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Sky high Saturn

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Since its launch in 1991, American-made Saturn has stood for a lot of things: solid construction, straight-forward pricing and strong customer loyalty. But a few characteristics have eluded the brand: sex appeal, sportiness and trendsetting styles.

There's nothing like a hot new convertible to shake up that image. That car is the Saturn Sky, a two-door, 177-hp compact coupe with a rounded body style reminiscent of a Mazda Miata or Pontiac Solstice.

Saturn is so keen on the new offering, its first sports car and convertible, that the company sent a few preproduction models on a countrywide tour, months before its actual launch by spring 2006.

The Sky landed in the Lowcountry on Nov 5-7. Officials drove the roadster on the North Charleston Coliseum ice at a South Carolina Stingrays game, parked it inside Citadel Mall and displayed the model at an open house at Saturn of North Charleston.

'This is going to turn heads with Saturn,' said Robert Crews, operating partner of Saturn of North Charleston.

To build the anticipation, the carmaker has been vague with specifics about the Sky, which is expected to attract both regular customers and young professionals who like the sports car but haven't had the occasion to go by Saturn dealerships before. There's no set date when the models will appear at dealerships for sale, although production is supposed to start in February. Company officials haven't disclosed a firm price, but it's expected to run from about $25,000 to $30,000.

A slick brochure beckoning the reader with a 'Scratch and sniff inside' sticker to open it shows a twentysomething guy with a sportcoat, wavy hair and scruffy whiskers who calls himself 'a roadster person. I think two seats are better than four. I like that stress has nowhere to go but up and away. I want a front-row seat on the world.'

In the brochure's tag phrase, the company said, 'That's Why We're Designing the Saturn Sky.'

The sports car alone would be a draw. But the convertible's launch is actually the latest in a series of new and reworked models that Saturn has rolled out or plans to introduce in the next year or so, joining the established Ion small car and Vue compact sport-utility vehicle.

The manufacturer's seven-passenger Relay 'family utility vehicle' - cross between a minivan and sport utility - came out earlier this year. On tap for next summer is the Aura sport sedan. And the three-row Outlook midsize crossover sport utility is scheduled to begin production late next year as a 2007 model.

'We've really got exciting cars coming out,' Crews said.

2007 Saturn Sky

Type: Convertible sports car.

Available: Early spring 2006.

Base price (est.): $25,000.

Engine: 2.4-liter, inline, four-cylinder producing 177 hp.

Interior: Power windows, locks and mirrors; remote keyless entry; and CD player with AM/FM stereo and six speakers.

Standard transmission: Five-speed manual with self-adjusting clutch.

Safety: OnStar system, anti-lock braking system, dual-stage front air bags, projector-beam halogen headlamps and fog lamps.

Options: XM satellite radio, six-disc CD/MP3 player, leather appointments and five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.


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Five-speed manual with self-adjusting clutch.

Uh oh...I just picked up on this and if that is the same SAC mechanism BMW uses, then it is worthless...

I've been doing research because I needed a new clutch that isn't the crappy OEM one so I'm going with a UUC performance organic clutch pack (and now I really need a clutch, my throwout bearing went out on me last night but I just ordered my clutch yesterday so I've gotta wait...bummer :( )
But here is some info on the self adjusting clutch mechanism...hopefully they have fixed the problemss...somehow, I doubt it.

Many owners of these cars have experienced mushy clutch feel, inconsistent engagement, and premature wear of the clutch in their manual-transmission cars.  The reason is quite simple - the original BMW (LUK-manufactured) clutch has a new "SAC" (Self Adjusting Clutch) design.  This new mechanism built into the pressure plate is supposed to keep the clutch pedal engagement point the same as the clutch wears... but in all reality, it's a case of  "an answer to a question that nobody was asking." They have added a layer of complexity and feedback isolation, filling a need that didn't need filling - it is not too often that anybody notices that their clutch engagement point as moved 1/2" over 50K miles.

The SAC mechanism itself causes problems; it over- or under-adjusts the pressure plate and therefore causes the clutch to slip or burn out prematurely. They are also known to shift, causing the pressure plate release fingers to slip off the plate, keeping 1/3 of the pressure plate engaged at all times. Bottom line is that the only fix is a complete clutch job, and your dealer is likely to claim "driver abuse". We have seen it happen too many times.

The SAC mechanism may not give a clean release like a standard clutch. Instead of just two sets of springs, there is an adjuster mechanism that makes engagement feel mushy or slow.

Edited by Nick

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I wouldn't worry about the clutch. It has to be the same transmission as found in the Solstice, and no reviews have complained about it.

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oh sure, you don't see any reviews about the clutch now, but think about 50,000+ miles down the line :P

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