2007 Saturn Sky Red Line

May 10, 2007
I have to admit I felt guilty when I handed the Sky Red Line's keys back to the press-fleet driver.

The convertible's beautiful Midnight Blue exterior was completely covered in road grime. I had taken it into Colorado's high country on the first sunny, snowfall-free weekend we'd seen in over a month. It didn't matter that the wind chill was hovering in the low teens, nor that I'd be driving against 30-mph wind gusts, I was determined to take that baby out with the top down. And it was just what the doctor ordered for beating my midwinter blues.

With the heater on and my silk scarf trailing behind I felt like a million bucks behind the wheel of this striking, yet affordable (base price about $27K) roadster. A team of designers at GM's studios in Warren, Mich., were inspired by the Vauxhaull Lighting Concept built by GM's Advanced Design Studio in England (vauxhall.co.uk).

The Red Line is equipped with GM's first direct-injection engine in the U.S. The 2-liter powerplant unleashes 260 hp at 5,300 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque from 2,500 to 5,200 rpm. Direct injection helps the Ecotec engine produce more power while earning an EPA rating of 22/30 mpg.

On my sojourn into the mountains, the curvy roads covered with loose gravel, potholes, and icy patches put the roadster's handling to task. Thankfully, the Red Line is outfitted with StabiliTrack electronic-stability control that kicked in when I took some gravel-strewn corners too aggressively. Other key elements that improve handling are a strong, rigid chassis made from a hydroformed tube structure and power rack-and-pinion hydraulic steering. The Red Line's also outfitted with a short-long-arm suspension setup with forged aluminum control arms, Bilstein monotube shocks, and hollow 33.3-mm front (25.4-mm rear) stabilizer bars with ball socket joints. The result is that it handles high lateral accelerations with minimum body roll.

On the down side, owners will have to pack lightly (extremely lightly) when they take the Sky on a weekend trip. Even with the hood up, the trunk leaves little room for more than a duffel bag. Seat adjustments are limited to forward and back, so my below average stature forced me into tippy-toeing clutch engagements. This resulted in a few more stalling episodes than I'd like to admit. I assume average-sized drivers won't have the same complaint.

Added amenities on our tester included AM/FM radio with CD/MP3 and Monsoon premium audio ($590), chrome-plated aluminum wheels ($545), leather seat inserts ($475), XM Satellite radio ($199), and a $600 destination charge that boosted the list price to $29,704.

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