Welcome to "What Happened To:" a series where we take a look at cars that seemed to have the potential, either in design or on paper, to be a great success. Whether it be uninspiring driving characteristic, price, or the badge on the hood we investigate "What Happened To: Saturn Sky".
Most of the featured vehicles will be based on my opinion of design, performance, and general reception by enthusiasts (including yours truly). This particular feature comes from a rare sighting: a Saturn Sky Redline. Before we get into the glory that was the Redline line, redundant I know, we must first address the underlying vehicle at hand.
The Solstice/Sky/Opel GT was based on the 2003 Vauxhall VX Lighting Concept (shown below) and oh was it beautiful. It oozed with style, hard lines and aggressive fascia made Cadillac's style seem restrained. Gigantic vents behind the front fender seemed to be plucked from the Viper that shares the same year model. Much of the styling was carried over to the Saturn Sky, unlike its ugly duckling, bulbous, dull, honeycomb wearing brother Pontiac's Solstice.
Why Did The Sky Fall?
I can understand how the base model lacked an enthusiastic reception. At 177 bhp the 2.4L four-cylinder inspired little to no confidence with a 0-60 time of 7.3 seconds. While 7.3 seconds is not too shabby, the fact that you bought a two-door roadster to satisfy your mid-life crisis and some punk kid in a Honda Civic is keeping up really "grinds your gears".
So what did Saturn do? They added the Sky to their growing Redline stable. But I thought Redline was just a way to make more Vues and Ions? Wrong! Redline was here to save the Sky from getting lost in the Land Of Misfit Base Model Roadsters™ (I'm looking at you Audi TT 1.8).
How To Make A Redline In The Sky
You give your sub 3000-lb roadster a turbocharger, that's how! We will make the engine smaller at 2.0L but make up for it with 260hp! Sounds like a great recipe on paper but turns out the 2.0L ECOtec was a dog of an engine for 2007. With an improved 0-60 time of 5.3 seconds and better suspension it seemed that Saturn was on the track it should have been while in the development stages. Reviewers and owners alike came to a consensus that in the upper RPM ranges the engine seemed to fall flat on its face.
GM To The Rescue
In 2008 GM released a Turbo Upgrade for the 2.0L engine that was found in the Redline Sky. Finally the engine came to life with power at 290hp and the much needed 340 lb·ft of torque. Stomp the gas and you will start to sink into the race-inspired seats. Toss the Franz von Holzhausen designed roadster into the twistiest and the power will pull you right through the apex. Let the wind blow through your hair as you blast Bon Jovi's "Living on a prayer". Then you realize its gone... Its all gone.
What Really Killed The Sky
GM did. One short phrase says it all "GM killed the Sky". GM killed the Saturn brand. Was it a Cain and Able story? Did Pontiac feel jealous of Saturn and seek out revenge? No. GM killed both Saturn and Pontiac in what seems like a drunken night of rage GM offed two of the brands with the most potential. Saturn was on the right track making cars like the Aura and jumping into the crossover game with the redesigned Vue. It was too little too late as some might say. What happened to the Saturn Sky? GM happened.