Fleet News

Saab 9-5 2.0t Arc estate - 7,925 miles

Review

Now this fleet of perambulation is a worrying enough sight over cornflakes in the morning, but it's positively terrifying when I consider how many of the assembled prams, buggies and bits of sleeping apparatus have the word 'travel' attached to them.

I have no idea how many trips it took in our Volkswagen Golf for my wife to assemble this integrated infant travel infrastructure at home, but my guess is that you would need to take off your gloves and socks to count up all the visits to and from the stores that prove so willing to help an expectant mother.

Yet somehow, the three-wheelers, four-wheelers, papousses, cradles and car seats are going to have to make daily car trips to parks, parents' houses and pools. I've done the calculations with our Golf, and all the clobber will just about fit if we take out the dog-guard and fold down the passenger and rear seats, which was reassuring until I realised this left no space for the baby.

So I had started checking out Transit vans and wondering whether the high-cube model would be big enough, when along came our long term test Saab 9-5 estate.

Forget lifestyle station wagon, this is an estate for people who have not so much a lifestyle as a removal business — I'm surprised the 9-5 doesn't start beeping when you engage reverse gear.

This hearse-like carrying capability may not make the Saab top of the pile in the looks stakes, and nor is it scintillating to drive (particularly with its over-assisted power steering), but as an estate it does exactly what it says on the tin.

A dry run dress rehearsal saw it swallow more equipment than Shackleton took to the Antarctic, and if I had to leave behind the kitchen sink it was only to make way for the baby bath.

The 9-5 may be too grand for the traditional photocopier engineer, but at least the engineer could cart away any broken machines in the boot without even having to lower the rear seats. What's more, the low loading height and square floor area make for easy access.

Personally, I still feel I'll get sucked down the kiddy-kit whirlpool into MPV purgatory, but the 9-5 estate has at least given me hope that there are cars available that drive like cars not vans, carry me in leather-cosseted comfort in consolation for the backseat bedlam, and provide reassuring solidity and protection for my fragile and precious offspring.

I'm not normally one to throw my weight around, but I can see myself pulling rank to ensure I've got the keys to the 9-5 estate every weekend throughout the summer.

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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