By: Nathan Adlen
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Surströmming: noun – Swedish dish of fermented herring and (sometimes) sour cream.
Poffertjes: noun – A Dutch dish made with yeast and buckwheat – it’s like a fat, lightweight pancake. Usually served with powdered sugar.
BBQ: abbreviation informal for barbeque – Flesh (sometimes with bone) of an animal cooked over flame and usually served with baked beans.
Why do these foods matter? They (sort of) represent the new SAAB – at least, for now.
The all new SAAB 9-5 has a new owner, the Dutch company Spyker – the same guys who build some of the most intricate and unique looking sports cars out there. SAAB is still Swedish (by theme and construction) and Spyker management is looking into possibly resurrecting some of the old SAAB names.
What drives the SAAB 9-5 is General Motor’s turbocharged, 300 horsepower 2.8 liter V6. A 2.0 liter four-cylinder will soon join the lineup – that’s GM sourced too. In fact, a majority of the 2011 SAAB 9-5 guts are sourced from GM and that’s the way it will remain until SAAB has the revenue to build its own engines.
With that said…
The 2011 SAAB 9-5 is a freakin’ great car. It’s got power up the whazoo and great reflexes thanks to its all wheel drive called XWD. The six-speed automatic is very smooth and does an excellent job of finding the right cog with no drama.
SAAB has ALWAYS built a nice interior. Some folks poo-poo its simplicity or occasional use of GM’s parts bin – but I like it. The instrumentation is backed by a green-ish hue and there is a nifty, adjustable, heads-up display beamed right before your eyes. Seats are very comfortable and the dashboard is like a futuristic representation of what SAAB dashboards used to look like.
Back seat comfort is competitive and the trunk is cavernous.
I like the new design and especially dig the C-pillar connection to the roof. It looks completely unique and that’s EXACTLY what SAAB used to be – unique. The grill has a bit too much chrome for my taste, but it’s not overtly tacky. As a whole – the 2011 SAB 9-5 is a very attractive sedan with just enough family resemblance to claim it as a Swedish machine.
Driving this car is a joy, just don’t expect it to run with Audis, Mercedes or Lexus because it’s not quite up to those benchmarks. At the same time, it’s no entry level luxury car either. With the amount of mechanical sophistication the new 9-5 has – it’s sort of in a class of its own.
I never got a chance to play with all of the settings, but there are ways to change the ride and engine performance. When I tested it, I left everything in its default and drove crazy. SAABs in the past were surprisingly fast with mucho turbo-lag and enough torque-steer to yank arms from sockets.
Not this one.
It corners smooth and stays true throughout hard cornering, unless you slam on the accelerator. If you do that, the traction control and XWD will keep you moving in the right direction. There is no torque-steer and practically no turbo-lag. I was told that the 0 to 60 mph time for this particular model was about seven-seconds flat. That was when I attended a driving event in Southern California – there was only one SAAB 9-5.
What impressed me most about this car was its comfort and quick responding power. Handling is good, but I had very little steering feel. At least the steering wheel was well weighted. Still, there is a hint of disconnect between the driver and the road. SAABs used to have excellent road feel; perhaps I am being too nostalgic.
All told, it was a fine drive with a car that seems to have come out of nowhere. SAAB fans are bound to like it and I’m willing to bet a few new fans will come along. I hope this odd combination works out as SAAB has shown they can build something from lots of foreign scraps.
So, fire up the BBQ, and add a size of fermented Surströmming herring. Top it all off with some sweet tasting Poffertjes. It’s a tasty meal and despite the names and locations of their origins, everything goes together surprisingly well.
… keep the Tums handy
Now, munch on some tasty Surströmming while we look at another Swedish gem!