Here's What You Should Know Before Buying A Saturn Sky

January 27, 2023

The Saturn Sky is a dazzling reminder of General Motors' line of thought when it founded the subsidiary two decades before producing the marque. GM introduced the brand to compete directly with Japanese imports to the U.S. compact car market. The Sky roadster set a new benchmark for the now-defunct brand that announced itself as a ‘different kind of company with a different kind of Car.’

The Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice were built in GM’s Wilmington, Delaware facility, both riding on the company’s subcompact rear-wheel-drive Kappa platform and sporting similar dimensions except for the Solstice's 3.9 inches longer profile. Introduced in 2006 for the 2007 model year, Sky arrived at the European market branded as the Opel GT, and as many as 34,000 Skys were still on American roads as of 2017 versus the Opel GT’s 7,500.

Some may beg to differ, but the Sky is the more deluxe version of the Solstice, even though both shared the same 2.4-liter inline-4 engine. Since it’s been more than a decade and over a hundred thousand of the Kappa cars, including the Solstice, Sky, and Opel GT roaming our streets, it makes sense to look well and hard before you leap if you’re planning to buy this compact sports car.

Related: This Is The True Meaning Behind The Saturn Logo

What Is The Saturn Sky?

NAParish via Wikimedia

It’s a roadster that first appeared as a concept at the North American Auto Show in 2005 and rushed into production the following year and got released as a 2007 model year vehicle. American automotive designer Franz von Holzhausen penned the designs of both the Sky and Solstice. With its 95.1 inches wheelbase, the Saturn Sky is almost completely dimensionally identical to GM’s other brand, the Pontiac Solstice.

It is 161.1 inches long, 71.4 inches wide, and 50.2 inches tall. The base version has a curb weight of 2,940 lbs, while the Red Line version weighed 3,071 lbs. Like the Solstice, the Saturn Sky is powered by GM’s 2.4-liter Ecotec LE5 4-cylinder engine that made a humble 177 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 173 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm.

The Red Line trim received a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 direct-injected engine that raised the power output to 260 horsepower and an optional dealer-installed turbo upgrade that made an updated 290 horsepower. The engines got paired with a 5-speed Aisin AR-5 manual or 5-speed GM 5L40-E automatic transmission setup. Franz based the Sky’s design on the Vauxhall VX Lightning Concept.

Remembering The 2006 Sky Red Line

Vauxford via Wikimedia

As the gearhead we think you are, you should definitely keep an eye out for the Red Line as you hunt for the 2-seat roadster to make the most of your summer because you probably don’t have the cash to just get an MX-5 Miata or just that there's something about the Saturn Sky that rubs you in a good way. In any case, the Saturn Sky Redline has the markings of a future classic, and you can snag one right now for less than $15,000. Yay.

We slide down memory lane to remember how GM responded to the Japanese imports flooding the US compact car market by launching the Saturn brand as a new GM subsidiary to take on the parasites. A few years down the road, the $3 billion Saturn project disgorged cheap models like the S-Series and the drab L-Series. These were popular models but never lived up to their fighter brand expectations, even after the parent company expanded Saturn’s portfolio to include the Vue compact SUV and the Aura mid-size sedan with the dawn of the new millennium.

In fact, GM tried to sell the Saturn brand around the time the depression hit in 2008. So, you can imagine how the automotive world got stunned when the company introduced the Kappa-based Sky, looking very much like a rebadged Solstice. The turbocharged Red Line trim took the naturally breathing inline-4 a notch further and featured many upgrades mimicking the higher trim Solstice GXP. The longitudinally-mounted 2.0-liter Ecotec LNF inline-4 sounds miserly compared to GM's other V6 and V8 units, but it was perfect for the Kappa platform.

The design of this mill looked up the skirt of racing programs, as exemplified by the low-friction cast aluminum pistons with oil squirters, forged steel crankshaft, and sodium-filled stainless steel Inconel exhaust valves resembling those of the Corvette V8 powertrains, and forged steel connecting rods. Besides the engine, the Red Line Saturn Sky had an enhanced sport suspension system along with a torque-sensing limited-slip differential and standard StabiliTrak stability control that improved its handling.

Related: These Cheap Sports Cars Are Way More Fun Than A Mustang

What To Look For When Buying A Saturn Sky

Chris Mojo Denbow via Wikimedia

The Saturn Sky may not rival the Mazda Miata's fun-to-drive quality, but it is a great ride and is easy to control, and that’s a very good thing. You don’t buy a Sky because you need a family car to accommodate the kids and the nanny nicely. Not even the trunk is spacious enough to take much luggage, and the folding soft top is a multistep process you need to get out of the car to handle.

But you already know all these about the Sky and just want to get prepared for possible unknowns, right? Your first port of call when checking out your potential Saturn Sky is… drum roll - the airbag. Data collected by CarProblemZoo found that out of the 23 most common problems associated with the Saturn Sky, the number one is in the vehicle's airbags category.

The site registered 340 airbag issues, while the second most common problem has to do with the vehicle's service brakes and hydraulic, with a disproportionate 77 problems registered in this category. The airbag problem typically manifests as a broken passenger presence sensor in the passenger seat for the airbag system whereby the passenger airbag light displays "off" along with a "Service Airbag" message on the dash despite an adult passenger in the seat.

You should also ensure the high-pressure fuel pump and camshaft solenoids aren't falling, although those are easy fixes. Another big one besides the airbag is the Saturn Sky's low front chin. It's inevitable, sadly. The low chin and just about everything beneath the front nose can turn your parking lot curbs into a constant enemy. You can’t be careful enough not to scrap it at some point. So, keep that in mind.

Besides the airbag and front fenders, people have reported the door handles snapping, the cup holders breaking, the top latch loosening, water leakages, and failing trunk support brackets.

Our advice: run a CARFAX report to check for any issues on record and visit a GM dealership with the VIN to pull a report from the GM maintenance database. This should provide an abundance of valuable information on maintenance, failures, mileage, and recalls applied or outstanding on the car you’re buying. Ultimately, the Saturn Sky is a great value for money if you’re looking for a fun, reliable, affordable, and stylish coupe.

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