Exterior Design: *****
The Sky is the hotness. The creased lines give it an aggressive look that almost eliminates the extreme aura of femininity that surrounds every small convertible, almost. That said, the styling is the Sky's best element. It even looks decent with the top up. It's too bad there's only one exhaust pipe, but that's just another reason to wait for the Sky Redline.
Interior Design: **
It's already been said that the Sky's interior bests that of the Solstice, but that's not saying a whole lot. The chrome accents and glossy finish to the HVAC controls look pretty good, though. But cheap plastic aside — it's only a $25,000 — the Sky's interior is deeply flawed. This is mostly due to the complete lack of storage space, not counting the tiny pockets next to the door sills and the storage bin between the seats. Also, adjusting seat recline, by way of a rotary knob, is difficult to manage with the door closed.
Adequate is never a good word to describe performance, and the Sky's performance is barely adequate. Off the line, the Sky can get a good jump on traffic, but those in a hurry will discover the Sky is brutally slow. Cornering becomes an act of momentum conservation, because it's virtually impossible to power onto the straights. And the engine noise neither wins friends nor influences people. The 260-horsepower, turbocharged Sky Redline is probably worth both the wait and the price premium.
The pedal feel is perfectly weighted and progressive. The Kappa platform borrows a lot from the Corvette, so good brakes are really not much of a surprise.
If you pay very close attention you can feel a little bit of chassis flex on rough roads, but overall the Sky is solid and rides well. Wind noise is a bit of an issue with the top down, and with the top up the roof sounds like it's about to get torn off.
The steering feels good, but ideally it would communicate more about the road. This is likely due to the Sky's tires, which would be more fun if they weren't so wide. Ultimately, the Sky has more grip than power and that definitely limits the fun quotient. If you actually approach the adhesion limit, the Sky gets a little bit twitchy.
The test car came with a five-speed automatic. Get ready for this — it's actually better than the manual transmission. One of many reasons being that third gear is spaced more evenly between second and fourth, so there's less of a precipitous drop in acceleration as the engine falls out of its power band. Moreover, the Sky needs to shift to provide any increase in forward momentum, and when it happens this often it's just as easy to have the car do the work for you.
The upgraded stereo, a $590 option, features a CD/MP3 player and auxiliary input. But the 225 watts on this seven speaker system (with subwoofer) are not enough. At highway speeds with the top down the volume can be turned all the way up without being too loud. And at full volume the speakers distort, and not in a Pete Townsend guitar solo distortion way, but in a "this sounds like crap" way. (Yes, Austin loves the classic rock, and he's still defending any Eagles track with Glenn Frey on vocals.)
The Sky is an emotional purchase, such that value doesn't really enter into the equation. But go ahead and twist our arm. The Sky costs about the same as a luxed-up Miata, and it's less expensive than a Mustang V6 convertible. Of course, if all you really want is a convertible top, the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Miata, and Solstice all start closer to 20 grand than the Sky's base price of $23,115.
There are pop-out cup holders near at the rear of the center console, and a single pop-out cup holder on the passenger's side of the transmission tunnel.
To reiterate a point from Part 1, kludginess like the Sky's trunk design tend to happen when engineers are forced to bring a concept car to life in a short amount of time. The trunk is hinged at the bumper, meaning you have to press down the top's flying buttresses every time you open the cargo hold. And the gas tank bulges out in the middle, eating up most of the space. With the roof down, you can squeeze a few soft bags or maybe some groceries in between the folded top and the rear of the trunk.
The Sky is refreshingly fun to drive. It's flawed, but it is also a very solid first effort from a company (GM as a whole, not just Saturn) that has made far too few exciting low-volume sports cars. It's not quite as well developed or as fun to drive as the Miata, but it definitely beats the Mazda on styling — and this is coming from a Miata fan. The only thing lacking is power, which will be fixed with the debut of the Sky Redline. The extra power is definitely worth the wait, although it might elevate the price into the territory of the Honda S2000.
[by Mike Austin]
Jalopnik Reviews; 2007 Saturn Sky, Part 1,