2008 Saturn Sky Redline new car reviews

Better than: a Sky with no turbocharger
But not as good as: a Sky with a turbocharger and a clutch pedal.
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 81.70

For a car that’s only been in production a few years, the Saturn Sky (and its kissing cousin the Solstice) has infiltrated the sports car market with surprising efficiency. A market that was once all but sewn up by Mazda has been cut open again by The General’s duo of entry-level roadsters. Not only that, but Sky and Solstice are also available with a direct-injection turbocharged motor that pushes 260 horsepower, more than any factory Miata can claim.

Our test car came with the 260 horsepower engine and optional five-speed automatic transmission. We generally prefer to do the shifting ourselves, particularly with a sporting car like this. Still, we couldn’t help but notice that the automatic snapped off its shifts quickly and smoothly, leaving very little for us to complain about other than the fact that we couldn’t choose our own gears. We were surprised, but not disappointed, to find that the automatic didn’t feature some sort of paddle shifting feature. (More and more cars have them lately, but few are any good.) The engine felt very strong, sounding off with all of the compulsory turbo pops and whistles as we got into the boost. Power delivery was smooth and linear, which might make this combination a good choice if you’re going bracket racing at your local dragstrip.

Ergonomics drew less praise. The convertible top in particular was a big disappointment: More than one tester ended up taking an extra five or 10 minutes trying to completely stow the top under the boot, only to give up and drive with the warning bell reminding them of their failure. Criticism was also leveled at the poor steering feel, awkward controls and lack of storage.

Other staff views

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

If the Miata, S2000 and Boxster can all have some sort of carrying room with the top down, then there's no excuse for the Solstice and Sky's setup. It is just about impossible to go away for a weekend with this car. Even with the top up, storage space is a joke. A few other issues: The dash on our car buzzed, the window switches are inconveniently located, visibility out of the side-view mirrors is challenging, and the top creates huge blind spots. For what it's worth, I do like the looks of the car. I only wish it was as nice to drive.

Tom Heath Tom Heath
UberDork

The engine in the Sky is so willing to play, it's a shame we didn't get to sample it with a proper transmission. While the traction limits were pretty high, I didn't get enough feedback through the steering wheel to let me know how much grip was left. If there had never been a Miata, this car would have been a much more attractive option, because I think it fares pretty well in the cost/fun ratio against a Z4 or Boxster.

Driving this car makes the new Cobalt SS more intriguing as well. With the same engine in a 4-seat package for less money, I think I'd find a way to forgive its unrefined nature.

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Comments
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Tom Heath
Tom Heath UberDork
6/14/08 2:05 p.m.

I think part of the "huge" feel comes from the Car's wicked high beltline. I'm excited to see this car in Coupe form; it isn't too late to apply some engineering tweaks and end up with a real winner.

confuZion3
confuZion3 UltraDork
6/29/08 10:27 a.m.

I've driven both the Sky and the Sky Red Line. Both were manuals. I was surprised at how much this car felt like a baby Corvette (although, you are spending less money, so you do get less car). It shares the torque tube design, a stiff chassis, the corporate steering wheel; and the brakes have a similar feel as well.

This was the first car that I have driven that has a turbo charger, makes lots of boost pressure, and yet has almost no lag. It's fun to watch the little digital boost gauge go from vacuum to 19 psi in such a hurry - that is, if you can keep your eyes on it.

I disagree with many people who believe this car has a finicky top. Sure, you can approach a BMW Z4 and put the top and windows down from 50 feet away with your key. If you consider that the standard, then this thing is downright primative (I think a roadster should be all about the basics). But popping the huge trunk, unlocking one latch, and feeding the thing into the trunk really isn't that difficult. One push on the center of the top, once it's folded, ensures that it is completely stowed and that the trunk will close.

I'll take my Sky Red Line in black with red leather, please. No, wait. I'll take two.

Tom Heath
Tom Heath UberDork
12/10/13 12:00 a.m.

For a car that’s only been in production a few years, the Saturn Sky (and its kissing cousin the Solstice) has infiltrated the sports car market with surprising efficiency. A market that was once all but sewn up by Mazda has been cut open again by The General’s duo of entry-level roadsters. Not only that, but Sky and Solstice are also available with a direct-injection turbocharged motor that pushes 260 horsepower, more than any factory Miata can claim.

Our test car came with the 260 horsepower engine and optional five-speed automatic transmission. We generally prefer to do the shifting ourselves, particularly with a sporting car like this. Still, we couldn’t help but notice that the automatic snapped off its shifts quickly and smoothly, leaving very little for us to complain about other than the fact that we couldn’t choose our own gears. We were surprised, but not disappointed, to find that the automatic didn’t feature some sort of paddle shifting feature. (More and more cars have them lately, but few are any good.) The engine felt very strong, sounding off with all of the compulsory turbo pops and whistles as we got into the boost. Power delivery was smooth and linear, which might make this combination a good choice if you’re going bracket racing at your local dragstrip.

Ergonomics drew less praise. The convertible top in particular was a big disappointment: More than one tester ended up taking an extra five or 10 minutes trying to completely stow the top under the boot, only to give up and drive with the warning bell reminding them of their failure. Criticism was also leveled at the poor steering feel, awkward controls and lack of storage.

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