The Saturn Sky is one of those cars that most commonly evokes the emotion “oh, yeah, I forgot about those” but should it? Should the Sky be condemned to the footnotes of history as “that weird offspring of a Cobalt and a Corvette” or is it destined for something greater? Will anyone give a shit? Should they? Even after driving one, I’m not sure.
The styling on this car is superb. This has aged better than nearly every other contemporary car in the mid-2000s. Once the all-too-common cateracts are resolved with new headlight housings the Sky manages to look amazingly fresh today with an angular coke-bottle design very evocative of the current generation C7 Corvette. The only thing that could date it is the lack of LED running lights somewhere on the car and the now-defunct Saturn badge.
The interior on the other hand is easily the weakest point of this car. In pictures it looks decent enough with attractive red accents, neat “SKY” embroidery, and a classy piano black center stack. In reality? A mixed bag. Mixed in the sense that the REALLY IMPORTANT things such as the pedalbox, shifter position, and steering wheel are absolutely excellent. Heel-toeing this car is effortless and intuitive. The shifter falls to hand very easily next to the steering wheel. Well done, GM. Everything else about the interior is straight bullshit, as far as ergonomics. Want to roll down the windows? Have fun contorting your left hand to reach the window switches. The only storage other than the glove box is between the seats, above the cupholders. Reaching either of these while driving is ill-advised at best. A third cupholder, naturally, is built into the center console on the passenger side and spends much of its life broken.
And then there’s the build quality. The door cards have a solid half inch of wiggle in/out. The door handles move about a quarter inch when you pull them to close the door as the whole thing goes ‘thunkatunkatunka’ when the door closes. The seats squeak INCESSANTLY against the interior panels they happen to rub up against. The shift knob rattles. It’s genuinely terrible and I’m not sure how one would fix it.
Speaking of ergonomic disasters, raising and lowering the canvas top is an absolute clusterfuck. GM made a cool looking top, but in the process created one of the most baffling song and dances imaginable. First, pop the trunk. When you do this the two buttress parts of the soft top spring up from the trunk. Note, every time you want to get into the trunk these two buttresses have to spring up out of the way first, and after closing the trunk you have to pop them both back into place.
Once the trunk is open the single latch in the middle of the soft top can be undone and the top thrown backwards into the trunk, where it uncomfortably binds on itself and goes about halfway down. Then you wiggle it and push on it until it tucks into the trunk, taking up the entire thing in the process, and you can SLAM the rear-hinged trunk down to complete the process. I can’t emphasize that enough, you have to stand behind the car, stick your hand in the center of the trunk, and Kobe that motherfucker home. No half-measures.
This is all done in the name of style, though. The Sky manages to be one of maybe two convertibles that looks equally great top up or top down.
But how does it drive?
Like a stock ND Miata, but a lot MORE. The Red Line in stock form has a 260hp 260lb-ft LNF direct-injected 2.0t mated to a 5 speed Aisin trans which makes 12-15PSI stock which comes on reasonably smooth with none of the fun lag you get with older style turbo cars, just a nice pull to redline. It’s enough to shove you back in your seat with 0-60 happening in the upper 5 second range and a quarter mile coming at 14 flat. The trans is fantastic. It’s very Honda in the sense that you can happily bang-shift the everloving hell out of it without feeling bad. It’ll take it. It’ll take it fine without crunching gears or feeling excessively notchy. Quick, smooth shifts between gears with very well laid out gates. A Very Good Transmission.
One thing the redline is lacking in is turbo noise. No fun BOV whoosh and very little turbo whistle just the engine note which is quite sporting but not amazing. This is a car that would become a whole different animal with some basic bolt-ons which I’m told are coming soon.
Handling? Shockingly vague. I got an overall mushy feel from the front end when trying to flick the car back and forth. Body roll is very minimal and the seating position being so close to the rear axle definitely gives you a feel of the car pivoting around you in corners.
The brakes were an unmitigated disaster since there was air in the lines. Need bled, then I’ll reevaluate.
The Sky is a toy. It is the Miata alternative for someone who slides the scale more towards acceleration vs handling, but not far enough that they’re into pony car territory. It’s less practical than a Corvette or even a Miata, while being not quite cheap enough vs a C5 to be worth it and too expensive over a Miata to make sense. To buy a Saturn Sky you have to want exactly what the Saturn Sky offers which is a tunable turbo engine, good looks, serviceable handling, room for a LOT of tire underneath, and not much else. I recommend having something more practical and comfortable in your stable as a daily if you buy one of these, such as a geo metro. Or a motorcycle.