2009 Saturn Sky Performance
This performance review was written when the 2009 Saturn Sky was new.
Auto writers generally agree that the SKY offers adequate power and handles well. While many find the Red Line sportier than the base, most concede that the SKY still can't match some of its competitors in terms of performance -- especially the MX-5 Miata.
- "While the suspension and brakes are willing performers, the unfortunate weak link in G.M.'s would-be sports car package is the engine -- it builds revs with all the alacrity of Katrina reconstruction." -- New York Times
- "Even though its suspension is slightly softer than that of its Pontiac Solstice sibling, the SKY still grips corners like a small, serious roadster should." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "The problem with this handsome vehicle is that it's what we might call 'sculpture:' all show and no go. In the segment, Mazda's Miata sets a high standard for performance. While the Sky is just as handsome as the Miata, it is not a lot of fun to operate." -- Forbes
Acceleration and Power
The 2009 Saturn SKY is equipped with a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder Ecotec engine that produces 173-horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 166 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. While Saturn describes the base engine as "torque-heavy," auto writers criticize its lack of power at low rpms. Despite reported turbo lag, test drivers prefer the Red Line trim's 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine -- which generates 260-horsepower at 5,300 rpm and 260 pound-feet of torque at 2,500 - 5,200 rpm. Both the base model SKY and the Red Line feature a standard five-speed manual transmission, but a five-speed automatic is available.
According to the EPA, the manual base trim has a city/highway fuel economy of 19/25 mpg. However, the automatic achieves 19/24 mpg. The Red Line earns similar figures for the manual and automatic - 19/28 mpg and 19/27 mpg, respectively.
- "The base engine is slow to rev and has little power reserve for quick highway passing. Still, its performance supports GM's 0-60-mph claim of about 7.2 seconds with either transmission. Turbocharged Red Lines are punchy at any speed, though with notable turbo lag. GM says it does 0-60 in 5.5 seconds or less, which seems credible." -- Consumer Guide
- "The engine is powerful enough, but it's slightly rough and quite loud, and not in a sporting way." -- Orlando Sentinel
- "[T]he Red Line gets a turbo that is good for 260-horses with 260-lb ft of torque at 2,500 rpm. That gets you from a standing start to 60 in what Saturn says is 5.5 seconds, and we would have no cause to quibble. Keep the little four on the boil, say about 3,000 rpm and up, and there will be plenty of smiles to the mile." --MarketWatch
- "Push the Sky toward its limits ... and it starts to show some weaknesses. This first comes through in the transmission, where our 5-speed manual (there is an optional 5-speed automatic available) stifles performance-minded desires with tricky gates, syrupy acceleration and a shifter that bobs and weaves like a prizefighter." -- Edmunds
- "I tested the five-speed manual, and the short gearshift is one of its better features. Beyond that, I experienced the same disappointments that I did in the Solstice. In some cars, a sixth gear is nice to have, but the Sky really needs it, in part because of the scarce torque at low revs." -- Cars.com
- "I took advantage of a lack of traffic to run her through the automatic gears to see what kind of grunt motivates her. It was more than adequate with a respectable 170-horsepower. It is, after all, meant to be a low-end sports car and it does a mighty fine job of that." -- The Auto Channel
Handling and Braking
Test drivers find that the SKY handles well -- though most prefer the Red Line trim for its sportier dynamics.
The Red Line mostly differs from the base model for its performance-tuned suspension system. The base SKY comes equipped with a four-wheel independent SLA suspension with coil-over Bilstein monotube shocks, and front and rear hollow stabilizer bars with ball-joint links. However, the Red Line features larger stabilizer bars, stiffer springs and shock tuning that's sport-specific. SKY Red Lines also come standard with StabiliTrak stability control and a limited slip differential.
- "Ride quality is pleasant and highway cruising is more relaxed than in the Miata. The base 2.4-liter Sky should be enough to appease the casual driver, but for those looking for any degree of excitement, the turbocharged Red Line is the only choice." -- Edmunds
- "Predictably agile and balanced with little cornering lean, good smooth-surface grip, and great steering feel and response. Fine straightline stability and crosswind resistance too. Red Line/GXP can hop and skip over large bumps but quickly regain composure." -- Consumer Guide
- "The steering is sharp, taut and full of subtle feedbacks from the asphalt. The cornering grip -- thanks mainly to the big Goodyears on the corners -- is reliable and easy to access. With its slightly nose-heavy weight distribution, the Sky can be coaxed into nice, progressive tail-sliding behavior that can be nulled out with a dab of throttle and counter steer." -- Los Angeles Times
- "The overall feel is neutral and predictable, with understeer checking in as the limits are neared." -- Motor Trend
- "Compared to the Solstice, we prefer the SKY's slightly softened suspension that delivers a noticeably smoother ride without giving much away in handling." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "While the Sky gets the edge in handling, the Solstice stopped considerably better, hauling down from 60 mph in 114 ft. compared with the Sky's 132 ft. Part of that might be because the better-equipped Sky tips the scales at 3155 lb., compared with the Solstice's test weight of 2980." -- Road and Track