The Shortlived Saturn Sky

2007-2009 Saturn Sky sports car

Saturn Sky roadster

Once in a while events unfold that seem, however briefly, as if the stars are in alignment. It makes one think all is right with the world and that things are the way they should be. That’s just plain nonsense. The universe doesn’t care – it’s entirely impartial. But regardless the Saturn Sky might have been one of those that was destined for greatness in the car universe.

Based on GM’s Kappa platform the Sky arrived in mid-2006 as an early 2007 model, positioned as the more upscale cousin of the Pontiac Solstice, with a unique exterior and interior. Base price started around $23,000.

The Kappa platform also served as the basis for the Opel GT and Daewoo GX2 roadsters for international markets. All were manufactured at the GM plant in Wilimington, Delaware, which has since closed.

The Sky was like a junior Corvette with a front engine, manual folding top and rear wheel drive layout – roughly half the cost for half the cylinders.

Engine & Drivetrain

The base model came standard with an all aluminum 177 hp Ecotec four cylinder engine displacing 2.4 liters. While the all-aluminum design was not known for its smoothness, it did feature variable valve timing and considerably more power than its chief competitor, the Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Power was channeled to a choice of a five speed manual or automatic transmissions, and anti-lock brakes were standard.

Chassis

With 53/47 percent front/rear weight distribution, double A-arm suspension all around and 18 inch wheels riding on a short 95.1 inch wheelbase, it was destined to be nimble in the handling department. Electric power steering and anti-lock brakes rounded out the basic specs.

Interior

The chrome accented interior is known as an area where improvements would have been helpful. Critics frequently griped about the position of the seat recliner adjustment knob, window switches and cupholders, the instrument cluster shared with a Chevy Cobalt, and a non-integrated key fob – plus the usual lack of storage space, a common complaint about two seat sports cars, particularly convertibles, when compared with minivans. All of these were inconsequential compared with the upside.

The Redline

Not long after launch the 2007 Saturn Sky Redline edition was introduced. It was equipped with more power, to the tune of 260 hp, and stiffer suspension. The normally aspirated 2.4 liter unit was replaced by a dual overhead cam (DOHC) 2.0 liter turbocharged and intercooled four cylinder engine featuring direct injection.

Suspension enhancements consisted of stiffer springs and shocks, and larger diameter anti-roll bars front and rear. Other changes encompassed a taller final drive ratio and the addition of GM’s Stabilitrak electronic stability control system, which could be switched off for the tail happy (or those who wished to be).

The Redline edition not only made more power, it was also more efficient, with an EPA city/highway rating of 19/28 miles per gallon compared with 17/26 for the non-turbo manual transmission models. Curb weight was a whisker under 3,000 pounds, and stickered for under $29,000.

The Sky could sprint from zero to sixty in about five and a half seconds, pull about 0.90g in the skidpad and top out around 140 mph.

Running changes to all models included a shorter third gear in the manual transmission for better acceleration, and the addition of a torque tube brace to solidify the link between the transmission, driveshaft and rear differential.

While not quite on the level of the MX-5 Miata in terms of acclaim, the Sky could have evolved into a formidable competitor for the Mazda sports car. Unfortunately for all involved, production of the Sky met an early end in 2009, a casualty of GM’s bankruptcy reorganization and subsequent elimination of the Saturn and Pontiac brands. Perhaps one day GM will develop a new version for Chevrolet. But exactly how strong of a competitor it may have become had its production not been interrupted we’ll never know.

Photo courtesy General Motors.

Leave a Reply