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By Rick Popely
December 1, 1999
Vehicle Overview Saturn's coupe returns with its unique three-door configuration and several interior revisions. The coupe comes in SC1 and SC2 models and is now listed as part of the S-Series family that includes subcompact sedans and wagons. Saturn's new midsize sedan and wagon are called the L Series. While the S-Series sedan and wagon get new lower-body styling this fall, the coupe's facelift won't arrive until January, when the 2001 models are scheduled to debut.
Interior Rear-seat room is noticeably smaller in the coupe than the S-Series sedan, though Saturn's coupes have more space in back than some other sporty two-door cars. Among the interior changes this year are a new instrument cluster, center console, and audio and climate controls. The horn is now on the steering-wheel hub instead of the spokes, and cruise control buttons are on the hub instead of the spokes.
Exterior Saturn, which calls itself "a different kind of car company," lived up to that slogan last fall when it added a standard third door to the SC1 and SC2, an industry first. Called the rear-access door, it is on the driver's side and swings opens to the rear. The driver's door has to be opened first, and an integrated design makes it nearly unnoticeable when it is closed. Like other Saturns, the coupes use polymer lower body panels and steel for the hood, trunk and roof.
Under the Hood Saturn's coupe uses the same engines as other S-Series models. The SC1 has the 100-horsepower, single-camshaft 1.9-liter four-cylinder, and the SC2 uses the dual-camshaft version with 124 horsepower. Manual and automatic transmissions are available with both. Anti-lock brakes with traction control are optional on both models.
Performance Small coupes are impractical for many because their rear seats are too small or hard to get to. Saturn's rear-access door is a clever innovation that adds utility without compromising the styling.