Seemingly forever ago, I was at the beginning of what would be my last winter in Illinois. My modus transportatus at the time was a 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera which we regarded not-so-fondly as the "Gutless" because it had trouble moving its 2900lb bulk even with a 2.8L V6 when it wasn't stalling in the middle of the road. At this point in the not so distant past, I had already had the transmission rebuilt twice and it was in pretty bad need of some intensive care. I was not prepared to provide this care (Damnit Jim, I'm an engineer, not a mechanic!) so it was time to replace it.
This is what I got:
This is the Saturn SL1, 2002 model. It was the last of its kind having been replaced by the not-critically-acclaimed Saturn Ion. As you may remember from my previous not-so-award-winning post on Fragmentation, it's mostly made of plastic. Thus, it weighs in at a comparatively svelte 2350lbs and is reasonably powered by a 1.9L 100hp inline 4. If that doesn't sound like a lot of power, it's because it isn't; but it was plenty enough to kick the crap out of the dying Gutless. It gets on average, 35mpg in city and 40mpg or more on the highway if there aren't a lot of hills (i.e., not PA). Yes, that's right, I get more than 40mpg on the highway most of the time (highest clocked in at 44mpg or so on a straight shot through Ohio).
After purchasing the vehicle, I ended up leaving the state for Virginia soon thereafter only to move to Wisconsin in a couple years, and now Maryland a couple years after that. You wouldn't believe the pain in locating and then transferring my title. It's been through a lot in the roughly 6 years I've owned it and still is in pretty good working order. It's a great car, even if a bit low on power, and it's hard to beat the gas mileage. But as much as I love my SL1, it was time for something new and hot.
Imagine my surprise when Saturn not only came through with a very sporty vehicle that I wouldn't have to haggle for, but also came through with one of the top vehicles in its class! I present to you, my brand new Saturn Sky Redline, 2009:
The Redline comes equipped with a 2.0L 260hp turbocharged inline 4 and has a curb weight of about 2900lbs. No amount of my picture taking can adequately capture its knuckle biting beauty. It is also not slow. No, sir, it is not. And if you compare it to just about any other vehicle in its class, it comes out ahead either in looks, power, or power/price ratio. Seriously. Go compare for yourself if you don't believe me. I'll wait.
I don't think I've ever owned a nicer thing. I even learned to drive stick so that certain people (you know who you are!) wouldn't mock me for buying a slushbox. For a guy who's spent more time driving 10+ year old rust buckets than otherwise, it's a pretty big change of pace and a heck of a lot of fun.