Saturn Just May Have a Winner
At the 2006 New York auto show, Saturn unveiled its upcoming all-new mid-size sedan and one-third of the 2007 product revitalization. Though the Sky will improve Saturn’s image as a fun-car company, Aura’s job is to bring refinement and style to the brand. In large part, Saturn appears to have succeeded. Though we can’t be sure until we’ve driven it and seen regular production models, VehicleVoice and AutoPacific correspondents are impressed so far. By fall 2006, customers will be able to weigh in on the issue in the only way that really matters: with their pocketbooks.
Saturn is poised to start providing products that people want for the product as well as for the terrific dealer experience the products come with. Three all-new products arrive for 2007, in the Outlook SUV, Sky roadster, and Aura sedan. All show promise of being nice products to own and drive. Leveraging GM’s ownership of Opel in Europe has helped Saturn get a new design language quickly and cost-effectively, a design language that has potential for the kind of image improvements the brand needs and is distinct from American siblings Pontiac and Chevrolet.
According to GM executives around the introduction of the Aura concept, Saturn is being groomed to compete against the likes of Volkswagen and Honda, while Chevrolet takes on Toyota and Pontiac takes on Mazda. The new Saturns are to be refined, sporty, and stylish. While Sky is a no-brainer for delivering on these attributes, Aura may also capture them. The new Saturns, at least on paper and on static displays, are competitive for this market, not just an improvement over Saturn’s past product misses.
As all GM products are related, the Aura is related to the Chevrolet Malibu and Pontiac G6, and all are derivatives of the Epsilon-based Opel Vectra Signum. With the introduction of new models, Saturn is also revising its trim-level naming structure. Two versions of the Aura will be offered, standard XE and uplevel XR (also true of the Outlook).