Saturn SC1 and SC2 coupes beefed up with power, new interior
Date Posted: 5/10/2005
Slip on down a gear, stomp on the go pedal and get a good grip on that sporty steering wheel: We're running up to redline rpms in a racy test of a curvy little coupe, and the good stuff's still to come on serpentine coils of blacktop winding through the scenic Blue Ridge slopes of northern Georgia.
These are healthy hills, please understand, big bumps on the landscape which call for corkscrew corners and switchback sections of pavement.
They're just what thrills an active motorist when playing with turn sets like a rallye driver.
Of course, it helps to have a competent set of wheels to steer, and in this case enough hardware's packed aboard to have some fun.
Power's there when you need it, the shifter feels tight and controllable, rack and pinion steering's quick in reply to the slightest wrist movement, suspension mechanisms smooth out the lumps and hold the car body in check in the corners but still feed back nuances of surface conditions.
In the cockpit, dials appear where you want them, visibility's more than adequate, the driver's bucket seat fits firm against your back and sides, a 3-point belt restrains without noticeable intrusion.
Overall, it's a good ride in a behaved machine that allows some measure of fun, if you're inclined to seek out sporty action while driving.
Now expose the label of this test car and, if you're like me, you too may be astonished to learn such fun on wheels and such assertive performance could come from an economically priced subcompact coupe by Saturn.
Yet it's true: Saturn's coupe can spark a smile.
Producing smiles from the driver has always been my supreme measure of a coupe oriented toward sporty action.
It's just that I didn't expect as much from a Saturn, newest name from General Motors but with a line of sedans and wagons and coupes essentially the same as when these cars first appeared early in the decade.
Noteworthy improvements have been made on the 1995 editions, however, including a boost in horsepower for the base coupe, revamped interior treatment with new instrument panel, plus new safety systems.
If appearance alone could multiply value, Saturn's coupes, labeled SC1 and SC2, would list for a whole lot more than their affordable sticker figures indicate.
Lines look low, sharply streamlined in front but with some unusual shoulder rolls on sides that bring a contoured shape which suggests action. The nose tapers to a virtual point, and the sharp slope of the front hood mirrors an aggressive slant to the bold windshield. A rounded tail in back earns an accent mark with the optional deck spoiler.
Exterior variations between the coupes may be best detected from frontal view, as SC1 stocks exposed headlamps while SC2 conceals them, pop-up style, in a slick design. Both get a one-piece front fascia with broad front opening.
Like all Saturns, the coupes wear side body panels constructed from molded polymer. This pliable plastic resembles sheetmetal but flexes in the face of parking-lot mishaps like close encounters with runaway grocery carts.
Amazingly, the panel snaps back to original shape following such a collision, leaving no dent or ding, and no chipped paint. All cars should have such sides.
The most important addition to Saturn's coupes occurs within the passenger compartment, where dual airbags installed in the revised passenger compartment eliminate those motorized shoulder belts which pestered front seat riders in prior Saturns.
Manually-operated 3-point safety belts supplement Saturn's new airbag system.
Saturn's enhanced interior focuses on a new instrument panel featuring easy-to-read gauges and control buttons set in ergonomic arrangement. This instrument panel contains far fewer components, which should reduce interior rattles hampering previous editions.
Front seat people in the two supportive bucket seats will find ample space for heads, legs and shoulders.
A rear bench could possibly contain up to three adults, but, as with most coupe designs, the area is best reserved for kids, or relatives you wish to punish.
The biggest difference between the two Saturn coupes has been concealed inside their motor compartments. Both contain a 4-cylinder in-line engine that displaces 1.9 liters, but the base plant of SC1 positions a single cam on top, while SC2's gets two camshafts.
This year, multi-point fuel injection replaces a former throttle body injection system on the base engine. The result: Horsepower increases by 15 to a total of 100.
In addition to the dual cams, SC2 stuffs four valves in each cylinder. These various mechanical measures combine to raise the engine's output to 124 hp.
Transmission choices for both coupes include an 5-speed manual shifter or, for an additional $820 shuttled to the bottom line, an electronic 4-speed automatic.
Standard equipment on the SC1 encompasses comfort items like reclining front bucket seats with console, power steering plus a steering column that tilts, tachometer and trip odometer, intermittent windshield wipers, AM-FM stereo radio, and remote releases for fuel door and trunk lid.
The SC2 also gets variable assistance for the power steering, height and lumber adjustments on the driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, sport tuning to the suspension system, plus 15-inch wheels and R-rated tires.
Saturn puts a number of important comfort and safety items, such as air conditioning and anti-lock brakes, on an extensive list of options. Air conditioning moves $905 more to the final number, while an ABS system linked to four disc brakes goes for $725 extra.
Popular accessories cluster in packages. For SC1, a group listing for $1,680 provides air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and door locks, and right side power mirror. For SC2, the $1,885 option produces these items as well as allow wheels.
When comparing Saturn prices against competitors, keep in mind that this brand fixes all figures: Saturn dealers have a no-haggle policy so what you see is what you pay.
Expect Saturn's coupes to run from $12,000 to $17,000.
1995 SATURN COUPE
| Vehicle Specifications:
| 1995 SATURN SC COUPES Specs
| Model Options:
| Overall Length:
| Engine Size:
||SOHC 1.9-L I-4
DOHC 1.9-L I-4 16v
Opt. Power 4-disc/ABS
| Gas Mileage:
||$ 11,900 to $ 17,000