WHILE SAAB WORKS to find itself a new owner before current parent GM formally cuts ties in January 2010, the embattled Swedish manufacturer is expected to reveal the new Saab 9-5 at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show in September, due for production late next year as a 2011 model.
Based on a lengthened version of the Epsilon II platform that underpins the award-winning Opel Insignia, the 2011 9-5 will be offered with a range of engines, including a 2.8 litre turbo V6 and a four-cylinder diesel with CO2 emissions lower than 140g/km.
According to British car magazine Autocar, Saab has revealed a full-size model of the new 9-5 to potential suitors for the brand, which it expects to have in production toward the end of 2010 to replace the current 13-year-old model.
Saab has arranged a deal with GM that will allow it to continue its use of the Epsilon and Delta (upon which the Opel Astra is built) without any licencing costs.
It seems that deal may work both ways, with reports out of Europe in May suggesting that the new 9-5 is so good, GM CEO Fritz Henderson is hesitant to let Saab go. If GM can find a way to offer the 9-5 in the US as a re-skinned model under one of its remaining brands, it could prove to be a boon for the American manufacturer.
Here in Australia, Saab - like many of its peers and thanks to the global financial crisis - has fallen on hard times, and a 9-5 good enough to give GM's boss misgivings about letting the brand go might go a long way to lifting the marque's sales downunder.
In May here, Saab sold only 40 cars, down from 122 for May in 2008 (VFACTS). Year to date, GM's premium Swedish brand has managed only 226 sales in Australia - less than half the 592 sales for the same period last year.