Saab 9000 CDE

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Description: Saab 900 CDE (1995)

For 1995 Saab has entered yet another model to its top-of-the-line 9000 series - the CDE. It has the distinction of being the first Saab 9000 powered by a V-6 engine rather than a four cylinder powerplant, and the first with a decklid and trunk rather than a hatchback body style.

Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget, abbreviated SAAB and now known as Saab, has been making aircraft since the 1930s. The name translates to "Swedish Aircraft Company". In a swords-to- plowshares venture after World War II, they began to manufacture cars. The original Saab automobiles of the early 1950s were quite distinctive. With serious attention to aerodynamics and engineering simplicity, they were just the sort of cars that one would expect from aircraft engineers. Even the first Saab had front-wheel drive for better handling in inclement Scandinavian weather and road conditions.

The original Saabs and their lineal descendants were subcompact to compact in size, although far more spacious inside than expected. Saab moved into the large car market in 1985 with the introduction of the 9000 series. Originally sold with a variety of normally-aspirated and turbocharged four-cylinder engines, the 9000 now benefits from Saab's recent partnership with General Motors of Europe with the availability of a 3.0-liter V6 engine the CDE, this week's test car.

APPEARANCE: The 9000 series is the most mainstream Saab in appearance. The aerodynamic 4- door body has received some styling enhancements this year in the form of a new, lower, more rounded hood line and front-end restyling with a thinner radiator grille and daytime running headlights. In addition, the back of the CDE now has a real trunk and decklid replacing the more traditional hatchback, as well as an integrated body-colored rear bumper and new taillights. Nicely styled alloy wheels and Michelin P 195/65R 15 91V speed-rated tires hint at performance.

COMFORT: Saabs have always seemed larger inside than outside and the 9000 CDE is no exception. It is a mid-sized car on the outside, but, based on interior volume, the EPA considers it a full-sized car. Luxury, comfort and convenience have not been overlooked. The leather seats are most comfortable, and the front ones are six-way powered with two position memory settings for the driver. They can be heated. All instruments are well-placed and easy to see and use. The sound system is a special Harmon Kardon 150 watt, six-speaker model with excellent fidelity and radio reception. The climate control is quiet and efficiently distributes hot or cold air throughout the cabin. For winter driving in the defog mode warm air is sent to all four windows and the windshield for maximum vision. The steering wheel telescopes for maximum driving comfort, while the windows, locks, alarm system, trunk and fuel door are remotely controlled. A trip computer is part of the CDE package.

SAFETY: Saab has always stressed safety in its automotive construction. In fact a recent ad campaign pictured a wrecked Saab and proclaimed "this Saab died to save your life", and described the particular accident and how its safety features protected the driver and passengers. Among its many safety features are anti-lock disc brakes, three point safety belts, dual front air bags, low-speed impact protection, and safety cage construction with crush zones and 5-mph self-restoring bumpers.

ROADABILITY: The 9000 CDE is the "European touring sedan" of the Saab line. This year its has a re-engineered suspension system designed to improve ride comfort by reducing roll in corners and improving steering response. The Michelin MXV3A touring tires are designed for low rolling resistance, which in tests have shown to increase fuel economy by about 5 percent, and at the same time possess excellent road holding properties.

PERFORMANCE: The '95 CDE debuts a new 3-liter, 210-horsepower V6 engine. This powerplant is manufactured in England to Saab specifications and is a close relative to the V6 found in the Saab 900 series. There is plenty of power and it is delivered in a linear fashion through a smooth 4-speed automatic transmission. Saab aficionados who want more kick have the 9000 Aero turbocharged sports sedan, kind of a four-wheeled fighter plane. The CDE is for those folks who want a car that is like a first-class executive jet.

CONCLUSIONS: With the introduction of the comprehensively-equipped CDE model, Saab's 9000 line now offers sports-luxury cars for every taste.

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