*Note: This is my first post on here and the first time my amateur writing has been shared publicly. Please feel free to critique as improvements are always welcome. Thank you for reading.
My current job allows me opportunities to drive some of the rarest modern cars around! Rarer than most offerings from McLaren, Ferrari or Lambo (pretty sure that's what it is, dude). I'm talking, of course, of everyone's favorite main-stream unicorn: The 2010/11 Saab 9-5.
Yesterday afternoon my co-worker, knowing my love of cars, Saabs and road trips, asked if I'd do what he probably should have done (since he sold the car). But, since that included driving the unicorn of the unicorns, I politely and nonchalantly said "Okay, sure" while, internally, all that went through my head was:
Victory is mine!
Part 1: An Auspicious Start
The plan was to meet our customer at his local DMV (1.5hr away) to swap the "old" car for the "new" car where he could instantly get it registered. 1:30 is the scheduled departure that makes everything work out perfectly - but, how often does that really happen!? The caveat for the customer picking up this car is that everything works as it's supposed to, since he lives 2hrs from the dealer and has a hard time getting all the way over to the next state to get his car worked on! The nerve of some people, huh? And, since that was the only thing that mattered, I'm sure you can guess how the rest of part 1 goes....
I load into a 2011 Saab 9-5 2.0T Premium in a decent medium gray and 25k miles on it. So far, so good, right? Yup. Half an hour in and the TPMS light comes on and starts flashing. Then the center display says "Hey dumb ass, you really thought this was going to be THAT easy!?" Or something like that. Back to the dealership I go and we re-calibrate the sensors and off I go again.
Part 2: Phew!
Fortunately, that was the only mishap of an otherwise lovely drive through the Champlain Valley and into the Adirondacks. Now I'm supposed to meet him at his house, since by the time I get to him, the DMV will be closed. These cars do drive pretty nicely. There's a little more road noise from the Continentals than you might expect from a premium brand car, but at least it's not deafening! This is by no means a small car, but, the handling is very reasonable and the grunt from the boosted 2.0L 4-cylinder is great - even if the noise it makes isn't as intoxicating as the turbo whistle. Over the river and through the woods - to the middle of nowhere I went nestled in the all-day-comfortable seats and classic rock coming through the speakers. All is still well when I reach my destination and chat with the cars new owner for awhile.
Part 3: The real reason for the journey.
So, while that is all well and good - I have driven a very similar car from Florida to VT, so, driving another one 100mi wasn't the factor of my excitement for this particular trip. Nope, the real reason was a car that's even rarer - even though it's a 2011 Saab 9-5 2.0T Premium... But, rather than explain why it matters - here's a picture:
Yep - your eyes do not deceive you - that's 3-pedals and a 6-speed!
Of course, I actually went into this adventure thinking - this is a big car and will likely come across as a car that's better with the slushbox (yeah, yeah, blasphemy....blah, blah, blah...don't worry, it goes uphill from here). However, I grew to like it in a fairly short amount of time. The automatic does decently as an automatic, but, the manual mode is easily outclassed by a Mazda. Don't get me wrong, though, this isn't a sports car and it's not as pleasurable an experience as the snick-snick of the 2-3 shift in my RX-8, but, it's still nice. Shifts happen slower than fast, but, the stick is weighted and deliberate and the clutch feel is great and engages smoothly and drama-less. On a twisty road, it feels great and helps the little 2.0L propel you along very nicely. While heel-toe stuff isn't gonna happen, a rev matching blip is still easy. And, to top it off, without even trying and including some large Adirondack hill climbs, I managed 28.5 mpg.
Part 4: The rest.
Other thoughts about these cars: Body panels may not be the easiest to come by, but, they are great driving cars that get decent mileage (even an XWD Aero V6 will get 30 mpg on the highway if you are careful with it.). The interior space is great for 4 but might be a little awkward if you get to sit on the hump. The trunk will easily fit 4 bodies...err...golf bags. And, they seem to be pretty reliable cars (We've sold more than 30 of them in the 2.5yrs I've been here and haven't seen any major issues!). On the downside, at their original price point, the technology was a bit lacking. You only got parking sensors - no camera's and you can't stream audio with the bluetooth (and the USB port is picky about what you stick in it (...that's what she said...)). With the small windows all around, visibility isn't as hampered as you'd think - right up until it's time to park it (those sensors come in handy). However, at their current price point, it's a hell of alot of car for the money.
Thank you for your patience and if I'm allowed to write again, I'll see what else I can come up with!