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http://subscribers.wardsauto.com/ar/sky_blends_exotic/

Saturn Sky Blends Exotic Looks With Attainability
By Drew Winter
WardsAuto.com, May 10, 2006 11:24 AM

HEALDSBURG, CA – A decidedly affluent middle-aged couple smiles at a journalist in the hotel elevator when they notice the picture of a Saturn Sky on his name badge.
“That’s a great-looking car, especially for the price,” they say in unison, after apparently ogling the General Motors Corp. test cars lined up in the parking lot. Not a bad response, considering they are in the heart of California wine country, not exactly a hotbed for Detroit loyalists.
Great looks coupled with attainability sum up the formula for the new Saturn Sky roadster. It has its shortcomings. An engine that can’t overcome econobox roots and no side airbags are two, but the car’s striking exterior lines, nicely executed bespoke interior and a well-equipped base price of only $23,690 speaks loudly to any Baby Boomer looking to add some spice to their garage.
The car is everything Saturn and parent GM needs it be: a sexy, affordable “gotta have” vehicle that demonstrates GM still knows how to make cars people lust after.

Saturn Sky shares architecture with Pontiac Solstice, but no body panels.
Like its corporate sibling, the Pontiac Solstice, the Sky is sold out for the rest of the calendar year, even though it just started trickling into showrooms in April.
The downside is the Sky, like the Solstice, will be sold in such small numbers its success will have little impact on GM’s battered bottom line.
Saturn officials won’t reveal production numbers or sales targets, but Ward’s forecasts 2006 production of 15,624 units for the Sky, 22,837 for the Solstice and 3,629 for the Opel GT (based on the Sky) for total output of 42,090 at the Wilmington, DE plant.
But volume isn’t what the Sky is about, says Saturn General Manager Jill Lajdziak.
It’s about signaling the division’s metamorphosis from a withering, product-starved division to a powerful brand with an array of new and very different products influenced by GM’s Europe-based Adam Opel AG unit, she says.
In addition to the Sky, Saturn this year will introduce a mild hybrid version of its Vue cross/utility vehicle, a new Aura midsize sedan, a 260-hp high-performance Sky and an 8-passenger CUV called the Outlook. A mild hybrid version of the Aura also is on the way. Full hybrid-electric versions of several Saturn models are likely in the not too distant future.

Sky looks interesting from all angles.
“Revitalization isn’t just about a doubling of our product portfolio, it’s about giving Saturn a new face,” Lajdziak says.
A low-volume roadster that turns heads and creates buzz can do a far better job of giving Saturn that new image than a big-budget ad campaign, Lajdziak tells Ward’s, sitting in the passenger seat through miles of twisting 2-lane roads on a brilliantly sunny day in early May.
Considering the test cars cause heads to spin wherever they go, she’s probably right.
The Sky’s dramatic lines are inspired by the Vauxhall VX Lightning concept created in 2003 at GM’s advanced design studio in Birmingham, U.K.
Even though the Sky shares its engine and most key components with its Pontiac-badged sibling, there is no mistaking the two. Saturn officials say each car has its own distinct personality, and little cross shopping is expected.
Like the Solstice, GM used a sheet metal hydroforming process to dramatically shape key body panels. But instead of the Solstice’s flowing curves, the Sky’s sheet metal is creased and bent to create more “masculine” lines.
Even more surprising for such a low-volume GM vehicle, the Sky has a uniquely styled interior with its own instrument panel.
The roadster originally was scheduled to incorporate the Solstice IP, but designers quickly saw the flowing “organic” lines didn’t fit with the Sky’s sharp exterior edges.

Interior is exclusive, not shared with Solstice.
After a 1-day meeting, Global Product Development Chief Bob Lutz agreed to a costly interior redesign. That turned out to be one of the car’s defining moments, says Vehicle Line Director Darren Post.
The effort was worth it. The Sky interior has a far more sophisticated look and feel than the Solstice and helps justify the $3,000-plus cost difference between the two. To be fair, the Sky also comes with more standard features than the Pontiac, such as air conditioning, antilock brakes and a 6-CD stereo.
It also shows GM has come a long way from its infamous cookie-cutter badge designs.
On the road, the car has excellent highway manners, always well planted with a strong on-center steering feel. It soaks up bumps and pavement irregularities like a much larger car. The interior is roomy, and the seats are comfortable enough to make this a long-distance cruiser.
Suspension travel was increased to deliver a more compliant ride than in the Solstice, but it does plenty well on twisty roads, with very little body roll.
Weighing in at 2,933 lbs. (1,330 kg), the Sky is larger in almost every dimension than the Mazda MX-5, and 400 lbs. (182 kg) heavier, making it less nimble.
But the lighter handling of the MX-5 is swapped for a solid, more substantial feel that many buyers likely will find a good tradeoff.
On the negative side of the ledger, side airbags are not available, even though they are standard on the MX-5. Storage space also is minimal. The fuel tank intrudes far up into the trunk space and with the top down, hidden under the decklid, there is barely enough room for two overnight bags.
Vehicle line director Post argues that making the trunk roomier would have required lengthening the car by several inches and violating the original design intent. He also insists one small bag of golf clubs can be fitted into the trunk.
But he adds that most owners will have other vehicles in their garage for when more luggage space is needed.
The roadster’s most disappointing aspect is its engine, the same 2.4L 177-hp 4-cyl. Ecotec mill that powers the Solstice. It has 162 lb. ft. (220 Nm) of torque @ 4,800 rpm and delivers 60 mph (97 km/h) in a very respectable 7.2 seconds with a 5-speed manual (a 5-speed automatic is optional), but it is sluggish, revs slowly to the red line and lacks a premium tenor.
Engineers tuned the intake and exhaust noise to provide a more refined sound. It is an improvement over the thrashy economy car note of the Solstice and sounds very business-like under full throttle.

But the refinement disappears at low engine speeds and during idle, and reminds that this otherwise glorious chariot was engineered to be very affordable.
The MX-5’s 170-hp, 2L DOHC 4-cyl. sounds better than the Ecotec throughout the rev range, but if the MX-5 wins over Sky buyers, it will be because of its lighter weight and better maneuverability, not its superior exhaust note.
The Sky’s other roadster competitor, the Honda S2000, is priced about $10,000 higher. It has a 2.2L engine that churns out an impressive 240 hp at 7,800 rpm, but it is so raucous it gives drivers headaches.
In this context, the Ecotec’s underachievement is a pardonable sin.
And if you think not, a turbocharged direct-injection 2L DOHC Ecotec with 260 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque (353 Nm) at 2,500 rpm will be available on the Sky Redline in the fall.
 

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They might want to re-think the "attainablility" part of that title :willy:
 

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SKY SCRPR said:
They might want to re-think the "attainablility" part of that title :willy:
I think they mean the price, not that you can find one LOL
 

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SkyMan 07 said:
I think they mean the price, not that you can find one LOL
You're right, but it doesn't matter if if they are $500 or $50,000 if you can't get one. I just wish some of these articles would speak to the painful process of purchasing one of these at this time. I stopped by another dealer a week ago and pretended to know nothing about the sky. They made me feel like I could have one right away. Then you're hooked and then you wait. Like me :banghead:
 

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SKY SCRPR said:
You're right, but it doesn't matter if if they are $500 or $50,000 if you can't get one. I just wish some of these articles would speak to the painful process of purchasing one of these at this time. I stopped by another dealer a week ago and pretended to know nothing about the sky. They made me feel like I could have one right away. Then you're hooked and then you wait. Like me :banghead:
Well if you can find a dealer that has still got cars coming in and has no waiting list but are selling on a first come first served basis as the cars arrive then they are attainable... (There are many dealers doing this)
Mainly the reason they don't speak of that fact is that they have no knowlege of the fact most dealers have waiting list and all their allocation has already been spoken for until 2007...
 

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SkyMan 07 said:
Well if you can find a dealer that has still got cars coming in and has no waiting list but are selling on a first come first served basis as the cars arrive then they are attainable... (There are many dealers doing this)
Mainly the reason they don't speak of that fact is that they have no knowlege of the fact most dealers have waiting list and all their allocation has already been spoken for until 2007...
Yeah, I guess those are the dealers that are getting 2-5K over MSRP. Everything still working well on your car? I would guess that you are the "senior sky driver" still posting. Are you still as happy with the car as you were under 500 miles?
 

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SKY SCRPR said:
Yeah, I guess those are the dealers that are getting 2-5K over MSRP. Everything still working well on your car? I would guess that you are the "senior sky driver" still posting. Are you still as happy with the car as you were under 500 miles?
very happy with the car, I have had a few issues I have posted about on here but other than that nothing major...
Every day I get compliments on the car, but a funny thing happened yesterday drving home from work, I had the top down and it on cruise control doing about 73, and I passed a new Porshe Boxster that had the top down, well as I went by and merged back in in front of them, all of a sudden they went wooshing by wide open with their snobbish noses in the air... I wish a bumble bee had flown up their nose...
 

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Porsche Boxter

SkyMan 07 said:
very happy with the car...... I passed a new Porshe Boxster that had the top down, well as I went by and merged back in in front of them, all of a sudden they went wooshing by wide open with their snobbish noses in the air... I wish a bumble bee had flown up their nose...
:agree:

That's one reason.
The car itself I think is technical much better in long period quality but you also have to see it's double of the price and maintenance is a "little" expensive even here in Germany.
The Sky RL / Opel GT are in the same region of power (between the Boxter an the Boxter S) but with the 4 cyl. engine a little better in fuel economy.

Best wishes to your wife and tell her never to give up, thats one of the best medicines. I think I know how your wife feels, I have a little lung cancer myself.
But I have to hold on because it shurely takes a year before the first GT's are available in Germany.
 
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