2007 Saturn Sky Road Test
Saturn Sky points the brand in a new direction
If you want to know where Saturn is headed next, look to the Sky.
The 2007 Sky two-seat roadster, along with the soon-to-be-available Aura sedan, are indications of how Saturn, the brand, is evolving. As general manager Jill Lajdziak said, The Sky represents the future of the Saturn brand with its bold new design and level of refinement.
The Sky starts at $24,195. A well-equipped model has a sticker price of just over $26,000.
A turbocharged Red Line with 260 horsepower will start at $27,295.
Visually, the Sky is a knockout. Wherever I drove it, people craned their necks and rolled down their windows to ask what it was.
The Sky's main competition is the Mazda MX-5, formerly called the Miata, and the Pontiac Solstice. The Solstice is basically the same car as the Sky underneath. Pontiac and Saturn are owned by General Motors.
The Skys skin fits like Spandex on a weightlifter. The sharply creased body wraps tightly around the wheels, engine and cabin. The car is slightly larger than the Miata, and heavier.
Large 18-inch wheels fill the fenders and contribute to the muscular look as well as good cornering. Trunk space is minuscule, even with the top up, so its best to bring small, soft bags for a weekend dash to the lake.
Folding the manual top isnt easy. It has to be stacked under the clamshell trunk lid, and that means you have to get out of the car to put the top down. Putting it up isnt easy, either.
The Sky is powered by General Motors 177-horsepower, 2.4-liter, Ecotec four-cylinder engine. The test car had a five-speed manual transmission.
While 177 horsepower may not sound like a lot, the Skys curb weight is 2,933 pounds and performance is modest. Acceleration to 60 miles per hour takes a little over seven seconds. A close-ratio transmission would make the Sky feel livelier and no doubt improve acceleration.
The aluminum Ecotec has dual-overhead cams and four valves per cylinder. Counter-rotating balance shafts are used to reduce vibration. Chains that dont need to be replaced drive the camshafts. Engine accessories are mounted directly to the engine. Despite the work to make the engine quiet, it is still fairly noisy.
A convertible sports car needs a solid chassis to deliver on its promise of outstanding handling. To that end, Saturn developed an entirely new chassis made from hydroformed frame rails that run the full length of the car. The hydroformed rails are joined to stamped steel sections and a reinforced center tunnel. The Sky feels tight and free from frame flexing.
The Sky has a nearly ideal 50/50 weight distribution, Bilstein shocks, rack-and-pinion steering and forged aluminum control arms. The large wheels and four-wheel disc brakes contribute to its handling prowess.
The cockpit-style interior is definitely small. The gearshift sits high on the center tunnel. Big, bold gauges are a bit like those from a motorcycle. The pedals are placed for easy heel-and-toe driving. The Skys instrument panel, with its piano black center section, looks more sophisticated than that of the Solstice.
To keep the Solstice priced competitively, GM relied on creative selection from its corporate parts bin. Backup lamps are from the GMC Envoy, while the door handles, fog lamps, seats, engine and transmission are shared with other GM vehicles.
Price: The base price of the test car was $24,195. Options included Sunburst Yellow paint, leather seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel with fingertip controls, metallic sill plates and stainless steel pedal covers. The sticker price was $26,895.
Warranty: Three years or 36,000 miles.
Point: The Sky definitely puts fun back in the Saturn brand. It is cute, cleverly designed and affordably priced. The 2.4-liter, four-cylinder has decent performance. A balanced chassis and big wheels give it good handling.
Counterpoint: The cabin is small, the engine is noisy, and the trunk space is tiny.