January 30, 2007 > Saturn Sky Red Line
Saturn Sky Red Line
The Saturn Sky shares most of its structural, mechanical, and body components with two other General Motors stable mates: the Pontiac Solstice in the USA and the Opel GT sold in Europe. I think the Sky is the best looking of these two-seat, convertible sports cars. The styling is bold, edgy, and aggressive. The Sky really turns heads as you drive by. I think it is attractive with the top up or down.
The term "Red Line" shows that this Sky is very different than the base model. The Red Line version gets the 2-liter motor with an intercooled turbocharger. The base Sky gets a 2.4-liter, normally aspirated mill that puts out 177 HP and 166 foot pounds of torque. The Red Line puts out 260 HP and 260 foot-pounds of torque at a 19-psi boost pressure. This turbocharged motor is General Motor's highest specific output engine ever made at 2.1 HP per cubic inch of the engine's displacement.
This means the Red Line gets a significant boost in performance levels. The Red Line's zero to 60 MPH time is 5.5 seconds compared to 7.4 for the normally aspirated engine. The Red Line's EPA mileage numbers are good at 21 city and 29 highway for the automatic (22 and 31 for the 5-speed manual).
The Sky Red Line's motor had very little turbo lag. In some turbo-charged cars, it takes what seems to be a long time for the blower to start to do its job. In those cars you need to kick the throttle down to the floor long before you want the power to actually come on; hard to drive because you can get the power blast before you really want it. The Red Line is not in that class because its power comes on quickly and smoothly as soon as you ask for it.
A friend called the Sky Red Line a mini-Corvette, and I would agree with that description. The driving positions in both cars feel similar; you sit down low and look out over a long, wide hood. The two front corners on both cars are defined by upturns on the fenders. Both cars have a heavy feel but handle and accelerate well.
The Sky has a convertible top that is manually folded down into the trunk or pulled up. This may not be as nice as a power driven one, but the top goes up and down without much effort. With the top folded, the storage space in the trunk is just about zero. If you are planning a trip with the top down, you need to pack very lightly.
The Sky does not have a spare tire or jack. There is a pressurized can of tire sealant and a small air compressor in the trunk. I would feel more comfortable with a spare on board, but this single issue would not stop me from purchasing the car.
I like the way the Sky Red Line drives. It has a lot of road feel, very responsive and a nice, crisp turn-in that holds tight curves well although it didn't handle bumpy turns as well as some other cars I have driven. However, the Sky/Solstice is a good sports car proven when it won this year's Sports Car Club of America's national championship in the Showroom Stock B class.
The base Sky lists for $25,325 with the Red Line starting at $27,295 and well worth the extra $2K. Our Red Line had the 5-speed automatic transmission that added $850 to the price. Around town I used the "Intermediate" setting, and the Sky was always quick to respond.
By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists