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Lajdziak Reacts: More on Our Saturn Family

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Posted ImageJill Lajdziak Reacts

In the Fastlane Blog's most-recent update, Saturn's General Manager reacts to comments regarding the brand's revamped lineup. Lajdziak offers insight concerning the Aura's translation from concept to production, the lack of a manual transmission as optional equipment, and the phasing-out of polymer body-panels. Lajdziak's mention of the AutoExtremist's praise is an interesting tidbit, as is her statement regarding the Aura's 14-spoke wheel design. Enjoy the read.

Bimmer325

Editor/Reporter

--------------------

Posted ImageMore on Our Saturn Family

By Jill Lajdziak

General Manager, Saturn

It was great to read all your comments on our new Saturn lineup. I was thrilled to see so many positive responses to the Outlook, Aura, Sky Red Line, Vue Green Line and PreVue concept. Now that the New York International Auto Show has ended, I have a chance to catch up with some of the comments and questions on my last post.

If these are import fighters, why won't there be a manual transmission in the Aura?

For those wanting a manual transmission experience, the all-new 6-speed transmission with the 3.6L V6 does feature clutchless tap-shifting. That allows the driver to get performance and fuel economy similar to what he or she would achieve with a manual. However, we do not plan to offer a manual transmission at this time.

Why isn't the Aura production vehicle exactly the same as the concept shown in Detroit last year?

When you compare the two vehicles, you'll notice that they are, in fact, very similar. I would say that the production vehicle has a bit more refined look on the exterior, with the premium-look 14-spoke wheels on the XR model and a bit cleaner front end. The interior is almost exactly like the concept. For those who want different wheels, there are several designs available. And, if wood trim isn't your cup of tea, you can skip checking that box. It is optional and can be replaced with a brushed metallic look. Finally, listen to what Autoextremist, often one of our harsher critics, said about the Aura: "If you're looking for a sedan that has more character in one wheel than most other sedans have in total, the new Saturn Aura has mainstream ‘hit’ written all over it.”

Will the Outlook and Aura use polymer panels?

Let me start by saying that polymer is a product feature, not an indelible part of the Saturn brand. Saturn has always been about providing a great retail and ownership experience, and we will not lose sight of that commitment to the customer. Future Saturn models like the Sky, Aura and Outlook do not feature polymer panels. We continue to offer them on Ion and Vue for the current bodystyles.

The reasons for the switch are twofold: First, to get these important new vehicles for our portfolio, we are tapping into the strength of the GM engineering and manufacturing community. These will share some development, and will be built on the same line as other GM models. Simply put, vehicles coming off of the same line must be the same body composition (metal with metal, polymer with polymer). Though it has been a sucessful product feature for Saturn for our 15+ years in the marketplace, we feel that it is important to expand the portfolio with new vehicles. This leads me to point #2: These new Saturns will showcase high levels of refinement and quality. Using sheet metal for the vehicle exteriors allows us to tighten the gaps that, on polymer vehicles, were required for expansion in warm weather. Shrinking gaps will increase our performance with perceived quality, and should attract more individuals into the stores to enjoy the Saturn purchase experience.

Can a tall person fit into a car with the Kappa architecture?

Several of the people who worked on the development of the Sky and Solstice are taller than 6', and have been able to drive the car with little to no trouble. However, as is the case with all small roadsters, you should always drive a car to determine you comfort behind the wheel.

What's the difference between Saturn and Chevrolet these days?

Saturn and Chevrolet remain very different brands. Chevrolet is GM's hallmark volume brand. They have, and will continue to have, a comprehensive vehicle portfolio targeting competitors with similar lineups like Toyota, Ford and Dodge. Although we are expanding our offerings, our lineup will not come close to matching the number of segments that Chevy plays in. Also, Saturn does attract very different buyers than Chevy, and the demographics of the brand bear that out. Saturn continues to draw in people whose second choice is not a GM-branded vehicle. So, even though Chevy continues to make progress with non-GM intenders, both brands still play a very important role for the Corporation.

Again, thanks for your responses. Look for these cars at a Saturn retailer later this year.

Link: http://fastlane.gmblogs.com/archives/2006/...t.html#comments

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If these are import fighters, why won't there be a manual transmission in the Aura?

For those wanting a manual transmission experience, the all-new 6-speed transmission with the 3.6L V6 does feature clutchless tap-shifting. That allows the driver to get performance and fuel economy similar to what he or she would achieve with a manual. However, we do not plan to offer a manual transmission at this time.

remember the Austin Powers movie where Dr. Evil sits and shakes his head or whatever in an exasperated fashion at his son Scott and says..."you just ...don't.....get it, do ya?"

"For those wanting a manual transmission experience"

HEY JILLIE..."you just ...don't.....get it, do ya, Scott?"

, AN AUTOMATIC, EVEN WITH MANUMATIC FEATURE, DOES NOT OFFER THE FUNCTION AND USER CONTROL THAT FANS OF A MANUAL TRANSMISSION WANT. Does she even know how to drive a stick? ONLY A TRUE MANUAL TRANSMISSION WILL PROVIDE A MANUAL TRANSMISSION EXPERIENCE. DAMMIT! stop trying to spin this to cover up for being cheap!!! translation: our bean counters were too adamant about not spending the money to certify the extra transmission on the Aura. Our engineers couldn't design a decent enough transmission and clutch and our product planners are too lame to recognize it as a beneficial feature"....is what her response should read.

JUST STOP LYING. a manumatic with paddle shift is NOT A MANUAL TRANSMISSION and manumatics are not an adequate substitute for one. Saturn is, in four simple words here "DUMB, LAZY AND CHEAP"

Edited by regfootball

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Why isn't the Aura production vehicle exactly the same as the concept shown in Detroit last year?

When you compare the two vehicles, you'll notice that they are, in fact, very similar. I would say that the production vehicle has a bit more refined look on the exterior, with the premium-look 14-spoke wheels on the XR model and a bit cleaner front end. The interior is almost exactly like the concept

"they are, in fact, SIMILAR"

ITS NOT EXACTLY THE SAME! WHY ISN'T IT? STOP DUCKING THE EFFING QUESTION!

oooooo, 14 spoke wheels! SO SEXY!!!!!

that makes up for the lack of a v6/stick!

Edited by regfootball

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Can a tall person fit into a car with the Kappa architecture?

Several of the people who worked on the development of the Sky and Solstice are taller than 6', and have been able to drive the car with little to no trouble. However, as is the case with all small roadsters, you should always drive a car to determine you comfort behind the wheel.

I sure as hell couldn't cram my ass into a Sky and I'm 6'-1" A ford focus seems absolutley gushing with leg room and a simple 2 seat roadster like the sky most 6 footers can't pry their arse into. Much less find room for a simple bag of groceries.

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remember the Austin Powers movie where Dr. Evil sits and shakes his head or whatever in an exasperated fashion at his son Scott and says..."you just ...don't.....get it, do ya?"

"For those wanting a manual transmission experience"

HEY JILLIE..."you just ...don't.....get it, do ya?"

, AN AUTOMATIC, EVEN WITH MANUMATIC FEATURE, DOES NOT OFFER THE FUNCTION AND USER CONTROL THAT FANS OF A MANUAL TRANSMISSION WANT.  Does she even know how to drive a stick?  ONLY A TRUE MANUAL TRANSMISSION WILL PROVIDE A MANUAL TRANSMISSION EXPERIENCE.  DAMMIT!  stop trying to spin this to cover up for being cheap!!!  translation: our bean counters were too adamant about not spending the money to certify the extra transmission on the Aura.  Our engineers couldn't design a decent enough transmission and clutch and our product planners are too lame to recognize it as a beneficial feature"....is what her response should read.

JUST STPOP LYING.  a manumatic with paddle shift is NOT A MANUAL TRANSMISSION and manumatics are not an adequate substitute for one.  Saturn is, in four simple words here "DUMB, LAZY AND CHEAP"

Well, most people looking for a family sedan aren't interested in a manual anyway, so the few people who would want one probably doesn't justify the costs of incorperating it. The perfromance car, the Sky, has one...because a manual fits the car and it's target audience better. Most midsizers don't have manuals in their upper trim levels anyway, save for the new Altima.

I wish they had asked why GM still hasn't started using integrated stereos like many brands are using these days. Would like to have seen his answer for it.

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Well, most people looking for a family sedan aren't interested in a manual anyway, so the few people who would want one probably doesn't justify the costs of incorperating it. The perfromance car, the Sky, has one...because a manual fits the car and it's target audience better. Most midsizers don't have manuals in their upper trim levels anyway, save for the new Altima.

I wish they had asked why GM still hasn't started using integrated stereos like many brands are using these days. Would like to have seen his answer for it.

Accord, Mazda 6 and Altima, 3 of the very main competitors the Aura is going after...offer them. Subaru offers a turbo 4 with stick. Fusion will likely see one soon. Also, many VW's and Acuras and lower end Audis, of which Saturn may cross compete for some business with (if their cars are good enough) sell a large %age of sticks. Using your pseudo logic, than the G6 should not get one either.

Its all lip service about Saturn 'wanting to compete'. As usual, GM cops out.

besides, doesn't the opel offer a performance 6 and stick combo? G6 has one

Edited by regfootball

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Accord, Mazda 6 and Altima, 3 of the very main competitors the Aura is going after...offer them.  Subaru offers a turbo 4 with stick.  Fusion will likely see one soon.  Also, many VW's and Acuras and lower end Audis, of which Saturn may cross compete for some business with (if their cars are good enough) sell a large %age of sticks.  Using your pseudo logic, than the G6 should not get one either.

Its all lip service about Saturn 'wanting to compete'.  As usual, GM cops out.

Mazda 6 is a sporty car, Altima is a sporty car, Accord...eh they say it can be sporty with a manual but i dunno...

Is the Aura supposed to be on the sporty side of the segment? I actually don't know. It kinda looks it, but yeah.

The G6, by my "fake" logic, needs a total redesign or something ASAP. A manual won't make up for the rest of its shorrtcomings, and you know it.

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Mazda 6 is a sporty car, Altima is a sporty car, Accord...eh they say it can be sporty with a manual but i dunno...

Is the Aura supposed to be on the sporty side of the segment? I actually don't know. It kinda looks it, but yeah.

The G6, by my "fake" logic, needs a total redesign or something ASAP. A manual won't make up for the rest of its shorrtcomings, and you know it.

they didn't put the 3.6 DOHC in the G6. if it didn't have a redesign, at least they could put the top hardware in it. If the G6 had everything nailed, then maybe saturn could get by without the stick. but the G6 has interior and design issues, and apparently ride and handling issues as well as lacking the upper crust motor. Saturn Aura was supposed to fill all those voids.

Edited by regfootball

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they didn't put the 3.6 DOHC in the G6.  if it didn't have a redesign, at least they could put the top hardware in it.  If the G6 had everything nailed, then maybe saturn could get by without the stick.  but the G6 has interior and design issues, and apparently ride and handling issues as well as lacking the upper crust motor.  Saturn Aura was supposed to fill all those voids.

Yeah I see you point, when the G6 gets the 3.6, that should have a manual tranny. At least it has paddle shifts I guess.

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remember the Austin Powers movie where Dr. Evil sits and shakes his head or whatever in an exasperated fashion at his son Scott and says..."you just ...don't.....get it, do ya?"

"For those wanting a manual transmission experience"

HEY JILLIE..."you just ...don't.....get it, do ya, Scott?"

, AN AUTOMATIC, EVEN WITH MANUMATIC FEATURE, DOES NOT OFFER THE FUNCTION AND USER CONTROL THAT FANS OF A MANUAL TRANSMISSION WANT.  Does she even know how to drive a stick?  ONLY A TRUE MANUAL TRANSMISSION WILL PROVIDE A MANUAL TRANSMISSION EXPERIENCE.  DAMMIT!  stop trying to spin this to cover up for being cheap!!!  translation: our bean counters were too adamant about not spending the money to certify the extra transmission on the Aura.  Our engineers couldn't design a decent enough transmission and clutch and our product planners are too lame to recognize it as a beneficial feature"....is what her response should read.

JUST STOP LYING.  a manumatic with paddle shift is NOT A MANUAL TRANSMISSION and manumatics are not an adequate substitute for one.  Saturn is, in four simple words here "DUMB, LAZY AND CHEAP"

Reg, you :pokeowned: her.....

I've always though of "Jillie" as being SERIOUSLY out-of-touch with reality in this business and her comments about the "6-speed tap shift automatic" providing a "true experience" for a person wanting a manual transmission only proves it.

Only something with a third pedal and a shifter that you coax through 5 or 6 different cogs through a shifter in the console will give ME a "true manual transmission experience."

Why don't people understand that?

Automatic transmissions will NEVER give you that....no matter how deftly you design your "trademarked TapShift" paddles.....and SMG transmissions won't EVER give you that either.....

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Well, most people looking for a family sedan aren't interested in a manual anyway, so the few people who would want one probably doesn't justify the costs of incorperating it. The perfromance car, the Sky, has one...because a manual fits the car and it's target audience better. Most midsizers don't have manuals in their upper trim levels anyway, save for the new Altima.

I wish they had asked why GM still hasn't started using integrated stereos like many brands are using these days. Would like to have seen his answer for it.

For one, the G6 (which shares the same architecure and chassis points) IS engineered to accept a 6-speed manual with the 3.9L engine.

The ONLY thing I can assume is that we don't see a 3.6L/manual combo because there must be added cost in engineering that combo for FWD use.....(CTS offers it in RWD use with longitudinal mounting of the engine.)

BUT that's no excuse......

GM needs to be ahead of the game.....and offer the potent 3.6L/6-speed manual combo in the AURA. Accord offers it (now in the sedan nonetheless) and Mazda offers it.

If nothing else, such a combo might not sell in big numbers, but it would probably give AURA some great press.....C&D and MT would love that car....

Also.....SAAB 9-3 is engineered to accept a 6-speed manual/2.8L turbo combo in their FWD version of this architecture....and we all know that dimensionally the 2.8L HF is similar, if not almost the same, as the 3.6L variant.

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I agree with her on the wheels and wood trim. Most of us have only seen the press photos, and other wheels and trim might look better.

Edited by ZL-1

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I'm almost certain the 6 speed is interchangable between the 2.8L and 3.6L. And the 2.8L turbo even makes similar hp/tq numbers compared to the 3.6L, so that wouldn't be an issue either.

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I'm almost certain the 6 speed is interchangable between the 2.8L and 3.6L. And the 2.8L turbo even makes similar hp/tq numbers compared to the 3.6L, so that wouldn't be an issue either.

Reviews of both the 9-3 2.8T's and G6 GTP's units haven't been very good, though. C/D called the 9-3's "sloppy" and the G6's "primative."

The lack of a four-cylinder/manual combo is more of a concern, IMO, than a V-6/manual.

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a good four cylinder/stick combo makes a lot of sense to people looking for an upscale, larger than compact, sedan with space style and a fun drive. there are a lot more people like that than Saturn is giving credit for.

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Accord, Mazda 6 and Altima, 3 of the very main competitors the Aura is going after...offer them.  Subaru offers a turbo 4 with stick.  Fusion will likely see one soon.  Also, many VW's and Acuras and lower end Audis, of which Saturn may cross compete for some business with (if their cars are good enough) sell a large %age of sticks.  Using your pseudo logic, than the G6 should not get one either.

Its all lip service about Saturn 'wanting to compete'.  As usual, GM cops out.

besides, doesn't the opel offer a performance 6 and stick combo?  G6 has one

:withstupid:

No manual trans and the pump to set emergency brake are very lame. Particularly considering that the Opel, Saab, and Pontiac platform mates offer a manual. Offering it in more cars justifies the engineering effort to improve the gripes cited by the car magazines...

I'm still surprised the Solstice GXP and Sky Redline don't offer a 6 speed manual option. Since Aisin also suppies the 6 speed manual to Honda for the S2000, this seems like a no brainer. My old '99 Miata 10th Anniversary Edition came with a 6 speed manual...in 1999! Appealing to the Consumer Reports set is not the way to sell more cars IMHO...

Nissan is one of the few manufacturers that has always consistently offered a manual trans option in their cars. I've had several Pathfinders and a Maxima all with 5 speeds. For some of us, it's a make it or break it requirement. The choices continue to dwindle due to dimwitted decisions such as this one by GM...

Edited by BigPontiac

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So whats the take rate on V6/sticks these days...less than 5%? The vast majority of the family sedan market simply does not want a stick in their car.

It probably should have a 4 cyl/stick combo for those on a budget...but apparently Saturn is aiming for a more upscale crowd and only offering 2 V6's

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For years Jill's corporate speak has been a topic of disgust on the Saturn fan sites.

well sure, if she always talks without answering the question and lies.

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"they are, in fact, SIMILAR"

ITS NOT EXACTLY THE SAME!  WHY ISN'T IT? STOP DUCKING THE EFFING QUESTION!

oooooo, 14 spoke wheels! SO SEXY!!!!!

that makes up for the lack of a v6/stick!

No, it's not exactly the same. Why it's not like the concept, cost cutting and bean counters. This is not the same GM we used to know in the fifties. If they've had the poor decision makers we have today, we would not have all those nice cars from the 50s and 60s when GM was not afraid to dare with wonderful designs.

:duh::thumbsdown:

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So whats the take rate on V6/sticks these days...less than 5%?  The vast majority of the family sedan market simply does not want a stick in their car. 

It probably should have a 4 cyl/stick combo for those on a budget...but apparently Saturn is aiming for a more upscale crowd and only offering 2 V6's

What GM fails to understand is most people would see a DOHC aluminum block smooth reving inline 4 mated to a good 6 speed manual as being better (more upscale) than a pushrod, iron block raspy V6 mated to a 4 speed automatic.

This is why they will not sell as many Auras as they should. In fact the lack of competitive drive trains in most of their cars is a major reason why their market share is dropping like a stone.

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the G6 GTP manual doesn't sell as well as it could for two reasons

-too expensive for what you get (i.e. pushrod motor, second tier handling, GM typical interior)

-enthusiasts who drive cars with manuals also want the best engine hardware to go with. the 3.6 litre vvt hf whould be in this car, not the 'dated' 3900. the 3900 is not perceived as competitive to the Altima's 3.5 or other cars like the Accord v6, etc.

I'll also add if the car has developed a rep as being a numb handler and lacking steering feel and other chassis refinement, then the buff books will knock it and that kills sales.

The Mazda6 v6/manual sells extremely well. Part of that is because you can get the stick and OHC v6 for a lot less actual money. It is possible to get a Mazda6s v6/stick and just a tiny few options but still get it around 20 grand. Most GTP's rotting on dealer lots will sticker at 28.5 and north. GM is not big on incentives anymore. So your G6 GTP is gonna start around 25 grand. You can say it might be cheaper than an Altima SE-R for example, but just six months ago I could have walked into any Nissan dealer and thrown 25 thou on the desk and walked out with a new base (but extremely well equipped) Maxima that has the GTP trumped on many consumer levels. Add to this the perception that one should never pay as much for a GM car that you pay for other brands and the pushrod factor and the fact that the G6 is still narrow and low compared to the Accord and Altima and even the mazda6 and that's why the G6 manual doesn't sell.

its one of those things where if you build it right and nail everything than having a stick will benefit you. But the G6 now falters on a few other basic levels that affect its sales greatly.

If Pontiac didn't have their collective heads up their asses, what I do is take a base 6 cylinder G6, and offer a simple 'performance' or GT package. the 3.9 engine, the 6 speed (1000 bucks). then i offer a suspension package which includes 4 wheel disc, tight suspension, and the steering upgrade to high perf hydraulic (1500 bucks). if you start with the base G6, one can get one and simply choose those 2 options and get a great high perf value. I would then offer an option for high bolstered seats, but only a few cars. the basic G6 seats are good to begin with.

then you would have your sunroof and sound options.

the G6 would improve its cred 1000 % by simply offering the 3.6/manual combo. Even by selling only 7-10 thou a year. Pontiac IS performance, right?

Edited by regfootball

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