Another day, another set of new model preview photos. At this rate there'll be nothing that's genuinely new at the forthcoming Frankfurt Motor Show at all. This car stands out, though, because it's the new Saab 9-5, and the launch of an all-new Saab is a roughly once-in-a-decade event.
In fact since it was founded just after the Second World War, the Saab's car-making operation has only ever produced about half a dozen distinct basic models. As a small, if innovative player, for most of its history, the Swedish company made the best of what it had, rather than starting with a clean sheet every few years. The 99, for example, was in production from 1968 to 1984; a revamp of the 99 and an extended nose produced the first-generation 900 (1978 to 1993). The 99 and the 900 shared the same hatchback rear but had different tails in saloon form. The 90 (1984 to 1987) had the shorter nose of the 99 and the back-end of the 900 saloon.
Since 1989, however, Saab has been able to lean on its owner General Motors for technology, and the new 9-5 is no exception. In fact it's based on the same GM platform as the Vauxhall/Opel Insignia, but offers a lot of techie features, such as a head-up display, and styling inspired by recent Saab concept cars such as the Aero X. A wide range of engines will be available – and the 9-5 wouldn't be a Saab if these didn't include turbos and ethanol-powered options.
But now the Saab story has come full circle. The company is being sold by GM to a consortium including the sports-car manufacturer Koenigsegg, and could once more become a small Swedish player developing new models solo on a shoestring. If history and the original 99/900 are anything to go by, this 9-5 could still be around in some form or another in 2030.