Bimmer325

Saturn Poised to Steal the Show

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Bimmer325    18

Saturn Poised to Steal the Show

By Bimmer325

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Saturn's transition from second-thought to center-stage will soon be more apparent than ever. GM's planetary marque is a brand in transition, and the General isn't banking on any-one model to spark its turnaround. Rather, an entire fleet of compelling product is set to steal the show. The stage, it seems, will be the New York International Auto Show next month.

Saturn's New Outlook

Saturn's revolution commenced with the debut of the Sky, and if any vehicle could shatter perceptions of a brand, this is it. Its crisp origami design aesthetic is a mere sample of what’s to come, and those not familiar with it may be in for a shock the next time they pass their Saturn dealer. The Solstice is a proven hit, and with edgier exterior styling and a gorgeous interior, the Sky is sure to follow suit. The next chapter (and arguably the more crucial one) will be producing practical Saturns that still steal the show. If the Aura is any indication, Saturn has the right idea. In just a few short weeks, we'll see if the rest of the new lineup can keep up.

[001. AURA] Aura replaces the defunct L-Series and will likely be the volume-leader of the new Saturns. With the Aura, Saturn's bringing some much-needed spice to the bread and butter sedan market, and just might take a serious bite out of the midsize menu in the process. It’s the latest in GM's fleet of Epsilon midsizers, and looks to be the most polished. It'll be the only Epsilon model to offer GM's high-feature 3.6-liter V-6 (good for 250 horsepower), and will be among the first to offer GM's all-new six-speed automatic transmission. Even though it'll be aimed at the higher-end of the market, the Aura will likely steal considerable sales from more mainstream competitors like Camry and Accord in four-cylinder form. From a styling standpoint, the Aura offers more visual pizzazz than either, and if the production interior is anything like the stunning concept, it'll be a serious contender. If the Sky’s illustrious cockpit came to fruition, the Aura’s cabin seems like a feasible reality. In V-6 form, even more-upmarket competitors like the TL won't be out of Aura's reach.

The production model will debut alongside Nissan's redesigned Altima and revamped midsizers from both Chrylser and Dodge, but thanks to the concept, the Aura's already garnered more attention than the Nissan and DCX pair combined. If the production version holds true to the concept's winning formula, it'll be a recipe for success.

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[002. OUTLOOK] The Lambda-based Outlook will slot above the current VUE in Saturn's lineup and is set to debut in near-production form (à la Enclave) next month. Outlook production will begin in November along with the GMC Acadia. "The Outlook will be a key vehicle in our strategy to grow the Saturn brand," said Jill Lajdziak, Saturn general manager, "It will get us into the expanding midsize crossover segment with a vehicle that features dynamic design and a refined, sophisticated interior." The Outlook will debut with the same 250-horsepower V-6 as the Buick Enclave, with an optional V-8 (Saturn's first) possibly becoming available later on. Like the Aura, the Outlook will have Japan's most formidable contenders in its crosshairs. If the Enclave is any indication, the Outlook has immense promise.

[003. VUE] The next-generation VUE will also be among the trio of never-before-seen Saturns debuting in New York. Saturn will tout a concept version of what’s essentially an Opel Antara in Saturn guise. Saturn's all-new VUE will begin production next spring as an '08 model. The production version will resemble the European-market Chevrolet Captiva, with revised front and rear fascias. Based on an updated version of GM's Theta architecture, the VUE will retain its trim dimensions and likely include a Green Line hybrid variant shortly after its debut. Like all new Saturns, the VUE will lose its dent-resistant polymer panels in favor of conventional steel sheetmetal. Saturn's transition to steel will lower production costs by up to 40%, while allowing the Saturn line to mirror Opel more effectively. Sure, Saturn will be losing a piece of its identity, but its gaining competitive and appealing product in the process. All joking aside, I'll just be more careful about where I park my Aura.

[004. SKY RED LINE] If you think the Sky is a complete departure from the Saturn of old, just wait for NY. In addition to the models we've yet to see, Saturn will reveal the Sky Red Line, a high-performance version of the Kappa-based roadster we've fallen in love with. Expect upwards of 260 horsepower along with revised exterior styling and a slightly tweaked interior. The Sky will be the first of the new Saturns to receive Red Line treatment. Saturn’s Kappa will likely sell at or slightly above list price thanks to the carmaker’s consumer-friendly pricing policy, whereas the Solstice is currently commanding a sizeable premium over its $20,490 MSRP. Depending on the dealer, the feature-laden Sky just might turn out to be the better deal.

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Why Saturn Has What it Takes

Saturn's lineup will double in just over a year. The "new" Saturn will emerge a completely revitalized brand with all-new models and an all-new lease on life. But Saturn's journey upmarket won't take place overnight. As of this year, its dwindling lineup was down to just three models, two of which are held among GM’s weakest product. Throw in Saturn's history of producing cars with lackluster performance and lifeless design and the task grows even further.

But there is good news. Even in the absence of compelling product, Saturn's sterling customer-service kept buyers loyal. Establishing a brand renowned for dealer-satisfaction is no easy task, but it’ll aid the upcoming product assault in gaining momentum. According to GM’s internal data, more than 70 percent of Saturn buyers wouldn't have considered another GM brand, and about half that number would’ve bought an import instead. Numbers like these give Saturn a valued spot in the General’s stable, and just might explain why Oldsmobile got the axe instead. Moreover, Saturn was among the first to adopt the haggle-free buying process it's renowned for (the same strategy brands like Scion seek to emulate). In the eyes of consumers, putting "people first" made competitive product almost beside the point.

Age is also a factor. Saturn is just 16-years old, and we've all witnessed the awkward younger sister mature into an enticing young woman before. Just look at how far Cadillac has come. Five years ago, the brand’s claim to fame was building cushy land-yachts aimed at the blue-haired crowd. Like Cadillac, Saturn’s image is still very much salvageable. For years, the only thing lacking has been product with genuine widespread appeal. With a revamped lineup waxed and ready to be unveiled, the equation may soon be complete.

After a decade on life support, the planets have finally aligned in Saturn’s favor. With fresh designs, spirited performance, and production costs rivaling GMC, the brand on the brink of extinction may soon become the center of GM’s universe.

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Louis Buccheri

LouBucch621@aol.com

Edited by Bimmer325

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PurdueGuy    72

*clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap*

Didn't realize they were revealing a pre-production next gen Vue, and the Sky RL. I just thought it'd be the production Aura & Outlook. Making me look forward to it that much more (even if we have already seen the Sky RL with a lightning bolt on it). :D

Edited by PurdueGuy

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sciguy_0504    0

Nice article! Saturn is quickly becoming a favorite brand of mine and I know I am not the only one. I just hope GM does not mess it up by production. I think Saturn will outsell all but Chevy within two years.

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ocnblu    733
Encouraging article. The days of my rattly ION appear to be over at Saturn. Good for them!

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Dsuupr    12

Great article. Thanks. Of all the divisions, Saturn is the one that could get magazines like cr to recommend GM products.

Hopefully they won't be changing the suspensions of the Opels to be "American". Otherwise they can kiss top the top selling #'s away.

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Newbiewar    1

ummm one thing to mention...

Bob lutz said that a V8 would not fit in the Enclave...

on a side note... he also said a v8 wouldnt fit in the solstice :pokeowned:

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BigPontiac    28

With all the new products coming, it appears that some of the Saturn dealers are starting to charge a "market adjustment" on the Sky...eerily reminiscent of some of the Pontiac dealers who inflated the MSRP on GTOs and Solstices...

I sure hope this is an isolated incident.

Autoblog article

Full URL: http://www.autoblog.com/2006/03/19/sky-hig...f-new-roadster/

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PurdueGuy    72

it's not totally isolated. The Saturn pricing policy doesn't prevent them from doing it, either. It's a "no haggle" policy, not a "the dealer has to charge MSRP" policy. Still, it feels like an abomination of Saturn culture... Some dealers are being good & not jacking up the prices, though.

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FUTURE_OF_GM    26

[001. AURA]

I just hope the aging Epsilon architecture doesn't bring the Aura down.

And hopefully GM has PLENTY of room to up production :D

[003. VUE]

This one really took me by surprise... I had no idea that a new Theta was ready and it seems really weird that Saturn is introducing a new Vue right after it introduced a re-engineered Vue and 2 months after it introduced the first Vue hybrid.

But I'm all for it. Hopefully this is the same kind of transition we can see with other vehicles, such as the NG Malibu.

[004. SKY RED LINE] If you think the Sky is a complete departure from the Saturn of old, just wait for NY.  In addition to the models we've yet to see, Saturn will reveal the Sky Red Line, a high-performance version of the Kappa-based roadster we've fallen in love with.  Expect upwards of 260 horsepower along with revised exterior styling and a slightly tweaked interior.  The Sky will be the first of the new Saturns to receive Red Line treatment.  Saturn’s Kappa will likely sell at or slightly above list price thanks to the carmaker’s consumer-friendly pricing policy, whereas the Solstice is currently commanding a sizeable premium over its $20,490 MSRP.  Depending on the dealer, the feature-laden Sky just might turn out to be the better deal.

I certainly hope it doesn't steal the Solsti's thunder... And I certainly hope the Sky Redline isn't IDENTICAL to the Solstice GXP. IF not for the excitement of the Solstice and the G6 being a solid seller, Pontiac would be D.O.A. right now.

I think they're different enough and appeal to differing audiences enough that they won't cannabalize each other. Of course, I'm sure that won't stop the media from comparing them to each other and cross shopping them on purpose so that they can try and limit the buyer base and finish Pontiac off.

Why Saturn Has What it Takes

Saturn's lineup will double in just over a year.  The "new" Saturn will emerge a completely revitalized brand with all-new models and an all-new lease on life.  But Saturn's journey upmarket won't take place overnight.  As of this year, its dwindling lineup was down to just three models, two of which are held among GM’s weakest product.  Throw in Saturn's history of producing cars with lackluster performance and lifeless design and the task grows even further.

Funny, how 2 years ago everyone thought that Saturn was the redundant dead duck and now, short of Cadillac or maybe even surpassing Cadillac they are GM's hottest division... I wish GM would do this with ALL of their divisions.

After a decade on life support, the planets have finally aligned in Saturn’s favor.  With fresh designs, spirited performance, and production costs rivaling GMC, the brand on the brink of extinction may soon become the center of GM’s universe.

What GM is doing/has done with Saturn is a stroke of pure genious and is MUCH overdue.

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regfootball    234

ummm one thing to mention...

Bob lutz said that a V8 would not fit in the Enclave...

on a side note... he also said a v8 wouldnt fit in the solstice  :pokeowned:

the impala MC small block HAS to fit into the Enclave. IMHO if it fits in the Impala, it fits in the Enclave.

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Northstar    11

The Enclave wouldn't get the smallblock, it'd be getting the UV8. I think the UV8 can fit, it just happens that the UV8 is not ready yet (probably delayed during the GMT900 pull-ahead).

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turbo200    6

UV8 is not happening anymore, it'll be an updated Northstar instead.

Excellent article! I didn't realize all these debuts would be happening at NY, it's a great high profile way to revive a simple brand. This brand won't be so simple and free of excitement anymore. I am anxious to read the first reviews of the Aura and Outlook. That's a stunning photo up above, Aura is easily the best looking family non-luxury sedan out there.

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titan    0

Encouraging article.  The days of my rattly ION appear to be over at Saturn.  Good for them!

You took the words right out of my mouth...

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titan    0

Bob lutz said that a V8 would not fit in the Enclave...

Current V8s, yes. But isn't the next gen N* supposed to be in there as an option?

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Newbiewar    1

Current V8s, yes.  But isn't the next gen N* supposed to be in there as an option?

it was my understanding from the video i watched that they designed it to not accomidate the v8's size on purpose...

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turbo200    6

it's been confirmed here multiple times by insiders that the next gen DOHC V8 engines would be arriving in the Lambdas. First it was the UV8, until ah-ha confirmed that was cancelled, now the next gen Northstar appears headed for the trucks.

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ZL-1    160

I know it won't come here as an Opel, but I'm very curious to see how the Outlook turns out!

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boblutzfan    0

it's been confirmed here multiple times by insiders that the next gen DOHC V8 engines would be arriving in the Lambdas. First it was the UV8, until ah-ha confirmed that was cancelled, now the next gen Northstar appears headed for the trucks.

The V8 news is disturbing - I had heard the UV8 was delayed or cancelled. I have gone to Ah-HA website and it is gone. Does anyone know what happened?

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PurdueGuy    72

When will the dumpy ION get a complete makeover?

They probably won't bother, since they'll almost definately replace it within the next few years.

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