Fleet News

Saab 9-5 2.0t SE auto - 9,100 miles


WHERE is the benefit in a company car? Although it probably puts on most of its miles through business journeys, the real value comes with private use — family outings, moving rubble, impressing the neighbours, that sort of thing.

Our long-term test cars also get the holiday treatment during the year and the Saab was one of the latest for an outing, taking in a marathon journey of nearly 1,000 miles through the beautiful Welsh countryside.

The trip became the car's namesake, taking in Shrewsbury, Anglesey, Aberystwyth and Bath.

Equipped with a Reader's Digest road atlas from 1988 left lying around the office (which included a useful section on 'breakdown/engine splutters and dies' offering advice such as 'try to start the engine'), the journey headed into Wales on the M56.

As a 2.0-litre turbo automatic, the Saab feels like it was built for this sort of travelling, with cruise control a valuable addition to aid convenience and safety by ensuring you keep to the speed limit.

There was little hint of noise from the incredibly smooth four-cylinder engine and the automatic box is one of the best I have ever come across, moving between the gears almost imperceptibly.

Once on the coast, the roads changed, often predominantly single carriageways, such as the A496, down to single track in some areas, offering the chance to test the Saab's handling — and braking when the odd cow appears. The lack of cow-shaped dents in the bonnet shows they worked.

The engine is smooth and 'does the job', but pushing its power through an automatic 'box can dent the performance. However, the chassis could handle fast cornering without understeer, so keeping a steady pace was easy.

Great little ideas, such as the driver's twin sunvisor — so you can have one to the side and one in front — showed attention to detail had not been simply wasted on gimmicks. Thankfully, the supportive seats and well laid out instruments meant the time spent in the car was a pleasure, although the dated dashboard takes some getting used to and the button-like controls for each air outlet look messy when all pointed in different directions.

Furthermore, for any fleet car drivers with a family in tow, the dark plastic door interiors quickly show up any marks, while stowage space is lacking for all those bottles — aside from the slightly over-engineered cupholder mentioned in previous reports.

Doing large mileages all at once in a car can show some of a vehicle's most annoying points, and the Saab didn't disappoint, with its 'blip, blip, blip' alarm check every time you opened the boot, and 'parp' every time you locked the doors.

Also, economy, despite my best efforts, never broke the 30mpg barrier (although it did in a previous test), which might be acceptable because it is an automatic, but the vehicle's computer assured me it had. Only checking the fuel receipts proved its slight optimism.

So after such a marathon journey, would it be worth my company car tax bill at the end of the year? I would say yes, as long as you fit another alarm system.

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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