Fleet News

Saab 9-5 Griffin

Review

##saab_9-5.jpg --Right##ON the face of it the Griffin is a super-spec car offering every gadget, and some new ones, to the user-chooser company director. But it will be interesting to see how this 3.0-litre V6 200bhp Ecopower-engined model takes on the traditional quality brands such as Mercedes-Benz or BMW, the Audi A8 at £36,595 for a 2.8-litre V6 putting out 193bhp, or even Honda Legend at £34,100 with a 3.5-litre 202bhp V6, or Volvo S80 2.9-litre straight-six at £27,630 and 204bhp.

Faced with such stiff competition it is no wonder Saab is looking at some conservative figures for its first year of sale - between 500 and 700 units. Of these, it estimates about 90% of the vehicles will go to business directors, selecting the car as part of a user-chooser contract hire policy.

Only available with automatic transmission, the Griffin is designed to make the driving experience as effortless and relaxing as possible. Featuring the world's first asymmetrically-turbocharged engine, it allows for gentle acceleration with only a whisper from under the bonnet, or alternatively in the sport mode it can hit 62mph in 8.3secs.

One of the main developments with the new engine is the improvement in torque it allows compared to its naturally-aspirated equivalent - an increase of 15% from 199 to 229lb-ft. A key change to performance is the boost control system via the electronic throttle which eliminates the need for a wastegate.

Thanks to the engine and automatic transmission developments the combined fuel consumption is relatively high for a car in this sector at 25.4mpg. The Griffin also features another world first, at least for cars, with a comfort feature borrowed from trucks and buses - electrically-ventilated seats, ridding any sticky discomfort from long journeys on leather seats. And during the winter months drivers can take advantage of the 'afterheating' which keeps the interior warm even after the engine is turned off. Programmed through the automatic climate control it uses heat that would otherwise be wasted by storing it in hot water - perhaps an innovation from the Swedish saunas.

With comfort in mind another specification feature sees memory functions not only on the electric seats, but also on the door mirror adjustment. And for those drivers who like their food and drink the centre console has a stylish cup-holder which slowly lowers vertically to the horizontal, and the glovebox is insulated to remain cool.

This is designed as a luxury car, with every feature to make the ride as comfortable as possible. It cannot be considered a true driver's car, but is an effortless ride, with no road noise or vibration, and does its best to ensure that any company director arrives at a location fresh and clear-headed.

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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