Little Black T-Shirt on Wheels
by Gaywheels.com Staff
Imagine waking up, going to take a shower, turning on the water and nothing happens. Now imagine walking out to the kitchen to ask your roommate what the hell is going on and he shows you his new $175 t-shirt from Georgio Prada Armani Dolce Vita. You aren’t sure what to react to first, the fact that he paid $175 for a T-SHIRT or that he is WEARING your water for the next month!
The moral of this (true) story is that people have different priorities and place different values on brands. Just yesterday I heard a story on the radio where one of the interns went without electricity so that he could buy the latest $300 jeans. These sorts of people are either very concerned about what others think of them or simply put a much higher value on looking good than basic necessities. In either case, they are a marketer’s dream.
Personally, I cannot fathom paying such a premium for a brand when products from other brands deliver the same, if not better, experience at a lower price. Clearly there is an audience for these products but I am not of that mindset. Then again, this is coming from a gay man who shops solely at the GAP (its like Garanimals for adults….everything goes with Khaki!).
So, how does this relate to cars? After spending a week in the 2006 Saab 9-5 SportCombi memories of that shower-less morning came flooding back. Like my roommate who bought the t-shirt from Milan BECAUSE it was from Milan, consumers who buy this vehicle are most likely dedicated to the Saab brand. Don’t get me wrong, he looked amazing in the t-shirt but it wasn’t the shirt that made the man.
Saab refreshed the 9-5 Wagon for 2006 adding a new fascia and updating the name to reflect the universal disdain for the “wagon” label. The result is a great looking, comfortable, versatile vehicle that in the 2.3T trim we drove, was a bit of a let down when it came to forward motion. The seats are very nice, seating position is great and for a car that shares its basic architecture with other global products, it certainly kept the “Saab feel.” Unfortunately, it still feels like a Saab from 10 years ago. The interior quality is subpar in this day and age, and it simply doesn’t feel as good as some of its competitors. The design is definitely there, with great ergonomics and thoughtful touches that make a Saab unique. Unfortunately, the perceived quality of the materials isn’t up to the expectations that the design sets.
All of the above could be forgiven if the drivetrain delivered. On paper, it looks all good. A turbo-charged, “High Output” 260HP 4-cylinder, 5-speed manual with the optional sport-tuned suspension. Sadly, it doesn’t live up to the expectations. Launching in first gear is an exercise in anticipation of pending acceleration and then near panic as the turbo finds it sweet spot and nearly tears the wheel from the drivers hand. Shifting to the next higher gear simply starts the exercise all over again. Only when ignoring the incessant “shift up” light and keeping the engine on boost can the driver manage speed without drama. There is a lot of power to be had but one must work hard at harnessing it.
The Saab 9-5 SportCombi IS a nice highway cruiser, handles very well with the sport suspension and it offers a lot of usable room. It also has a great warranty (4 years/50,000 miles) and comes with free scheduled maintanance for the first three years up to 36,000 miles. However, when compared to other offerings in the marketplace at the same price point, there are many alternatives at a lower price with more refined drivetrains. For example, for about $3,000 less, you can get a 3.6L VW Passat AWD wagon.
At the end of the day, the 9-5 SportCombi is like the aforementioned little black t-shirt, it looks great and if you must have a Saab, it will make you happy. It might not make sense to the GAP-buying rationalists like me but then again, that isn’t a concern for this target buyer is it? Do your loved ones a favor though, don’t forget to pay the utilities.
Saab a gay-friendly company.
Get more detailed information on the 2006 Saab 9-3 in our New Car section
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