The Saab 9000 enjoyed a good run as the automaker's first executive sedan, debuting in 1986 and retired by Saab in favor of the 9-5 model in 1998. A four-door commuter car with seating for six, the 9000 took the slot vacated by Saab's earlier and smaller 900 model. The advent of the 1990s brought changes for the 9000, with a hatchback model joining the original notchback. The Saab 9000 was built on an identical chassis to those of the Alfa Romeo 164 and the Fiat Croma, and it shared these vehicles' reputation for European sportiness.
Giorgetto Guigiaro and Bjorn Envall designed Saab's 9000 line, which the automaker produced in its Swedish and Finnish factories. Earlier versions of the 9000 were powered by one of two 2.0-liter, 4 cylinder engines: a standard 130 hp engine or a turbocharged, 165 hp unit. Saab upgraded the engine size in 1990 to 2.3L. Models were available with 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmissions. In 1995, the automaker added the option of an automatice V6 engine. This engine consumed an estimated 16 mpg in urban and 24 mpg in rural driving, as compared to the 4-cylinder, standard engine consumption figures of 18/26 for the same model year of 1995.
The first generation of Saab 9000 featured a 5-door hatchback profile with a water-cooled, turbocharged engine. By the mid-90s, Saab's 9000 lineup consisted of the S hatchback, the Turbo hatchback, the CD notchback, and the CD Turbo notchback. The 9000 Aero hatchback came out in 1994, and the CD notchback went by the wayside. The Aero was the top 9000 model, with a 225 hp turbocharged engine. The Aero featured in-gear acceleration which made it capable of climbing from 50 mph to 75 mph in less time than a Ferrari Testarossa. In 1997, Saab offered a special anniversary, limited edition 9000 Aero featuring optimal luxury trim. During the 12-year span of production, Saab manufactured over one-half million 9000 models.
The interiors of the Saab 9000s are known for their functional design that is couched in European style. Hardwood trim, real leather upholstery, comfortable seats and plenty of headroom for taller drivers all come with the territory. Models introduced in 1994 and beyond include a Saab information display module that provides drivers with information on fuel consumption, alternator voltage, and outside temperature. One of Saab's most luxurious 9000s was the limited-edition, 1992 Carlsson, complete with rear window blinds, burled walnut interior trim and a specially-tuned turbocharged B202 engine.
During its 12-year tenure, the Saab 9000 line enjoyed a four-year run of Best Bet" recognitions from The Car Book. The American Automobile Association designated 1993, 1995, and 1996 9000 models as its Top Picks in their price class.
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