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|11th June 2008, 12:29||#1|
Senior - BHPian
Review: 2008 Saturn Sky
Review: Saturn Sky
Date: June 10, 2008
Place: Stevens Creek Saturn
It is always very hard to decide what car to buy when you have narrow choices. By narrow choices, I do not mean special editions or trim levels, but cars made by the same parent company but are distinguished by different sub-brands. Something like this has been happening with Pontiac and Saturn. The Pontiac Solstice rolled out in 2006 followed by the Saturn Sky. Both these cars share nearly the same components other than their exterior. The Solstice is full of curves where as the Sky has sharp angles all over it. I had a choice, it was the Sky. Saturn makes 20,000 of these annually. Stevens Creek Saturn dealership was happy to give the Sky in my hands.
To begin with, the Sky is covered with intersecting body lines everywhere which give the car a very aggressive, in your face, look. Cannot say the same for the Solstice, as it is a Sponge Bob compared to the Sky in case of looks. The Sky feels very well settled with its long hood, a cabin and a minuscule boot. The width of the car can only be felt once you are inside it. I preferred to drive it top up as it was a ridiculously hot afternoon. I even preferred to get a manual transmission instead of the automatic.
Two Ecotec engines available on the Sky are a 2.4litre 173bhp Inline-4 and a 2.0litre 260bhp Inline-4 with a turbocharger bolted to it. According to General Motors, the latter is the most powerful 2litre engine ever produced by them. I tested the Sky Turbo. The engine is very smooth and pulls the car very well. Mind you, this two seater sports car, at 1334kg, is heavier than the Tata Indica. But of course, 260 horses are enough to pull this little devil. From the output figures, I am guessing that the turbo is quite capable. According to my observation, the turbo-lag would vanish at around 1900rpm after which the car felt lighter and more agile. The clutch felt hard in the beginning making me stall the car thrice. It might be because the car had just above 100 miles on it. The transmission, a 5-speed manual, was a bit twitchy. One thing I really could not stand was the height of the gear knob, which made the gear change even more tiring. The knob is wide in diameter and very small in height. This made the gear throw feel annoying sometimes. But all this aside, the car is fantastic to drive. Acceleration is smooth and quick. The Sky Turbo goes from 0-60 mph in approximately 5.5seconds. At speeds above 70mph the car felt planted and changed lanes without any hassle. At such speeds there is negligible tyre noise. More importantly, the sound proofing was top notch. The Sky comes standard with the Sound and Heat insulation on the roof. The Solstice does not. The engine being an inline-4 does not really emit any melodious sound tracks other than a regular, but deep, engine note. This Sky Turbo had BFGoodrich tyres with specifications of P245/45 R18, which I felt was the appropriate size for comfort and performance. The ride was soft, Something which I did not expect, this being a sports car. Body roll was not noticeable as the car sits quite low and the tyres provided tonnes of grip. Steering is sharp but big, could do with a smaller one. The car comes standard with GMs Stabilitrak, Traction Control and Anti-lock Brakes. But the best bit is the Limited Slip Differential which promises the proper use of all the available power.
The interior is very nice place to be with right ergonomics, except for the press-open cup holder on the passenger side, which will pop open in a James Bond style every time your leg comes in contact with it. The seats are very comfortable and will hold you tight. The interior has a royal feel. The chrome used at some places adds a nice touch. Overall visibility is good, other than the small window at the back. Two small glove boxes and 3 cup holders are placed for utilitarian use. Electronics include GMs OnStar, Single CD Player with 4 speakers and 2 amps, steering mounted controls are useful for OnStar and music. While the Stabilitrak is continuously on, the traction control has three settings which can turn it off, use it partially or completely. The air-conditioning system cooled the little cabin very well.
The Sky is only available as a soft-top convertible. Unfortunately, it does not come with an automatically folding roof. I believe that none of the cars based on the Kappa platform like the Saturn Sky, Pontiac Solstice, Opel GT have auto-folding roof as it will come at the cost of weight. The last thing a genuine sports car needs is weight. The procedure to put the roof down is not too bad in the Sky. A button in the glove box opens the flaps on the boot, a lever on the roof, inside the cabin, removes the attachment and there your go. Roof gets folded nicely in the boot. Fair enough! After this is done, there is hardly room left for any luggage. A briefcase, yes, everything bigger than that, No. But then, that is not what this car is meant to be. It is meant to be taken at a track day with your talent, rather than a holiday with your family. Actually, it depends on how big your family is! But yes, I do hope that the 2009 Saturn Sky comes with a auto-folding roof.The Sky comes standard with Stabilitrak, Traction Control, Disc Brakes all around, Anti lock Braking System, Single CD Player. OnStar is free for the first year but will cost you $199 annually there on. OnStar is General Motors idea of Global Positioning and Satellite Navigation. In a regular SATNAV, there is a screen on the center console and a annoying lady telling you the directions to your destination. In OnStar, you have to call a number, say your destination and it then calculates the directions and downloads them. You do not see the map but you just hear the directions. Some people may find that having a screen in front is a tad easier. Thus, its a choice.
Roof folded in the boot
At approximately $31,000 it is not what you call cheap. Fuel efficiency figures are 19mpg in the city and 28mpg on the highway. It does come with loads of equipment, a powerful engine and loads of handling goodies. But, around this price there are a lot of choices. Infiniti G35, BMW 1-Series, Mazda MX-5 which is a lot cheaper, Volkswagen EOS. Saturn had almost lost it as a badge some time back and was always looked down on. Just recently, their condition has started to improve. Considering the competition from the European and Asian giants, the Sky might always remain an underdog. One thing that I am sure of is that in this large American continent, the Sky has won a few hearts and that one day, might make it exclusive.
Thanks to Roger Trimble and Dan Honeycutt of Stevens Creek Saturn for making this drive possible.
Last edited by Stratos : 11th June 2008 at 12:33.
|11th June 2008, 20:05||#6|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2004
Thanked: 387 Times
Nice work Nishant. The car looks hot (anything does with the top down )
Nice review too. Go on now give us more such reviews. BTW - when are you getting yourself a nice car ?
EDIT - just convert those dollars and mpg's into Rupees and KMPL, please ? For we Indians.
Last edited by normally_crazy : 11th June 2008 at 20:07.
|11th June 2008, 20:26||#7|
Join Date: Jan 2008
Thanked: 6 Times
31 000 U.S. dollars = 1.28062131 million Indian rupees
19 miles per gallon = 8.07773044 kilometers / l
|11th June 2008, 21:51||#12|
Distinguished - BHPian
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Bangalore / TVM
Thanked: 16,768 Times
Beautiful car! Somehow, the front end reminds me of the previous Honda Accord. A beauty, neverthless.
What is that pointy thing on the boot? I thought it must be antenna, but then saw it has an antenna on the sides.
|11th June 2008, 21:55||#13|
Senior - BHPian
|12th June 2008, 03:10||#15|
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: NYC / BOM
Thanked: 1,627 Times
a spot of red in the big blue.
Excellent report Stratos!
It's a beautiful car, and I was hoping you'd get the Red Line for the test drive.
The general opinion from reviewers is that while the 2.4 litre engine is a softy (the suspension isn't great either), the 2.0 litre turbo, with it's 260bhp and sport-suspension is much better.
How about the build quality - interior and exterior? While Saturn is trying hard to go upscale by rebadging Opel's (Vauxhall's), I wonder if they've managed to improve the quality. Quality, if not up to the mark, will be a major deterrent in anyone considering buying this car.
They have to match up to the Mazda MX-5 Miata if they plan to grab a share of the market. Even with only 166bhp, the MX-5 still is the undisputed king of the affordable sports-car segment - mainly due to it's handling prowess.
While I love the shape and looks, I'm not a big fan of the chrome accents. In this segment, if I can help it, I'd prefer staying away from an automatic.
A V8, in a Saturn!? Why not! It's American - they love their V8's. Here's someone who'll do it for you -> Mallett Cars, Ltd., and it won't cost you a whole lot.
Personally, I'd prefer a nice BMW sourced straight-6 under the hood, with a Lotus tuned chassis.
@flyingspur: Yes, it would resemble the Vauxhall VX220 (or Opel Speedster) because it's design is based on that car.
Last edited by aah78 : 12th June 2008 at 03:15. Reason: Spelling.
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