Thursday, May 19, 2005

I second Phil's observations!
You see? All we need to do is get people around Saabs and behind the wheel a few times, and they're hooked--even if they've been driving Volvos for years. And when Phil came over from the dark-side, he took no prisoners. He didn't mess around with a 9-3 this or Linear that. Nooooo. He went right for the ne plus ultra--9-5/Aero/navigation/every package. Good for Phil!
We do hear a fair amount of moaning that the 9-5 is a tired design. But this is our history! The Classic 900: 15 years. The 9000: 13 years. And people are kvetching about a 6 year old car being stale? Clearly, the problem is that people don't own cars the way they once did. In those old times, you bought a Saab, kept it to the point when most people would trade it in, maybe 4 years or so, and realize: "Why should I trade this car in? It's paid for, runs great, looks timeless, still drives wonderfully.... and it's paid for!" And this would go on for years and years, and perhaps after 8-10 years when they wanted a new car, there was something really new to look at. Not these days. Leases. Two-three years and your out. So you leased a 1999 9-5, another in 2002, and now you come into the showroom and find a car that has some refinements and content you didn't have before, but it looks and feels identical. That's the conundrum. Here's mine. If I were king of the world, or of Saab, anyway, and I could chose what to do with the car, what would I change? Hmmm.....Engine? Nope. Transmissions? Nope. Chassis? Well, maybe add some spring stiffness. Brakes? Nope. Interior? Nope. Anything missing? Not for me, but there are those who gullible souls who insist on AWD, but since I'm king and contrarian, no the car does not get AWD. The point is, on a car that works so well--not just each system, but holistically, what would we change? True, the exterior styling looks a little dated now and that change is coming in the fall, and some of the 9-5 wheels look dopey. But that's it. I love the 9-5. I wish it were slightly larger in the rear seat ala the 9000, but other than that, there is no Saab and very few other cars of any marque that matches it for tactile ambient quality.

Friday, May 13, 2005

My New Saab
I must admit it - until 6 weeks ago I was not driving a Saab. Yes, I was driving another Swedish brand when I started working here, and the lease didn't run out until this Spring. But with that confession out of the way, I have to run on for a bit about the Saab 9-5 Aero and what a great car it is.

One of the unfortunate tendencies of American culture these days is our obsession with all things 'new'. You see it in the car business all the time - if a car design is more than a year or two old, then the vehicle is viewed as an also-ran. Saab markets these 9-5's that are 6 years into their perceived life cycle, so of course they aren't heading up any best selling lists. But I think if consumers got past their fixation with 'new', there would be a lot more 9-5's on the road.

The 9-5 is truly a great automobile. I knew I was driving something special the first hard corner I dove the car into. And the car can move; a great local test is to head up the Route 2 hill in Arlington and see how quickly you can accelerate up the incline. Trust me, this car passed the test. Boy, does it pass the test! The car is as solid as can be, and when I feel as comfortable buckling my kids in the back seat as I did in my old Volvo, then you have something of merit.

And what about this design is 'old' anyhow?! Great profile on the outside, big alloy wheels, Xenons, great radio and navigation system, fantastic Swedish seats, an automatic transmission with manual option, dripping with horsepower and torque, great mileage for its size, trip computer, night panel option, huge trunk, functional design, etc... Throw in the fact that the car actually looks unique - unlike pretty much every other luxury sedan in the marketplace - and it doesn't seem very 'old' to me.

If you are in the market for a sedan that moves, handles quite well, and is functional, comfortable, solid and quite safe, then you're not going to do much better for your dollars than a 9-5.

Off the soapbox now...