2011 Saab 9-5 Aero: Driven

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Very quietly, a new, completely redesigned 9-5 sedan arrived last year. As Saab was changing hands and repositioning itself as an automaker, much of the car-shopping public didn't even know.

In recent months, as we've followed the nail-biter of whether or not Saab as we know it will survive, there was a time when it looked like the 9-5 might end up being a collectible oddity, and gems like the upcoming 2012 Saab 9-5 SportCombi might not make it at all.

We're glad we finally got the chance to get a first drive and spend some quality time with the 2011 Saab 9-5 sedan, as it's quite possibly one of the best new efforts of the model year, with a cohesive design that takes a different direction than the main luxury sport-sedan current; an excellent, spacious interior; and a great mix of supreme isolation, driver involvement, and uniquely Saab character throughout.

Sleek, sophisticated, smart design

In pictures, the 2011 Saab 9-5 might look a little long, perhaps a little too rounded in back, a little too uninteresting with its smooth, uninterrupted sheetmetal; but it all makes sense in person. This is a very sleek, sophisticated design that looks great from all angles and has great proportions; its lack of creases and cutlines, the somewhat lower beltline and relatively level tail, and lack of creased sheetmetal all add up to something profoundly different than what the rest of the market is offering up—and that's a good thing.

Inside, the 9-5 isn't quite as much of a breath of fresh air, but it's a good-looking cabin. Saab design heritage is here in full force, with the swoopy instrument-panel design, canted toward the driver, and a wide center console—plus of course details like the joystick air vents, ignition button located on the center console, and the turbo boost gauge up top, retro all-lower-case lettering and all.

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