This Saab will show some pricier luxury cars what a turbocharged Griffin's rear looks like
Watch this Griffin take off Saab 9-5 Griffin

A GRIFFIN is a rather funky creature with the body of a lion, the head and wings of an eagle and feathers all over its back.

You would not want to find one in your back yard definitely.

This particular Griffin, however, has the body of a Saab 9-5 and a glass sunroof on its back.

You may feel rather pleased about having one in your driveway, too.

As executive cars go, the 9-5 is a terrific effort from Saab.

It is roomy, comfortable, nicely-equipped and practical. Now that the Griffin model has been introduced, however, a nice car has been made even nicer.

What sets the Griffin apart from the other 9-5s is its engine.

It is the only 9-5 with six cylinders, and the smoothness of its engine defines the car's character.

Although the Griffin's V6 idles rather lumpily, it soon turns silky when revved up.

The nice thing about it is the unfussed nature with which it goes about its business of driving the car.

The other nice thing about the engine is the fact that it feels brawny enough to pull a freight train.

Although Saab quotes a rather modest figure for the Griffin's 0-100kmh time, the reality is that once the car is on the move, it feels fast enough to outrun its own shadow.

For that, Saab can thank turbocharging. The Swedish company turbocharges everything these days, and even its large, three-litre V6 gets the forced-induction treatment.

In the Griffin's case however, the turbocharger has been given a unique twist by Saab's engineers.

The turbine is driven by the exhaust gases from just three cylinders, but the compressor feeds air into all six cylinders.

The tiny turbo boosts at a gentle 0.27 bar, as well, which does away with the need for a wastegate to manage boost.

The result of this so-called "asymmetric-turbo" system is a curious exhaust note that sounds rather fruity and enough mid-range power to topple the Westin Stamford.

Yet, for all its speed, the Griffin is not the driver's car of the 9-5 range.

That distinction goes to the 9-5 Aero, with its more powerful high-pressure turbo engine and sharper handling.

In comparison, the Griffin rolls more, turns in a little lazily, and understeers sooner.

There is room for improvement in other areas as well.

For a premium car, the Griffin allows too much noise into the cabin, the sunroof eats into front headroom somewhat, the cabin is as austere as a dark cave and certain luxury touches, such as a self-dimming rear view mirror, are missing.

Nevertheless, the Griffin is happy to soak up hours of motoring without failing to deliver anything less than supreme comfort.

And, in a straight line at least, it will show a number of pricier luxury cars what the rear end of a Griffin looks like. Once it flaps its wings, this car flies.

FAST FACTS

Saab 9-5 Griffin

Price: $232,000, including COE

Engine: 2,962 cc 24-valve turbocharged V6

Power: 200 bhp at 5,000 rpm

Torque: 310 Nm from 2,500 rpm to 4,000 rpm

Top speed: 235 kmh

0-100 kmh: 8.3 seconds

For enquiries: Contact Trans Eurokars on 363-3003