The Sky’s the limit for this 2007 Saturn roadster

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The Saturn Sky among other things is a chick magnet – in more ways than one.

We learned this the first night we drove the new roadster. Word quickly spread about the cool car in the parking lot. A parade of waitresses at one of our favorite local eateries filed out and around the car at various times during our meal. It was hard getting refills for our ice teas.

We were interrupted a couple of times by women, husbands or boyfriends in tow, who stopped by our table to ask about the Sky. We tried answering questions without a mouthful of food.

One particularly outgoing 50-year-old — at least that’s the age she claimed — caught us in the parking lot and begged to sit behind the wheel. “Doesn’t this just make me look, well, less than 50?” she asked. “I could have a good time in this car,” she added as her husband looked on amused. We thought anyone could have a good time in the Sky.

Guesses as to the price of the roadster ranged from $40,000 up to about 80 grand.

The Sky may be the best magic trick in the business this year. We were reluctant to tell the assembled crowd milling around the car that it retails just north of $23,500 and our test car with a few options carried a sticker price of $25,355.

The Sky, introduced into showrooms this spring, is the platform sibling of the Pontiac Solstice, which reached dealers late last year.

While the Solstice has an intriguing look, the Sky has a more sophisticated and expensive-looking design. One of its most interesting design features (which is also found on the Solstice) is the dual cowl bumps on the back deck reminiscent of racing cars from the ’50s. The Sky also possesses a more muscular appearance and is the more attractive of the two siblings in our opinion. We have found dozens who agree.

If the new Saturn sedan slated to replace the Ion next year equals the curb appeal of the hot-looking roadster, then the ailing Saturn brand will be on the road to recovery.

Had some of these admirers actually perused deeper and driven the roadster, the affordable price tag would have become more apparent. Things like the top having to be lowered and raised manually, a tricky task the first time and one that takes getting used to. Once the top is stored in its compartment it has to be pushed down in order to shut the lid. It doesn’t fall into a stack as most other manual-top roadsters.

And some of the interior pieces need rethinking such as the unusable drink holders between and behind the passengers. Every time we brushed the holder mechanism with our arm it popped open. And then there’s the window switches which are easier to open with your elbow than your fingers.

These design transgressions are forgiven once behind the wheel, top down, getting admiring glances. And all design transgressions are forgiven again once on the road, particularly on winding stretches of highway where the Sky sits through turns wonderfully glued to the road.

And all is forgiven when you come to a particularly long stoplight and have time to enjoy the well-crafted interior layout that’s almost as gorgeous as the exterior with piano black trim, chrome accents including a large area around the shifter, and beautifully executed climate control knobs. Steering wheel controls are also encased in chrome trim.

The optional black leather trimmed seats with red inserts are a visual knockout especially with the top down. Unfortunately there are still many areas of hard GM plastic in the cabin, but the overall appearance is one of quality and substance.

From behind the wheel, the front end stretches out in front of you. That’s the sports car look we like as opposed to many cars where all visages of a sloping hood are absent. The Sky view from the driver’s seat reminds us of a small Corvette.

And a tight, taut body mostly devoid of cowl shake is also Corvette inspired. The Sky uses the same hydro-formed longitudinal rail design as the Chevrolet creating stiff underpinnings making for a taut ride and terrific handling.

The Sky has a true roadster feel with GM’s 2.4-liter dual-overhead cam inline 4-cylinder Ecotec engine under the hood. It makes 177 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and if you keep it percolating you can wring out satisfying performance.

With some well-timed shifting, the Sky can finish off a 0 to 60 run in just a tick over 7 seconds and complete a quarter mile in about 16 seconds at 88 miles per hour. It isn’t the fastest car in the world, but you do look good getting there.

Although not the slickest in the business, the 5-speed manual shifter —a five-speed automatic is available — has relatively short throws with an appropriately sporty feel. Clutch action is right on target for around-town cruising.

Once out on the back road twists and turns, the Sky is a cornering beast. The large 18-inch wheels, a long wheelbase stretched to the corners and a well-tuned sports suspension give the rear-driven roadster a stick-to-the-road demeanor.

We experienced the Sky’s road-holding attributes in the mountains where we managed to keep up with a Corvette through the twists and turns. Only when the road straightened out a bit did the ‘Vette gain the upper hand.

If you love the Sky’s look but wish for more performance your patience will be rewarded. The Sky Red Line is slated for introduction in short order with a 260-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. We have a feeling that this well-built roadster will take on a whole new and attractive personality with the extra 83 horses under hood.

Top down driving brings out the best in the Sky, but most drive time comes with the top up. And the standard insulated liner, not available on the Solstice, is a welcome addition because of its ability to cut down wind noise.

Storage has never been a strong suit of roadsters, and the Saturn lives up to the tradition. The trunk is small and gets much smaller when the top is down. When traveling, you will have to limit yourself to a couple of overnight bags.

Storage inside is also lacking. A small storage bin between the seats will hold a few CDs or other small objects. Nets on the seats are OK for storing a cell phone, but are not handy.

The Sky lists for about $3,000 more than the Solstice, but comes with more standard equipment including projector headlights, keyless entry, power windows and locks, cruise control, a driver information center and the OnStar system.

Our test car came with a few inexpensive options such as the premium package for $750, upgraded audio system for $590 and XM Satellite radio for $325. The premium package includes leather-trimmed seats and leather wrapped steering wheel and steering wheel audio controls. The bottom line including destination charge was $25,355.

We’ve heard the Sky is bringing over sticker price in some areas. If you urgently need a set of wheels to attract attention, then it might be worth making a deal even at an elevated price. Remember this is a chick magnet no matter if they’re looking or driving. In this case the Sky’s the limit.


Base price: $23,690; as driven: $25,355

Annual cost to insure: $1,675

Engine: 2.4-liter, four-cylinder

Horsepower: 177 @ 6,600 rpm

Torque: 166 pound-feet @4,800 rpm

Transmission: 5-speed manual

Drive: rear wheel

Seating: 2

Turning circle: 36 feet

Trunk space: 3.8 cubic feet

Wheelbase: 109.3 inches

Length: 191.1 inches

Curb weight: 2,940 pounds

EPA mileage: 28 mpg highway, 20 city

0-60 mph: 7.3 seconds (Motor Trend)

Also consider: Mazda MX-5, Pontiac Solstice

The Good:

• One of the best looking cars sold in America
• Holds the road like it has glue on the tires • Affordable base price

The Bad:

• Interior may have been designed by a team of monkeys. Reaching the drink holder and the window switches is nearly impossible for the dexterity-challenged.
• Putting the top down can be a messy business.

The Ugly:

• Popularity in short supply drives price.