided a smooth, torquey feel and gave the car a little heftier feel when compared to the 4-cylinder models. Only a test drive will tell you which engine choice is the best for you.

The V6 emits a noticeable growl under acceleration that some will find sporty and others annoying. The 5-speed auto shifts have just the right feel. For 2003 Saab offers a "Sentronic" manual gear selection for the automatic. Place the gear shifter in the "M" position and the driver can shift gears manually via steering wheel mounted finger pads. The Sentronic option is available on all automatic equipped 9-5 trim levels.

The Arc model we tested is tuned more for touring than canyon carving. The standard 16" Michelin tires provided a smooth ride but were not up to the task of performance driving, especially with the heavier V6 under the hood. The Aero comes standard with 17" alloy wheels and performance tires (gorgeous BBS 2-piece wheels are an option) making it the choice for the driver who wants the most responsive 9-5 he can get.

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