It ticks all the boxes as a management saloon – but will the twin-turbocharged 9-5 ever get to join the elite of business transport?
Troubled Swedish car firm Saab is keen to shed its image as a maker of quirky models and is nurturing an ambition to be seen as a premium brand.
Despite having to overcome a series of financial woes, it is still challenging the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz with the biggest saloon yet to carry its badge.
With a lusty 190bhp under its bonnet, the TTiD version gets the pace to match the style and spaciousness of its bodywork and our 3,000 miles with the car have revealed it can be frugal as well as speedy.
But its the way the power is delivered that bodes well for the Vector SE with buyers looking for comfort as well as driving pleasure over long distances.
From any angle, the 9-5 is a handsome five-metre machine. In its latest guise, the SE stands on big alloys to be one of the most attractive cars in the sector with an imposing kerbside presence and a quality build that shows in tight shut lines and a reassuring ‘clunk’ when the doors and boot lid are closed.
Stretching room is generous and the upmarket feel is underlined with deep leather seats that provide excellent support, but while the interior is well-planned and includes neat detailing touches like footwell illumination and door pocket lighting, it is a pity that the ample storage space doesn’t include a chilled compartment.
Bootspace is massive, but another thoughtful touch is the provision of four hooks that make supermarket trips more organised by preventing plastic bags from spilling out their contents on the way home.
For such a commodious car with suspension settings to promote smooth travel, the Vector SE boasts sharp handling characteristics and copes well with the twists and turns of country roads. But with high gearing that curtails its motor to less than 3,000 revs for most of the time, this is a car that appeals most as a supremely relaxing mile-muncher – and one that should qualify for admission to the premier class.
In two months’ driving, I’ve seen only one other 9-5 on the road, so this is a swish saloon with rarity value on the company car park at present. But after a series of on-off deals that have culminated in idle production lines, the latest link with a Chinese partner promises an end to uncertainty over the long-term future of its maker.