- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Saturn’s innovative new Ion replaced its “long-in-the-tooth,” but dependable S-Series, debuting earlier this year with a four-door sedan version. The Ion was the first vehicle to appear on the all-new Delta platform architecture in a space-frame construction and one-piece body shell.

New from the ground up, the sedan is followed by the Ion Quad-coupe, featuring dual rear access doors, patterned after the SC3 concept (with but one additional rear door on the driver’s side).

Though related, the two models employ distinctively different exterior design cues, with the Quad-coupe exhibiting a sportier flair.

Both models incorporate traditional Saturn elements, such as “ding-resistant” polymer body-side panels (fenders, quarters and doors) and upswept, flying-wedge form.

The Ion is larger than its predecessors with a more substantial look employing more contemporary shapes and lines outside, with highly functional forms and unique use of textures inside.

The Ion was developed to attract a more youthful audience to the fold with both a bolder, sportier image, and affordability in a vehicle that is not just another small car.

College students represent a strong market for the Ion and some 65 college campuses will be the focus of interactive displays for the fun-to-drive and easy-to-personalize new Saturn model.

Custom polymer applique designer roof rails and interior trim bezels are interchangeable, allowing the matching of interior accents and patterns.

Changes may be made in less than an hour using simple tools.

Power for both Ion models comes from an adequately powerful, yet economical 2.2-liter Ecotec in-line four-cylinder engine that generates 140 horsepower and develops 145 foot-pounds of torque.

The sedan is available with either a five-speed manual transmission as standard or an optional five-speed automatic transmission.

The Quad Coupe will feature a standard five-speed manual or a CVT continuously variable transmission — the same found in the Saturn Vue SUV. The Ion continues Saturn’s front engine/front-wheel-drive tradition.

Significant new features for the Ion are variable, electric-assist power steering, dual-stage frontal air bags and side-curtain air bags for all outboard seated passengers.

Rear seating provides full three-point belt systems with a 60/40 seat and fold-down backs, allowing more flexibility for cargo in the already segment-leading trunk volume capacity (14.7 cubic feet).

The unique, center-mounted, hooded gauge cluster is angled toward the driver for easier reference, while remaining visible to the front seat passenger as well.

The Saturn Ion Quad-Coupe test car wore a Silver Blue metallic exterior and featured a dark gray leather interior. The base sticker was set at $15,530 with the car’s final price coming to $17,160 after adding: the travel package with map lights, auto-dimming inside mirror, external temperature gauge and digital compass; floor mats; leather appointments; anti-lock brakes with traction control; deck-lid spoiler; and destination charges.

The Saturn Ion Quad-coupe is not your typical compact car, but rather an ideal, affordable coupe with rear access doors on both sides, suitable for duty to serve a couple or small family.

It works just as well for a single college student, offering a sportier image, making it the ideal choice for the more youthful set.

The Ion’s design is clean and stylish, if not exciting, and functionality is key with an impressive list of standard equipment and features.

Saturn’s latest entry certainly seems on target in attracting new younger customers and in establishing a stronger presence in the compact vehicle marketplace.

Adequate power and operational economy are provided by the Ecotec four-cylinder engine that delivers an average of 26 miles per gallon in city driving, and 33 mpg on road trips. You won’t mistake the Quad-coupe for a sports car, but you shouldn’t be disappointed by its performance either.

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