NEWS

2007 Saturn Sky Redline: First Drive

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Saturn introduced the Sky roadster in March, and ever since it’s been moving off dealership lots faster than almost any model in the country. The stunner is an exercise in cost efficiency — it’s only $25,195, and offers a sporty feel — though it never delivers a true sports-car feel because of its anemic 177-hp engine. The Red Line version features a turbocharged version of the Sky’s four-cylinder engine, bumping power to 260 hp. Did it help?

Mike Hanley: I don’t think small-roadster enthusiasts will be disappointed in the Red Line. The regular Sky is an eye-catching roadster, and putting a turbocharged 260-hp engine under its hood finally fulfills the promise of its looks. The Red Line’s engine hits its stride at around 4,000 rpm and pulls strongly up to its redline. I just wish the redline were a little bit farther up the tach; it’s all too easy to hit the rev limiter when pushing the smooth-spinning four-cylinder. There are some clanking sounds in the driveline at parking lot speeds, but they disappear once you’re under way.

The suspension is firm, but it delivered a relatively compliant ride on the predominately rough roads I drove. There’s not much extra room in the cockpit, but it’s not overly snug for its class, either.

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Kelsey Mays: Mike and I lament the same phenomenon. The Red Line comes on right about where the regular Sky’s 2.4-liter engine calls it quits, but the turbo motor has less room to run; its redline is 6,300 rpm, versus the regular Sky’s 7,000 rpm. Still, winding out each gear in the Red Line offers fleeting moments of joy I’ll take any day over the Sky’s comparatively pedestrian experience.

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Handling and braking remain Sky-like — which is to say, very good — though 260 hp can get you into more trouble than the four-wheel-disc brakes can handle. Upgraded braking hardware would likely be a prudent investment for Red Line owners who plan to take their cars to the track.

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Sky Red Line on the left and the base model on the right.

David Thomas: This has how much horsepower? Besides some extra grunt I can’t really tell. The regular Sky feels noticeably underpowered when you slam your right foot down, while the Red Line launches with a lot more authority. But is it an extreme performer? Did it knock my socks off? Nah. It does take a corner with gusto, however, and only costs $28,895, but I was expecting more. Driving enthusiasts will definitely be disappointed, while the ordinary Joe might want the added power for only $4,000 over the base model. Oh, and like Mike mentioned, I managed an embarrassing clunk noise out of the transmission when trying to navigate the parking area.

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