With 260 bhp in a reasonably light car, the Saturn Sky Red Line will more than keep up with the Jones’s – it will leave many of them standing. It is a decent looking car, based on a concept designed in the UK – the Vauxhall VX Lightning.
Whereas the Saturn Sky Red Line’s sister car, the Pontiac Solstice has not earned many plaudits for its road manners, maybe the Saturn Sky Red Line will. Pity about the awful name – after all the red line is a lowly 6,300 rpm -but otherwise here is a car that could be fun.
It looks pretty good, starting with that big air intake below the shallow grille – looks almost as if came straight from the Vauxhall concept car – nicely shaped headlamps molded into the fenders, which have sculptured lines. Also, you get the same sort of air outlets behind the front wheels that they have on Corvettes, and no doubt many buyers will be opting for the Saturn Sky Red Line because they can’t afford the big V-8.
The car has quite a tidy back end with small head fairings behind the cockpit, although it the upward tilt makes the Sky Red Line look narrower than it is. Actually, this rear end is an example of design taking over from common sense. Because the head fairings are integral, the trunk opens backwards so you can lower and raise the hood, instead of being in its own little compartment as on the Mazda. Not very practical.
Under the skin is GM’s hydro-formed frame, which is basically a perimeter frame with the members made from tube which are hydro-formed to improve strength and bend to form the shape needed. It is a good way to make frames in low-volume at low cost. The panels are mostly steel, instead of the lightweight plastic panels Saturn used in its pioneering days.
But the heart of the Saturn Sky Red Line, and what gives it a chance of competing in the sports car market, is the 2.0 liter turbocharged engine which develops no less than 260 bhp at 5,300 rpm. Maximum torque of 260 lb ft (353 Nm) is delivered all the way from 2,500 rpm up to 5,200 rpm. A real lugger, with stacks of mid-range power but still 130 bhp per liter – now this is a truly sporty engine, although it lacks the exhaust note of a high-revving naturally aspirated engine. Still it provides plenty of power, and helps the car accelerate to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds – that’s quick.
This is an all-aluminum unit, with a steel forged crankshaft and oil-cooled pistons to give it durability. Of course, there are four valves per cylinder, with variable valve timing, and to combine power and economy, the engine has direct fuel injection. To give that wide spread of power, the turbocharger has twin scrolls – also used by BMW on the new MINI engine with direct injection.
|Main dimensions (L x Wx H):||161 x 71.4 x 50 in (4,090 x 1,813 x 1,273 mm)|
|Wheelbase and track:||Front-engine/RWD|
|Kerb (cerb) Weight:||2,990 lb (1,356 kg)|
|Miles per Galon:||21/29 mpg|
|Engine and transmission|
|Type:||32. Four cylinder, in-line, four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing, turbocharged|
|Power output:||260 bhp @5,300 rpm|
|Torque:||260 lb ft (353 Nm) @ 2,500-5,200 rpm|
|Transmission:||Five-speed manual or automatic|
|0-60 mph:||5.5 seconds|
|Top Speed:||140 mph (est)|