The Swedish Duel: Saab 9-5NG SportCombi vs. Volvo V90

Ever wondered how the latest wagon from Trollhättan stacks up against its arch rival from Gothenburg? Well…you can read about it in this month’s issue of Teknikens Värld! And…spoiler alert…the Saab won!

Teknikens Värld issue 2018-8 featuring 6 pages on “The Swedish Duel” with the cover headline: “Back to the future: Saab 9-5NG vs Volvo V90”.

When I got contacted by the Teknikens Värld (“The world of technology”) team in March with the request to feature my car in an upcoming story, my initial response was lukewarm. Sure, getting your car on the cover of one of Sweden’s oldest and largest car magazines itself is flattering, but the request was to use my car in a head-to-head test against the latest Volvo V90.

As a life-long Saab enthusiast, getting my car in an article together with a Volvo -after all, Saab’s biggest competitor- didn’t feel very attractive, but more importantly: why would anyone want to do a test between a car that never made it to the dealerships and was designed some 10 years ago against its challenger that was introduced only 17 months ago? To make a long story short: I accepted Teknikens Värld’s invitation under the condition that it would be a fair comparison.

So on a sunny Thursday in May, the Teknikens Värld team arrived at my house in a dark blue Volvo V90. Photographer Glenn Lindberg had in fact witnessed a Saab 9-5NG SportCombi in real life before in January 2013,  but when and his colleague Jonas Borglund saw my car, they were visibly impressed.

We then drove off to a few quite scenic spots in the area and spent the rest of the morning taking pictures and I’m now very pleased with the three double-spread pages in the August issue of the magazine!

For obvious -copyright- reasons I can’t post the entire article here, but here are some of the highlights:

…I (Jonas Borglund- MA) was lucky enough to drive this unique car, a real treasure. The in this context small engine is actually doing a massive job and provides really good power in this relatively heavy car when the turbo pressure is increasing. The steering is really pleasurable and exact and the suspension doesn’t feels to stiff, despite the car being lowered. Even in sharp curves, it’s really steady. And wherever one goes with this car, it draws attention. Not just among Saab-owners, but with any car enthusiast.

Picking the right spot for the next shot. Photo: Glenn Lindberg / Teknikens Värld

It virtually has all features any of the current cars also has like rear camera, traffic sign recognition, side collision warning, etc. Possibly only the lack of adaptive cruise control (this feature was in beta stage and already included on the price list for MY12- MA) is revealing that this isn’t a completely new car. The 9-5NG SportCombi is an incredibly good car and it’s a true shame that things didn’t work out for Saab as they did for Volvo and their great journey.

The Saab 9-5NG would theoretically have been a good match against the V90 and other premium wagons when it comes to space, performance and technical innovation. If only it had been available today.

Plus and Minus: Saab 9-5NG SportCombi Plus and Minus: Volvo V90
+Unique. Everyone looks, points and photographs it in “Combi-country” Sweden. What is it? A new Saab? -Not for sale. And never will be. However, the Sedan model is available on the second-hand market. +Comfort. The Volvo seats are world-class and the V90 drives soft and stable. -Common. The V90s are dime a dozen. The neighbours are gasping.
+Increasing in value. A collectors’ car that actually can be used. -Spare parts. Drive carefully as it can be difficult to find them. +Available for sale. A big advantage as Volvo hasn’t gone bankrupt. -Expensive. It’s costly to be at the top, as it were. A V90 with the specs you like is expensive.
The Saab 9-5NG SportCombi. Photo: Glenn Lindberg / Teknikens Värld

And the winner is: Saab 9-5NG SportCombi.

OK, we’ll have to admit that it’s not a regular comparison. The new Volvo V90 series may be the best that has left the Torslanda factory. The V90 is newly baked, comes straight from the oven and is stuffed with technology. The second generation Saab 9-5, also called 9-5NG, was launched in Frankfurt in 2009, which makes it almost 10 years old. To not even mention that the SportCombi only exists as a pre-series car. Despite this, we’re completely sold on it. Or is it just bittersweet nostalgia? Does it matter? The 9-5NG SportCombi is a very competent family car with great interior space and a stylish cockpit. It’s also really beautiful. The LED bar that is surrounding the wagon’s rear door is even more stunning in real life. And then it’s obviously a real collectors-item and it is, contrary to the Volvo, actually worth more today than it was at the time of purchase. Saab wins!

Unfortunately, it looks like single issues of Teknikens Värld are only available for sale in shops in Sweden (and might even be available in Norway and Finland). If you want to get your hands on a copy yourself, you may want to contact their customer service directly (no guarantees that this will work, but it may be worth the try). Having said that, given that previously published “Duels” have ended up on the Teknikens Värld website, it’s not unlikely that the 9-5NG SportCombi vs V90 Duel can be found there in the future as well. In case that happens, I’m hoping to be able to correct some of the minor mistakes in the article (e.g. I wasn’t the first 9-5NG SportCombi owner in the world to get my car road-legal (I was first in Sweden, however) and my car has been upgraded with Hirsch a body kit and hasn’t been engine-optimized by Hirsch, as the article suggests).

However, if you’d like to read more about my car, please check out its dedicated page here on the site and/or some of the earlier articles in other magazines: Jalopnik (English language), Vi Bilägare, Mest MotorBilsport and Högsta Växeln (all Swedish language).

 

 

 

 

 

 


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