The original 9-5 is reliable and cheap, so there’s no reason to be nervous
Excited as I was by the recent arrival of a royal baby, it was the appearance of a Saab 9-5 Aero with the Duchess of Cambridge on board that I found more of a thrill. Research revealed that it wasn’t a Middleton-mobile but a plain clothes cop car, which is perhaps even more significant. They wouldn’t put up with an unreliable old heap of a saloon, and neither should you.
The original 9-5 still looks in fine shape after all these years, and it can definitely still do a job. It’s too early to consider the most recent 9-5, and I’ll leave the 9-3 for another day, but now is the time to consider one of the finest saloons or estates on the used market.
You can buy into a 2000 9-5 2.0T SE for around £500, but care is required. Inevitably the mileage will be around 150,000 and the cosmetics could be a bit marginal, but it is the mechanicals that matter most.
That’s why a normally aspirated and quite rare V6 is worth seeking out. The closer you get to £1000, the more estates you can find, but I’d say that a grand is the best starter budget for well cared for, family-owned 9-5s with a full history. These will be petrol cars up to 2003 and the specs will be a mix of SE, Linear and the odd Arc, but that really doesn’t matter too much. Condition is always the thing.
Diesel power isn’t that impressive, but a 2.2 TiD can manage just over 40mpg, and that is important to some. They can start at £1000, but if you spend double that you could unearth a 3.0 V6 TiD, which will do 38mpg. You will also get the better of the quicker 9-5s; a 2.3 HOT, probably in estate format at £2000, is the best of all possible worlds.
The revamped 2005 ‘eyeliner’ models start at around £2500. Top money is pretty much £6995, which will get a 2009 1.9 TiD turbo with 80,000 miles or a 50,000-mile 2.0T in Linear Sport trim.
Officially Saab is still dead, but there does seem to be renewed activity in Sweden, with stories of the 9-3 being resurrected by the Chinese. There are, however, plenty of companies in the UK keen to keep your zombie 9-5 alive. So do your patriotic duty and buy one right now.