Marketing General Manager Jill Lajdziak is understandably excited about the revitalization of the Saturn
Speaking recently in Joliet at the first of the 2007 GM Collection events, Lajdziak explained that there hasn’t been this much activity surrounding the Saturn
brand since its original “clean sheet” small car project of 1985, which led to the 1991 production models.
Arriving over the next 10 months, Saturn
’s expansion includes the sensational Sky
roadster Red Line, Vue Green Line hybrid, Aura and Aura Green Line upscale sedans and the eight-passenger Outlook crossover.
I recently test drove the rear-wheel-drive 2007 Sky
droptop for one week, and have to admit I enjoyed every minute in the vehicle.
Manufactured in Wilmington, Delaware, the design of the low-slung Saturn Sky
comes across looking more like a $50,000 sports car than the vehicle’s base sticker of $23,115.
That price is slightly higher than the Pontiac Solstice or Mazda MX-5, but ten grand less than the Honda S2000 and BMW Z4.
With destination charge and options, the test car had a total vehicle fee of $26,150. Sky
’s handsome exterior is a skillful blend of chiseled, taut panels with controlled lines and fluid surfaces.
Styling highlights include pronounced fender peaks, decorative hood vents, side marker lights sculpted into the lip of the wheelwells, plus a high beltline and dual rear aero fairings that help curb wind buffeting.
Interestingly, many of the vehicle’s key body panels are produced using sheetmetal hydroforming.
Unlike traditional two die stamping, hydroforming employs a single die and an enclosed water chamber. Water pressure evenly distributes force across the steel sheet, resulting in Sky
's large, sharply creased clamshell hood, as well as its door inner and rear quarter outer panels.
Beneath the reverse-hinged hood is a 177 horsepower, 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder engine with variable valve timing and stainless steel exhaust system.
Mated to the DOHC Ecotec power plant is a five-speed Aisin manual gearbox with short, precise throws. For those who prefer delegating the shifting, an electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission is available.
Adding to the cars aggressive stances are 18-inch, five spoke flangeless wheels with optional chrome finish, all wrapped in Goodyear Eagle tires.
Though the Sky
weights in at a hardy 2933-pounds, I averaged 7.4 seconds from 0-60 miles per hour, and reached 87 mph in 16 seconds for quarter mile runs with the manual tranny and 3.91:1 final drive ratio.
Even with jackrabbit starts, my combined city and highway was 22 miles per gallon.
comes with a hydroformed tube structure chassis, and a suspension that contains Bilstein monotube shocks and hollow stabilizer bars with ball joint sockets.
Enthusiasts will love the roadsters nimble handling via power rack-and-pinion hydraulic steering system.
A feeling of connection with the pavement and minimum body roll were very apparent as I whipped along curvy roads at maximum legal speeds.
Thankfully, the Sky
has standard four-wheel disc brakes with dynamic rear proportioning (DRP) for emergency situations.
DRP, or electronic brake distribution, provides superior braking stability by continuously optimizing front/rear brake balance to accommodate for a wide variety of driving conditions.
Once inside the two-tone cockpit and seated behind the steering wheel, the premium materials used are evident.
My test vehicle came fitted with the optional leather seat inserts; leather wrapped steering wheel, steering wheel audio controls, and stainless steel pedal covers.
Large knobs and buttons on the dash panel make it easy for the driver to discern with minimum distraction, and the hooded gauges keep reflections out.
Contoured bucket seats proved comfortable and supportive for legs and lower back, even during long hauls.
Safety features comprise dual-stage frontal air bags, GM’s Passenger Sensing System, side-impact door beams, three-point safety belts with pretentioners and load-limiting retractors.
The manually operated soft top has a stitched headliner with insert back glass, and the entire canvas roof folds effortlessly away into the deck lid without a trace.
As expected, there's a minimum amount of cargo room in the truck with the roof up, (5.4-cubic feet), and near nil when the top is stowed away (2.0 cu ft).
No cargo room is lost due to a spare tire since there is none. Instead, for the rare occasion its needed, there is a tire sealant and inflator kit.
After fun cruising in the silver Saturn Sky
, I look forward to spending some time in the more potent Sky
Equipped with a 2.0-liter version of GM’s Ecotec four banger and blessed with a dual-scroll intercooled turbo, the Red Line offers a 47 percent increase in power (260 horses) and with 260 foot-pounds of torque is a 57 percent boost over the base Sky
Improved power and a more muscular exhaust note will add the missing cherries on top of the otherwise delicious Sky