Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book
KBB.com 2009 Saturn SKY Overview
Ever since the brand's introduction in 1990, the easy-to-purchase Saturns have been known mainly as sensible cars for small families and modest budgets. That's all changed dramatically with the debut of the SKY roadster and, especially, its recently-introduced turbocharged Red Line offshoot. Only in small details does it differ mechanically from the Pontiac Solstice, and the rear-wheel-drive two-passenger 2009 Saturn SKY – particularly in Red Line guise – sends Saturn and its potential customers into a new and unexpected automotive realm.
If you demand responsive, high-limit handling, the 2008 Saturn SKY Red Line delivers it. It corners with precision, is remarkably flat through curves and exhibits outstanding composure. Turbocharged performance is another main attraction, though marred a bit by a slightly balky and vague manual gearbox and less-than-stirring engine response when in the upper gears.
If you prefer a sports car that steers with a lighter touch and delivers a refined ride even over rougher surfaces, the 2009 Saturn SKY Red Line might not fully satisfy. Ergonomics isn't the SKY's strong point either, though most likely buyers will overlook the tight entry/exit, reflective interior surfaces, limited over-the-shoulder visibility, minimal cargo space and somewhat unsatisfactory instrumentation.
Changes for 2009 are minor. Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity is now available, as are two new limited edition trims: Ruby Red and Hydro Blue.
Though it's no BMW in terms of refinement, the 2009 Saturn SKY Red Line experience is reminiscent of BMW's Z4. Relatively high steering effort translates to a heavy overall feel. This two-seater maneuvers effectively and hugs the road tenaciously. Although the engine delivers an impressive flow of power, if you're not in the optimum gear with a manual-shift model, don't expect startling response, and the exhaust sounds aren't especially inspiring. Sitting atop the console, the short gearshift lever is actually in good position for gear changes, though the clutch engages at a surprisingly low point on the pedal.
Can this really be a Saturn? Anyone who's turned away from prior Saturn products due to humdrum appearances is sure to be shocked by the first close look at the SKY – which looks even more voluptuous in Red Line form.
Turbocharged Direct-Injection Engine
Saturn deserves credit not only for giving this small-displacement engine abundant power, but for doing so without a sharp drop in gas mileage. In fact, the Red Line's turbo earns EPA fuel-economy estimates that beat the base-model's larger, but less-potent engine.
Squeezing into the SKY's cockpit may demand some twitchy contortions, but its seats are snugly satisfying – eager to keep you tautly in position through enthusiastic driving maneuvers. The Red Line-specific speedometer and tachometer are so deep-set that they're difficult for some eyes to read easily in the daytime, and things are not helped by the tiny gas gauge. No other conventional instruments are mounted on the dashboard, which relies instead on digital readouts for additional information, and the excessive chrome brightwork can result in distracting glare on sunny days. With the top down, space in the rear-hinged trunk shrinks from meager to nearly non-existent.
Among the shapeliest roadsters on the market, the SKY attracts attention even from the uninitiated – especially when painted brilliant Sunburst Yellow. Compared to the base model, the front end of the SKY Red Line flaunts several unique styling touches, including functional brake-cooling vents. A larger mesh pattern in the lower grille is intended to improve airflow toward the engine. Red Line headlamps differ, too, with black bezels instead of chrome. Flangeless, five-spoke polished aluminum-alloy wheels hold 18-inch tires. Putting the fabric top up or down isn't the easiest task.
Standard Red Line equipment includes a five-speed manual transmission, limited-slip differential, GM's StabiliTrak stability-control system and a performance-tuned suspension. Inside are a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and a digital turbo boost gauge. Dual polished aluminum exhaust outlets release the turbocharged engine's gases. Red Line models feature stainless steel pedal covers and metallic sill plates. The SKY roadster also has anti-lock braking (ABS), foglamps, OnStar, keyless remote entry and power windows/doors/mirrors. Due to limited trunk space, no spare tire is included.
For around $100, a five-speed automatic transmission can replace the standard five-speed manual gearbox, though for performance enthusiasts the stick-shift may deliver stronger results from the turbo engine. Additional options include a six-CD changer with Monsoon sound, leather-surfaced seat trim, chrome wheels and a rear spoiler.
In contrast to the base-model SKY's 173-horsepower engine, the SKY Red Line has a 260-horsepower, 2.0-liter Ecotec four-cylinder, driving a five-speed manual or optional five-speed automatic transmission. Direct-injection technology sends fuel directly into the combustion chambers of the turbocharged engine to produce greater power with less fuel consumption.
2.0-liter in-line 4 Turbocharged
260 horsepower @ 5300 rpm
260 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2500-5200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28 (manual), 19/27 (automatic)
In Red Line form the 2009 Saturn SKY roadster has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $32,000. That's about $4,000 more than the price of a base-model SKY. Be sure to click on New Car Blue Book Values to check what the 2009 Saturn SKY Red Line is currently selling for in your area. With the SKY Red Line, Saturn competes mainly against the Pontiac Solstice GXP, which uses the same powertrain but starts some $2,000 lower. Outside the GM stable, the SKY's only real rival is the long-lived but still popular, if less-powerful, Mazda MX-5 Miata. Most other competitors, such as the Audi TT, BMW Z4, Nissan 350Z and Honda S2000, are priced significantly higher. In terms of resale value, we predict that the SKY Red Line will perform reasonably well over time, although it will trail the perennial favorite, the MX-5.