And with prices starting at just £27,995 on-the-road for the four-door, or £28,995 for the estate, it's a package Saab hopes will enable it to sell about 2,000 units in the first year, about 20% of 9-5 sales, split 50:50 between saloon and estate. At that price, the Aero's natural rival is the identically priced Volvo S70 T5 SE, an older design that packs even more power - 240bhp - but less torque at 243lb-ft 2,700rpm. The Volvo is slower to 60mph at 7.0 secs but has a higher top speed at 152mph.
Elsewhere, the Saab competes with much less powerful rivals, including the BMW 523i SE (£28,095/170bhp), Audi A6 2.4 (£28,069/165bhp) and Mercedes E200 Elegance (£28,255/ 134bhp). At the heart of the Aero is a new 2.3-litre turbocharged engine developing 230bhp and 258lb-ft of torque at just 1,900rpm. What's more, there's a 'superboost' facility on manual transmission models that raises output to 273lb-ft for up to 20 seconds at near full throttle opening, giving extra performance during, say, overtaking.
Such power gives a top speed of 149mph and 0-60mph time of just 6.5secs for the manual saloon. Most impressive of all, however, is in-gear acceleration which provides the Aero with simply breathtaking overtaking ability: 50- 70mph takes just 7.3 seconds in top gear - far quicker than any other luxury four-door saloon on the market at this price. Despite this, economy is surprisingly good: at 29.7mpg on the combined cycle for the manual saloon (26.1mpg for the automatic). Unlike the smaller Saab 9-3 Viggen, which uses the same 2.3T engine in the 9-3's less capable chassis to provide a somewhat manic street racer, the 9-5 has a more accommodating set-up. The Aero sits 10mm lower than conventional 9-5s, while both front and rear axles are equipped with heavier anti-roll bars, stiffer springs and firmer dampers to minimise roll on cornering. Three-spoke 17in alloy wheels with 225/45 ZR17 tyres, traction control and 20mm bigger front brakes with harder friction material complete the dynamic enhancements.
But it adds up to a potent sporting package. It's possible to really enjoy the Aero's performance - for example in overtaking situations on A and B-roads - while ride comfort isn't compromised by the stiffer suspension settings. With a predicted residual value of £9,600/35% of cost new after three years/60,000 miles, the Aero compares poorly with the likes of the BMW 523i SE (£11,825/42%), but the Volvo S70 T5 SE does worse, retaining just 32% of cost new, or £9,025.
Both saloon and estate versions of the Aero have an enviable safety record, and with a standard specification that includes twin front airbags, front side airbags, Saab's active head restraints and a full complement of side impact protection beams, not to mention triple three-point rear belts, the 9-5 is one of the safest cars on the road, obtaining a full four-star rating in the Euro-NCAP crash tests.