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Saab 9-5 2.3t SE estate


SAAB'S heritage in estate cars is not its greatest asset: simply put, there hasn't been an estate in the company's range since the demise of the curvaceous Ford-powered 95 back in the seventies. It's probably a coincidence that Saab's newest model - and the car that marks the company's re-entry into this sector of the market - is called 9-5, but that's the only link the new car has with its forebear.

Altogether more upmarket, handsome from most angles and undeniably practical, the estate is available in six guises, with aggressive pricing starting at ú23,795 on the road - ú1,000 more than equivalent saloon models. What's more, every one is turbocharged adding some sparkle to what could be seen as a worthy but rather dull car. There are three engines - four-cylinder 2.0t 150bhp and 2.3t 170bhp plus a 3.0t V6 with 200bhp - and a choice of five-speed manual transmission or, for ú1,240 extra on all but the 3.0-litre, four-speed automatic. Two trim levels, standard and SE, are separated by a ú1,000 premium on the four-cylinder cars, with the top of the range 3.0t V6 SE costing ú2,000 more than standard.

Importantly, the engine line-up dovetails well with existing class benchmarks: it matches almost identically the BMW 520i Touring (150bhp), 523i Touring (170bhp) and 528i Touring (193bhp), the only serious omission being a diesel version. Saab has targeted a small but select band of players in the executive sector (see table) but it undercuts all on price while offering similar levels of trim and specification.

It's largely because of this that Saab expects the 9-5 estate to take a significant proportion of sales in the sector, and the company's renowned customer loyalty means many will find homes with previous Saab owners. Breaking into the top of the class, competing with BMW, Audi and, of course Volvo, may prove harder owing to Saab's less prominent image in the sector. Here, we try the mid-ranking 2.3t SE, priced at ú26,795 in manual form and - as tested - at ú28,035 with automatic transmission.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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