Latest Industry News

Saturn Sky Red Line – Corvette Light or Extra-Strength Miata?


Having me review a 2 seat open top roadster is like having Ed Begley talk about the virtues of an electric vehicle. Objectivity may be a stretch. I’m already a choir member. I just have too many fond memories of riding with my big brother in his Datsun 1600. Cars were invented to have their roofs removed, and their gears selected by the driver. It’s no surprise that I like this vehicle. A lot.
The Look
Talk about a head turner. This vehicle got more attention than grenade in a wedding cake. I probably didn’t hurt that our vehicle was bright red, but I think this vehicle would draw a crowd in any color. I answered more questions from strangers than any other vehicle in recent memory. From geriatrics to kids on skateboards, I received nothing but rave reviews on its exterior styling. My favorite? “It’s a Saturn? But it’s so pretty?”
At first, several of us at AutoPacific were critical of the Saturn Sky. Without driving it, we could critique the substandard interior materials and the truly abysmal cupholder, the lack of storage and on-the-ground sitting position. Appreciating the Sky Red Line is to drive it… hard. Luckily, part ot my commute is through a canyon with dramatic climbs, dips, variously aggressive curves, little traffic even at rush hour. This is where the car really comes into its own. The 260-horsepower provides punch whenever you want it and the wide track shod with sticky tires kept the Sky where you planted it.
On the other hand, Sky’s styling goes into the toilet when the convertible top is up. Also, with the top up, the car is almost impossible to get into or out of. For those of us who are a bit width challenged, a couple of more inches of shoulder room would be nice. But even with these niggling complaints, why doesn’t Sky sell better. Is its success, or lack of success, proof that the market for small 2-seaters is really saturated when Miata, Solstice and Sky are all available at under $25,000.

The Top
The top requires a bit of practice to work with. Not immediately a one-hand operation like the Miata. When up, it fits like OJ’s glove, with two flying buttresses over the rear deck-lid that have the look of a kit car. I can’t comment on the insulation of the top, as it was perfect weather during my test. Wind noise is about what you would expect in a car like this. It could use a clear wind baffle, which would also help reduce the considerable amount of condensation that blew onto the center console from the rear cowl after a night out on the town.
The Interior
While the Sky has a notably nicer interior look than its sister, the Pontiac Solstice, the poor quality of the plastic stands out on closer inspection. The dash looks nice until you touch it. Then it makes you ask how much the car costs. The instruments are easy to ready and laid out well. No training is required for the HVAC. I’m a real fan of GM’s new radio. It takes almost no learning to understand.


Storage is nil. No door pockets. A glove box that is one-half the size of its door. Three cup-holders that must have been imported from Germany, as they are almost useless. Two of the three are shoulder-high between the seats.
The Drive
My wife immediately called it crude, and she’s right. From a refinement standpoint It reminded us both of her Datsun 260Z. It feels a lot less refined than a Miata; more like a Corvette for the weak of heart. The car shakes more than a Miata and the transmission is clunky, at best. Many of our staffers noticed a loud rattle when launching the vehicle from a stop, or in parking lots. The sound is pretty embarrassing.
But mash down the pedal and you start to forget about the Miata’s refinement. Your can feel the 260 horses in your lower back. Turn off the traction control and you’d swear there were at least 2 more cylinders under the hood. “This is a Saturn?” “How am I going to tell my friends that I drive a Saturn?”


Sky Red Line Engine 2.0L Turbocharged 4-cylinder
Standard Transmission 5 Speed Manual
Horsepower 260@5300 RPM
Torque 260@2500 (foot/lbs) @ RPM


  • R. Ashton| March 27, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    I just rented one and I loved it. It handles great and has a super small turning circle, like a sports car should.The trunk is large for a 157 inch long car, when you have the top up. But when you lower the top it takes up 80% of the trunk. So, on a road trip with 2 people, you can’t really carry much, unless you have the top up the whole trip, and then what’s the point of having a roadster? I know many small roadsters have the same problem, tho.
    The convertible top can be a nightmare to latch fully up. Most of the time it was fine, but once in a while it just wouldn’t latch, even tho I used the exact same trick that had worked many times before, The owners manual does not explain the trick. Annoying, in fact its the worst thing about the car. The idiot at the rental car company asked what did you do to it? I said GM designed it, ask them. Luckily the other people at Avis had a brain, and knew I babied the car.
    The top was very waterproof when latched. There is no glass wind blocker that would pops up behind your head to block turbulence, but on the other hand it doesn’t cost $50,000 either.
    The car is so beautiful with the top down that I had a tourist take a photo of the car with me in it. And this was Miami Beach, where you see new Rolls Royces and Lamborghinis every 15 minutes. If you want attention and to impress women, you should consider the Saturn Sky/ Pontiac Solstice. People love the look so much they let me in in traffic all the time, Miamians are often rude and refuse to let a fellow driver in front of them. But not with this car.
    Except for the convertible top, I would buy this car. I heard they are building a fastback soon. True?

  • anthony| June 6, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    Convertible Saturn Sky is really comfortable and easy to drive with cool parts like of Saturn mirror. Love the performance. Perfect fit for my lifestyle, coz i’m always on road trip. This is fun to drive with.

  • David Barrett| March 17, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    While I too enjoy convertible cars, I must say, I found the Saturn Sky Redline to be crude, rude, and very attractive. It should be noted right up front that GM should be congratulated for having the minerals to build this car (Pontiac and Saturn versions) in the first place.
    To cut to the chase, it’s a good first attempt, but needs some refinement, because all of the basic elements are in place. It has a great sounding motor, it’s not an automatic by default, and its overall proportions are just about right.
    When you drive this car, you sit low – as you should. The position of your hands on the steering wheel is good and the reach to the gear-shift lever is ideal. And, as Dan Hall noted, GM has done a terrific job with their new in-dash radio/XM/CD system. It’s one of my favorites, without a doubt.
    Still, this car is not a joy to drive. It’s fun, but so is an amusement park. One of the problems with driving a car every day is that you become more familiar with its strengths and weaknesses – just like you do with your family members and friends! In this case, the relationship ends in divorce court. The Saturn Sky Redline just doesn’t deliver in areas where it should.
    Dan was on the money with regard to the top up scenario. Yuk. I disagree with Dan on the driving experience. The car feels better at speed, no doubt, but it’s unpolished and even for $30,000, that doesn’t add up. It has too much push (under steer), has too much lateral movement over expansion joints on the highway, and requires too much brake effort when you’re in a hurry to put the binders on. Add in the cheap interior (check out the totally lame-ass cup holder!), fair seats, mushy gearbox and it isn’t a car I’d want to drive every day, or every weekend. If I was 18 and needed a date and couldn’t afford a Corvette, this might be the choice ride. But I’m over 40, so perhaps I’m just out of the game.
    For my money, I’d prefer the Miata. It’s not macho on the outside, but it’s so much fun to drive that you can’t help but smile mile after mile. Better still, for this kind of money, put me in a V8 Mustang convertible. Both offer better overall value. Still, if GM could spend $800 on tweaks and improvements here and there – I’d reconsider my youth and give it a second chance.
    So, what you mean is that the Saturn Sky has a glorious absence of sophistication?

Back to top