I’ve always been a firm believer that first impressions are an important indication of what’s to come. The first impression the 2008 Saturn Sky Turbo was a bright and bubbly one that promised lots of fun. From a branding standpoint, there didn’t appear to be any logos indicating that this was the Redline model, other than the turbo badge on the aft flank. Sliding behind the wheel, I found the cockpit more suited to a round guy than the standard of the class, Mazda’s MX-5. The interior is actually as hip looking as the outside and was comfy to boot.
Fire up the 260 hp, 2.0 liter turbo four cylinder and it settles in to a nice lumpy idle that gives some indication that something serious is going on under the hood. The lumpy idle exits the exhaust with a burble that’s just the right volume for a street car. Loud enough to stir the emotions, but not quite enough to alert the constabulary to your existance. Besides, the bright yellow skin already made sure you were noticed!
As this was quite literally the first rear wheel drive car I’d had on a track, I was determined to keep my head on straight and with it the car on the pavement. With no electronic trickery, a limited slip diff in the rear axle and 260 hp on tap I expected the car to be a handful for a rwd neophyte like me. I needn’t have worried though, as GM’s chassis guys have tuned this car so well that it is almost impossible for a thinking driver to screw up. Ok, so the key there is the thinking driver, but the car really is easy to drive fast.
Out of the pit lane, the Sky pulls hard through first and second. In the infield turns, the handling is completely neutral. I expected the car to be more than a bit tail happy at the limit, but oversteer only comes when it is brought on with quick exit speeds and a healthy dose of throttle. Surprisingly, the power comes on smoothly as the turbo spools up, with just a hint of a whoosh to reassure you that it’s spinning under the hood. Up onto the banks, I managed to hit about 120 miles per hour and the car felt smooth and stable the whole time. At the end of the long straight, the brakes modulated well and never came close to activating the ABS.
I found the seats were comfortable and supportive enough that I could spend the whole afternoon lapping and not get tired. The rib pain factor was not an issue in this car. That said, maybe it was the neutrality of the car, but I didn’t find myself lapping as aggressively in the Sky as I did some of the other cars but I did really enjoy it. Opinions vary though and another journalist got out of the car and complained that the rear end felt squishy and disconnected.
Overall, the Saturn Sky Redline was a comfortable track day car that was more than capable. The chassis is so well set up and is so forgiving that it would make for a great Sunday driver. That is if the Sunday drive was to the local track for a lapping day.