- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 8, 2006

The Saturn Sky is turning heads. The 2007 roadster is so well-styled people are incredulously stopping and asking, “Is that a Saturn?”

I was asked that question countless times during my week with the Sky. Saturn is out to make a strong statement about its new design direction for its entire brand. Company executives want the European look and they’ve come right out and said so: The Sky signals a new European-influenced design language for Saturn. “The European influence is integral in Saturn’s design,” says Clay Dean, company design director.

As soon as I saw the Sky I noticed its remarkable likeness to the BMW Z roadster. My neighbor drives a Z, so I pulled the Sky alongside it to make visual comparisons. The Saturn has a more American muscle-car look working for it. The front end is bold and the shoulders are huge with flared wheel wells.

The Saturn Sky has a base price of $23,115 and features a 16-valve, 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission. A five-speed automatic transmission is available as an option. The test car had $2,460 in optional equipment and a $575 destination charge, bringing the as-tested price to $26,150.

The options made the Sky look like a performance sports car with its black performance sports car with its black and red leather seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, stainless-steel clutch, brake and gas pedals, and 18-inch chrome-plated aluminum wheels.

The Sky is a rear-wheel-drive two-seater that generates 177 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 166 foot-pounds of torque. The roadster is rated to achieve 20 miles per gallon in city driving and 28 mpg on the highway. The subcompact Sky has a short wheelbase of 98 inches and stands just 50 inches high.

You have to love being close to the road if you’re going to spend much time behind the wheel of the Sky.

I suspect the low-to-the-ground Sky will be a second or third vehicle in the garage of its owners. It’s a great fair-weather weekend day-trip car. It won’t carry your luggage.

With the top down, there is no cargo space. With the top up, there’s very little cargo room.

The flip-top is operated manually. It’s not as simple as tossing the top back as with the Mazda Miata, but there’s nothing difficult about using the Sky’s top. It was very simple for me to handle.

I popped the trunk release on the key fob to disengage the soft top’s two latches from the rear deck lid, released the center-mounted top latch above the rearview mirror, then stepped out of the vehicle to fold the soft top, tuck it away in the trunk and close the rear lid. The top is neatly hidden away leaving a clean flow of sheet metal.

I think some drivers are awaiting the autumn arrival of the high-performance Sky. One man stopped me outside the grocery store to admire the Sky and said, “I hear they’re coming out with a real fast one.”

He was referring to the upcoming turbocharged Sky Red Line. This roadster will have red-hot performance to match its hot-looking exterior styling. The 2007 Sky Red Line has a preliminary horsepower rating of 260 at 5,300 rpm and 260 foot-pounds of torque at just 2,500 rpm and a performance-tuned suspension.

The Sky Red Line will have unique exterior differences that will set it apart as a performance version of the roadster.

Standard safety equipment on the Sky includes OnStar, dual-front air bags and anti-lock brakes.

And when it debuts this fall, the Sky Red Line will come equipped with StabiliTrak electronic stability control.

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