By on October 31, 2006

x07st_sk092.jpgThe Saturn Sky has been a tremendous success. Not because it’s a great car; the lack of any appreciable trunk space and the model’s less than intoxicating driving dynamics make it a toy with limited play value. But the Sky knocks the ball out of the park in the style department. In fact, the Sky is the most physically appealing GM car has produced since Harley Earl last prowled the halls of The General’s design department. With the advent of the Saturn Sky Red Line, GM’s different kind of sports car gets a chance to redeem itself amongst die-hard pistonheads, to whom the drop-dead gorgeous base model failed to provide the necessary automotive intercourse. Unfortunately…

While the Saturn Sky Red Line’s basic shape and proportions remain top shelf eye candy– a modern take on the original Corvette– God is not in the details. The Red Line’s chromed hood vents are fake. The headlights’ black bezels, chromed exhausts tips and 18” wheels are nice, but they do little to project the requisite menace. OK, the brake cooling vents and the larger mesh in the lower grille add a bit of aggression, but the cosmetic changes to the basic Sky are about as thrilling as Pamela Anderson’s fourth breast op. Meanwhile, twin antennas– an OnStar/XM killer whale and an analog radio whip– continue to mar the roadster’s pitch perfect lines.

x07st_sk082.jpgStill, who cares? I admit that my pants were wet when I got behind the wheel of the Sky Red Line. Not because of the way it looked, sounded or drove; because the roof leaked. So I dropped the thoroughly ridiculous piece of barnyard engineering known as the Saturn Sky’s roof. Step 1: Open the windows and unlatch the top from the top of the windshield. Crack open the glovebox and hit the trunk release. Hop out of the car. Step 2: Lift the boot lid. With both hands, pull the top backward into the trunk. When you think it’s down, give it a nice shove in the middle ‘til it’s nestled snugly. Step 3: Slam (and I mean SLAM!) the boot lid down, making sure it’s sealed on either side of the car. Step 4: Never pack luggage. My normal airplane carry-on wouldn’t fit into the trunk.

[For those of you who think GM’s got this quality thing sorted, open the Sky Red Line’s trunk and look at the base of the top. You’ll see little foam cubes plasti-tied (like clothing tags) to help the roof keep its shape.]

x07st_sk096.jpgI believe a convertible’s cool factor is measured in direct proportion to the hotness of the woman next to you. Women who achieve high Fahrenheit readings will not be pleased by the lack of a vanity mirror in the Saturn Red Line’s sun visor. Nor will she be pleased with how low you sit inside its carcass. In fact, my girlfriend refused to drive the car. She said she didn’t feel safe in it. This is from someone who used to drive a rusty Dodge Caravan without complaint.

As I mentioned, my first day with the Saturn Sky Red Line was wet, wet, wet (and too cold to play ball), so I left the traction control alone and did nothing at all. (The base car is a handful in the wet; she’ll swap ends faster than a boomerang.) Later, in the dry, I discovered that the more powerful Red Line Sky makes tire-shredding mid-corner drifts so easy you’ll start to think your last name is Millen. Until you hit a bump. The Sky Red Line’s damping is fine– initially. The rebound is vicious. It kicks out the tail of the car, unsettling the rear tires and eliminating driver confidence. Then the chassis twists a bit, prompting arm flailing and passenger-side nausea. You can learn to live with the Sky’s limitations, scanning the roadway for potential disaster as you gather speed, but it’s not exactly what I’d call fun.

x07st_sk098.jpgIf this is what “unique Red Line coil springs” do for handling, someone at Saturn should put in an urgent call Tempurpedic. Oh, right; the power. I almost forgot. The Red Line has a 260hp Ecotec four-cylinder engine. Whereas a similar engine in the Cobalt SS Super-charged has its moments-– including a delicious WW2 fighter plane belt whine– the turbo bolted onto the Sky’s unit just gives this asthmatic motor a puffer. If lackluster power delivery isn’t enough to frustrate the fully committed speed freak, the fact that the four pot quit in traffic should. Four times.

Taken as a whole, it’s as if Saturn/Opel/GM/Vauxhall/Pontiac’s engineers built this sports car using 10-foot poles. Everything about the ostensibly rabid roadster seems to have been developed from well outside the car– sacrificing drivability, handling, practicality, reliability, usability and comfort. Yes, the Saturn Sky Red Line looks like sex-on-wheels. And that’s about it.

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129 Comments on “Saturn Sky Red Line Review...”


  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Yes, its really beautifull. I will buy a model of it and put it on my shelf. Or not.

    • 0 avatar
      tmbmvp

      OK I registered with this site just to leave this review. This is the only negative review of the sky redline I can find. Motor trend, Road and Track, edmunds, cnet all gave this car great reviews. I bought one about a month ago. It turns heads every where I go. The 260hp turbo charged engine delivers plenty of power, (GM offers a turbo upgrade to 290 that will not void the 100k engine and powertrain warranty) the top takes about 10 seconds to lower and does not leak. I am about 5’10 180 and there is plenty of room for me. It handles great and is a ton of fun to drive. I bought a 2 seat convertible, turbo charged car not to let my girl friend drive, or to carry my luggage around. I bought it to do what it is made to do…have fun and look great.

      • 0 avatar
        TheCarrier

        Right On, tmbmvp. I got my 2009 Redline in June and it is pure joy. The reviewer’s thinking is wrong. One doesn’t buy a Sky for cargo space any more than one buys an SUV for racing slalom. If he’s too lazy to put the top down I hope his girlfriend brings him his chips and beer to the couch (chips pre-chewed). Buy an armored car if you don’t “feel safe”, not a Sky. Crash ratings are not bad, and rollover is 5-star. It is regrettable that the hood vents are fake, but they certainly make the car look great. Lots of power & corners like a dream. And it fits me fine at 6′-0″ / 192 lbs.

        2009 Redline Sky, Ruby Red
        6 disc Monsoon player
        Black top / Black Leather
        Optional wheel upgrade
        Stock

      • 0 avatar
        tmbmvp

        Update!. I got the Trifecta tune for my Redline and holy crap. The turbo which use to top out at around 17 psi now buries the gauge at 23 psi every time. Vince from trifecta performance said it is actually pushing 25 psi but the three bar gauge can only go so high. I have no problems breaking the tires loose in second gear at 35 mph. The look on the faces of the unsuspecting mustang drivers is priceless and I walk away from their big V8’s with my little 4 banger…!

  • avatar
    Terry

    “It’s Deja Fiero all over again”

  • avatar
    1984

    With 0-60 in 5.5 (and a quarter mile time of a 2007 Mustang GT 13.9) seconds and equipped with a Bilstein full coilover suspension pulling a 0.90g skidpad… I have a hard time believing that the power or handling completely suck on this car.

  • avatar
    ash78

    I would have titled it: “This piece of halibut not good enough for Jehovah” ;)

    Interesting review…but anything good you might have said about it seems to have been denigated by the overall crappy practical experience. Sounds like you might have gotten a lemon with the leaky roof and stalling engine. That’s just not par for the course on new, modern cars (no matter what the manufacturer. OK, maybe for TVR or the like, but not for mass manufacturers).

  • avatar

    1984… It is also about how the power and handling are delivered. Having driven the original Sky, you can see that the car is not designed for any sort of real feedback. It also is built like a complete piece of crap which doesn’t help. If the Miata would just be a little less jelly-beanish, there would be no reason for this car. And if you want a car with no storage space at all and better feel, the weird little Toyota would be better, just tack on a turbo to that I guess…

  • avatar
    noley

    I haven’t gotten into a Redline yet, but I found that like so many roadsters, the Sky is made for people who are about 38 Regular, if you will, rather than my 44 Long. Even though the steering wheel adjusts up-down-in-out it is hard to find a comfortable driving position, and the seats themselves leave a lot to be desired. Plus, the A-pillar is about the size of a 4 x 4 landscape timber and could obscure a H2 at an intersection. And the top is ridiculous. I don’t mind a manual top, but with other good top designs as examples there is no excuse for the Sky’s.

    GM hits another one straight to the shortstop. Or fouls out into the stands. For the same money you can get a CPO Boxster or Z3 and have a real car.

  • avatar
    1984

    If you’re looking for “practicality” and “usable space” somehow the thought of a 2 seat roadster would not cross your mind anyway.

    Say what you want but the Sky Redline would make a MX5 look like it was going backwards. Hell, it does that when it’s parked.

  • avatar
    RicardoHead

    If your GF doesn’t want a ride in that, I’d get another GF. With the looks of the Sky, it won’t be tough.

    Yes it may not be as sportingly competent as a Miata, but can someone tell me if the Opel version of the Redline is any better? I thought this was basically identical, and I remember reading a fair amount of praise abou the Opel.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    1984-

    the mazda is not as cool looking, and it is smaller, BUT it has better everything else, including luggage space. How is that possible? The Sky is huge next to Miata. Why is there no room in it? Its obviously possible. Even with its new retractable hard top, there is more luggage space in the mazda.

    I drove it back to back with a MX5, there was seriously no driving comparison.

    Understand me, I want a larger roadster than the mazda, but it will be my only car, and will need to occasionally go to the supermarket. I wish the hell they had done this one right.

    I was really hoping.

  • avatar

    1984-

    Skidpads don’t have bumps.

    As for a ‘practical’ 2 seat roadster, I’ve found my TT plenty practical. I’ve taken 3 week road trips in it (admittedly by myself, but I still had luggage room to spare) and mine’s quattro, which eats into the trunk significantly.

  • avatar
    1984

    See Edmunds.

    MX5 has the same track numbers as the standard sky. Add 85 HP and coilovers and guess what? It’s a faster car than the MX5. Comparing a car with useless trunk space to a car with worse useless trunk space does not seem to trump the looks and the extra 85 HP.

  • avatar
    1984

    TT is bigger than a sky RL, 300lbs heavier, slower and more expensive. There is nothing wrong with that, obviously the TT is superior in other areas but it’s all relative to the mission of the vehicle. The TT is a great daily driver and has a ballance of real usefullness. the SKY/MX5 leans more towards a purpose built toy.

    The MX5 and Sky are impractical cars by design. You may edge out one car or the other in practicality but it’s kinda like being the smartest kid in summer school.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    I still think the actual discussion should be; Skin not-withstanding, why is the Sky in both regular and redline trim indentical to the Pontiacs??

    Why not give one 10 more horsepower, and one firmer shocks?

    Something, anything to justify their existance?

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    If the sky and solstice hard power tops and similar space to the miata all would be forgiven. I’d take a used z4 over it any day. Pretty will get you far but only so far.

  • avatar
    JJ

    but can someone tell me if the Opel version of the Redline is any better? I thought this was basically identical, and I remember reading a fair amount of praise abou the Opel.

    Well, it looks the same and has the same engine as the Saturn Red Line version, same interior too from what I can tell. But are they going to adjust the chassis setup, I don’t know…

    I figure they will though because they do that with every car that comes to Europe, since we need to be able to go round corners here. Even with performance cars like the Corvette we only get versions that have more or less the US spec sport suspension. Probably and hopefully they take one to the OPC devision before they start selling here.

    Anyway, it’s not on sale till spring 07 I believe (in the Netherlands at least) so we’ll have to wait some more to find out I guess.

  • avatar
    Teds

    I haven’t driven either version but I sat in a Saturn Sky in the NY Auto show and it was the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever been inside except maybe the back seat of a CLS. I have a hard time sitting too vertically, it bothers my back. I am only 5′ 9″ and I couldn’t get a comfortable position because there was no damn room. The transmission tunnel cuts into your leg room significantly as well. Let me also state for the record that I love driving mini coopers and I have sat in an elise which was great so I do like small cars. I just could not have liked the sky interior less which was a dissapointment because it looks so good, muuuch better than the pedestrian soltice. I think the ecotec engine is pretty cool sounding on paper, more than 100hp/liter sounds like something you would find at BMW’s M division not being sold next to tupperware on wheels like the ION. Shame it did so poorly in the review.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    I’ve seen the regular sky in person and it is huge. It looked like the size of a cadillac. It’s only got a 4-cylinder and no storage room at all? what did they fill all that body with? this car is a real disappointment.

  • avatar
    Hoosier Red

    If the sky and solstice hard power tops and similar space to the miata all would be forgiven. I’d take a used z4 over it any day. Pretty will get you far but only so far.

    Yeah…..but then you’d be driving a really ugly car. Z3 = classic. Z4 = platypus.

  • avatar
    Jon Furst

    “Nor will she be pleased with how low you sit inside its carcass. In fact, my girlfriend refused to drive the car. She said she didn’t feel safe in it. This is from someone who used to drive a rusty Dodge Caravan without complaint.”

    What a ridiculous anecdote to add to the article. Are you trying to tell us that your girlfriend has bad judgment? How is this relevant? Would she get into a Miata, or is it that she’s afraid of all small cars? Why would sitting low make her feel less safe? Would she rather than half of her body was exposed above the window line? She’s one of those people we all heard about in driver’s ed, one of the “I’m not going to wear a seatbelt because in an accident I’d rather be thrown clear” people, isn’t she?

  • avatar
    Jon Furst

    dolo54:

    The Sky is 3.8″ longer, 3.7″ wider, and 1.2″ taller than a 2007 Miata.

    The Sky is 1.7″ longer, 2.9″ wider, and 0.7″ shorter than a 2002 Z3, a car no one thought was “huge”.

    I can only imagine what you drive if you think the Sky is huge!

  • avatar
    kaisen

    If you think the driving dynamics suck, and the Miata MX5 is ‘better’, then explain why the non-turbo Solstice/SKY have absolutely dominated SCCA autocross this year, taking home the overall SSB championship, winning in C stock, and setting several lap records. Kappas handle VERY well, period.

    With 260hp on tap, the GXP/Redline versions are gunning for the 240hp S2000.

    This site seems to define success in terms of sales, but fails to mention that GM has sold 21,700 Solstice/SKY so far this year, where Mazda has only sold 13,900 Miata MX5. Try to buy a SKY Redline and you’ll hear that they are sold out for the forseeable future.

    The top configuration of the Kappa sucks, and it is a travesty that there is no luggage space. I talked to an owner about this and he said, “I didn’t buy it to haul things, I bought it to haul ass.”

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Mallet’s already done it, so I’ll just say it.

    The Sky would absolutely destroy everything this side of a F430 with a 6.0L small-block under the hood. Screw the leaky top and non-functional styling bits…this car is a God with a real motor.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    What is a Staurn ?

    Looks may be a positive but quality and design problems will sink the Sky soon enough.

  • avatar
    ash78

    kaisen:
    This site seems to define success in terms of sales, but fails to mention that GM has sold 21,700 Solstice/SKY so far this year, where Mazda has only sold 13,900 Miata MX5.

    Quick point: One is in the early adopter stage, the other is probably in the late maturity stage. Apples and oranges…while sales is a valid figure to most, we’re comparing two same-segment cars with 15 years between their initial introductions.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    sajeev – what about the handling? every review I’ve read of this car says that the handling not so great. I would imagine the mallet version has suspension mods as well as the v8.

  • avatar
    1984

    Apples and oranges…while sales is a valid figure to most, we’re comparing two same-segment cars with 15 years between their initial introductions.

    By what variable should the Kappa’s success be judged against then? MX5 is the only game in town in that price range.

  • avatar
    lzaffuto

    “If you’re looking for “practicality” and “usable space” somehow the thought of a 2 seat roadster would not cross your mind anyway.”

    If practicality and usable space weren’t a concern, you could buy a mid-range sportbike for half the price and wipe the floor with both of these cars. Believe it or not many people commute with a Miata… I did. I even used it for work and loaded tons of printer and computer parts in it. Right now I’m looking at the new Miata and the S2000 and wouldn’t consider a Solstice or Sky because of the lack of storage space and comfort. There isn’t even enough room to go on vacation with it, much less use it as a daily driver. Of course, there is also the fact that the main feature of the car (convertible top) is a complete disaster…

    I wanted to like the Solstice and (especially) the Sky. But the fact is that it is an impractical car that looks great and puts down impressive numbers on a track. That’s it. If I wanted something along those lines, I’d buy a sportbike or an Ariel Atom.

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    I drove this car at Ccoty and had a hell of a good time in it. No, it’s not that refined and it’s completely impractical. But it was a nimble little bugger on the track, easy to drive and I loved the short shifter with its precise gates. I also drove it through countryside and on a major highway — and felt perfectly safe in it.

  • avatar
    Joe Chiaramonte

    1984:

    If you’re looking for “practicality” and “usable space” somehow the thought of a 2 seat roadster would not cross your mind anyway.

    the SKY/MX5 leans more towards a purpose built toy.

    Comparing a car with useless trunk space to a car with worse useless trunk space does not seem to trump the looks and the extra 85 HP.

    The MX5 and Sky are impractical cars by design. You may edge out one car or the other in practicality but it’s kinda like being the smartest kid in summer school.

    With the top down: I can easily fit a week’s worth of groceries, including cases of water or soda or beer in the trunk of my Mk2 Miata. I’m looking forward to heading to Sonoma this weekend with a weekend bag for two and coming home with at least one full case of wine. My golf clubs are coming with me to work Thursday.

    It is unthinkable that a *newer* *longer* *wider* *taller* *bulgy* design, meant to compete in this genre, has 2 cubic feet of trunk space. That would certainly cramp my weekend style. Miscalculate, and you break the rear window. What the hell were they thinking?

    85 more HP? If I wanted or needed more oomph, I could strap on a Jackson Racing supercharger, or a mechanic friend has offered to shimmy a small-block into it. Or, I would have bought a Boxster S. As it is, I *average* 80 mph on my daily commute. Uphill. Any more power, and I will draw the certain attention of the CHP.

    The useability of a trunk makes the Miata more than a weekend toy – it’s a top-down-optional daily driver with some measure of utility. For me, that puts it all over the Sky or Solstice in spades.

  • avatar
    Hutton

    I’m glad this car exists for the sole purpose of pushing Mazda to explore a more emotional design for the next Mx-5. Because other than the looks, the Mazda is the clear winner. The Sky and Solstice are damn sexy, but it’s a shame that GM would enter such a small segment, so late, with something that doesn’t compete. They should have set out to beat Mazda from day one.

    And the availability of a slushbox in the “red-line” model isn’t gonna help their cred’ much.

  • avatar
    kaisen

    ash78-
    Quick point: One is in the early adopter stage, the other is probably in the late maturity stage. Apples and oranges…while sales is a valid figure to most, we’re comparing two same-segment cars with 15 years between their initial introductions.

    Remember that the 2006 Mazda Miata MX5 was ALL NEW. So was the Solstice (SKY came out early 07 MY). So when Mazda sells 9801 Miatas in 2005, 9356 in 2004, and 10,920 in 2003, it HAS to be disappointing to have GM outsell annihilate the ‘segment leader’, even though the MX5 had ‘new’ product. The public (and racers) likes the Solstice/SKY, even if a few import-loving journalists don’t.

  • avatar

    What is a Staurn ?

    It’s the sixth palnet

  • avatar
    Hutton

    Kaisen,
    The Camry outsells the 3-series. That doesn’t make it the better sedan.

  • avatar
    Alex Rashev

    I have an engine where Sky has the top, and I still get to have a usable trunk. Two, actually :)

    Seriously, the ergonomics of Sky are amazing, in an awful kind of way.

    It would make a beast as a targa (or t-top) “hardtop”, though. I wonder why they had to chase Miata when there’s an available, deserted market out there.

  • avatar
    kaisen

    Hutton-

    The Camry outsells the 3-series. That doesn’t make it the better sedan.

    They’re also NOT competitors in the same segment. MX5 and Kappas are direct competitors.

  • avatar
    kaisen

    They should have set out to beat Mazda from day one.

    Beat them how? They outsell them. They win races against them. They beat them in every measure of performance. They’re less expensive. Oh, wait, they don’t have as big a trunk, and that IS one of the most important criteria in a sports car. I guess you’re right.

    And the availability of a slushbox in the “red-line” model isn’t gonna help their cred’ much.

    Are you serious? I guess since 911 Turbos are available with automatics (that are as fast or faster than the manuals) we should shun them as wet-noodle girly cars? And aren’t Miatas available with slushboxes? Thought so.

  • avatar
    Cowbell

    I’m sure the Sky has it’s problems, but it seems pretty good for what you get for the money.

    Motor Trend ran the Solstice GXP (The Sky Redline’s twin sister) against the Nissan 350Z Roadster and the Z4 on a road course. The Solstice (1:36.7 seconds) beat the 350Z’s time (1:38.3 seconds) and was only slightly behind the Z4’s time (1:35.9 seconds ). Not bad when you consider the Solstice/Sky is about $10,000 cheaper than a 350Z roadster with an even bigger price difference to the Z4.

    The Sky may not be as smooth as a Miata, but this review made it sound like a a sexy exterior on a car you have to pedal. Anything that can run with a Z4 and a 350Z is more than an just sheetmetal. Or maybe Jehovah would totally slam the 350Z too. It could just be his preferences.

  • avatar
    1984

    Mod the MX5 to = Sky?

    If that case we should strap on side bags to the Sky make up for the 2 extra gallons of milk you can fit in a MX5. You know… just to make the “mod” philosophy stick.

    It looks better, it’s faster and as just about as useless… get over it and wait for a worthy MX5 replacement.

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    As it is, I *average* 80 mph on my daily commute. Uphill. Any more power, and I will draw the certain attention of the CHP.

    Both ways? :-D

  • avatar
    Hutton

    They’re also NOT competitors in the same segment. MX5 and Kappas are direct competitors.

    OK, then. Camry vs. WRX. Same segment. Same point.

    And aren’t Miatas available with slushboxes? Thought so.

    Yup, Miatas have ‘em too. And Miatas have the unfortunate rep of being girly cars. Coincidence? That’s one area I would think the General wouldn’t want to follow the Miata. And 911 with an auto… fast or not, I can’t think of anything more shameful. Talk to anyone with an automatic roadster, and be prepared to hear sad stories about how they would have got the stick, if it wasn’t for the wife.

  • avatar
    1984

    Talk to anyone with an automatic roadster, and be prepared to hear sad stories about how they would have got the stick, if it wasn’t for the wife.

    Grounds for divorce…

    But none the less at lest you got one over a lesser autotragic.

  • avatar
    Alex Rashev

    Camry is not in WRX segment. It’s not an offroad sports wagon, it’s a mid-size family 4-door. Camry belongs to Accords, Legacies, and Impalas ;)

    Just admit it, Miata got spanked. It’s amazing that it held the market hostage for so long, being a horribly overpriced little RWD two-seater with a commuter-rated 4-banger. How creative.

  • avatar
    Lyn Vogel

    The single best way to get me to not purchase your car is to embed it with fake hood (and side) scoops.

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    So… pull ‘em off!

  • avatar

    What matters the most in this segment is weight. I’d be reluctant to push a fat-ass Solstice/Sky hard down Decker, but a Miata is perfect. That it also can carry clothes for an extended weekend getaway for two AND weighs less is just embarassing.

    Mazda held the line on weight with this new MX5, and that is a major achievement for a modern day manufacturer. They seem to be one of the few that get it, but I expect others to start following.

    I’ll bet the next Mazdaspeed variant will be the one doing the spanking.

  • avatar
    middleNameIsEarl

    Why not compare this thing to the Honda S2000? Not hugely different dimensions, and the price and horsepower are closer than the MX5/Sky comparison. I’ve not driven the Sky, but if it’s as unruly on less-than-flat pavement than it sounds, then the S2K is an even more perfect head to head comparison. I still shudder when I think about the first time I almost spun out after hitting a pothole on Memorial drive at 80 Mph.

  • avatar
    kaisen

    So Jehova Johnson is not a journalist? He’s published here on TTAC, so that makes him a journalist in my opinion.

  • avatar
    middleNameIsEarl

    Supporting my argument that the S2000 is the better targetted comparison:

    Sky Re-line S2000
    MSRP $28,295 $34,050
    HP 260@5300 237@7800
    torque 260@2500 162@6800
    curb weight 2990 2855
    length 161.1 162.2
    width 71.4 68.9
    wheelbase 95.1 94.5

    While the prices look far apart, there really aren’t any options to be had on an S2K. Add a few options to a Sky, and its well over 32K.

  • avatar
    Joe Chiaramonte

    Jazbo – gotta cross the Sunol Grade each day – steep on both sides.

    Nothing peeves me faster than road-boulders in the fast lane on the uphill slope (usually SUVs and Corollas). My “commuter-rated 4-banger” accels past them easily when I get an opening [BTW, the Ecotec is in plenty of GM “commuter-rated” cars, too].

    While everyone else stomps the binders downhill, I just pull off the gas. The engine braking works great.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Stop with all this lap time nonsense.

    Who cares?

    Anyone who calls the MX-5 “girly” or “gay” has never driven one.

    What the Mazda is going to have that the Ponti-Sat ain’t is the best gearbox every created by man, near-perfect steering, ludicrously wonderful steering and the rarest of all features, that litte something else.

    That special something that you can’t measure, you can’t time, you can’t ever necessarily describe. All you know is, you exit the car, walk a few paces, turn around and wink, because the two of you just shared something very special.

    The Boxster has this. Mustangs have lots of this.

    And the Miata has it in spaces.

  • avatar
    kaisen

    The Kappa 5 speed manual is praised for its shift action and feel, and if you’ve driven both they are similar enough to make it a non-issue.

    No doubt the Kappas have a little less steering feel due to their monster 245 tires (vs MX5 205s), but those large contact patches help the performance envelope.

    I personally think the ‘new’ MX5 is a little more girly and toned down than the original Miata. It got fatter, softer, and uglier…. like most middle age girls.

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    Oh brother.
    Well, this definitely not fat and decidedly not ugly middle-aged blonde would be happy to take either Miata.

  • avatar
    Joe Chiaramonte

    Lesley, How You Doin’? ;-D

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    Me? Doin’ great!
    Just spent a week driving all kinds of cool cars, does it get any better?

    And Jonny? Drove your beloved Shelby GT500 – the automotive equivalent of a BFH. Great fun on the track and the low-down-dirtiest exhaust note ever. :)

  • avatar
    Alex Rashev

    Trouble about this segment is that appearance is what makes sales.

    MkIII MR2 rapes same-year Miatas on paper and on track, was cheaper to operate, certainly had the special “something”, and had a loyal following since 85′. BUT! Never was a Toyota showroom marred by a car of such unimaginable ugliness. MkIII was so ugly that if you saw one in your nightmare, you wouldn’t wake up. Thus, Miata still sells well and MR2 is no more.

    Now we have this Solstice/Sky, which not only beats Miata on performance, but also makes it look like a 2-seater Aztek when it comes to styling. The second they figure out the folding top problem, Miata is doomed.

    And if, god forbid, they’ll replace turbo engine with a 7-liter V8 for the Pontiac version, Mazda will have to bring out the turbo rotary again if it wants to keep the performance roadster crown. Hey, at least we’re gonna have some sweet horespower war times again.

    Solstice can really shake the market, I hope they don’t drop the ball on it. It can be like AMD – if not for them, we’d still have Pentium II’s in our computers.

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    I liked the MR2. Of course, I also liked the Omni GLH.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Leslie — BFH?

    Uh… you mean big hammer, right?

    And… I never said anything nice about the GT500… talk to Sajeev.

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    Ohhhhhh, I thought it was you. My bad.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    I like MR2s also. I think they look better in person than in pics. but the mkI is better looking than the mkIII to me.

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    Joe,

    Agree with the Corollas, add Camries and Minivans and you’ll pretty much complete my list of road boulders. Whether it’s a Solstice, Miata or my A8, road boulders are almost as frustrating as work! A lot folks think of a hill as a reason to slow down, I think of them as a reason to put my foot farther down

    Nothing peeves me faster than road-boulders in the fast lane on the uphill slope (usually SUVs and Corollas). My “commuter-rated 4-banger” accels past them easily when I get an opening [BTW, the Ecotec is in plenty of GM “commuter-rated” cars, too].

  • avatar
    Joe Chiaramonte

    Alex:

    MkIII MR2 rapes same-year Miatas on paper and on track, was cheaper to operate, certainly had the special “something”, and had a loyal following since 85′

    But, even looks aside, if you want to drive one everyday, the Miata wins:

    http://www.caranddriver.com/comparisons/3240/mazda-mx-5-miata-vs-toyota-mr2-spyder.html

  • avatar
    Joe Chiaramonte

    I will, however, back down on my committed Miata stance enough to say that I don’t care as much for the Mk3 MX-5. I can overlook the weird nose. It still shifts and handles like a champ, and it speaks to me in the same language as my Mk2. The trunk is more useable than the admittedly prettier Sky, but the opening seems narrower than mine.

    The passenger compartment feels a bit shrunk, passenger-side legroom is shorter, the gratuitous use of hard plastic has created a bingo ball rattle-cage over rough surfaces, and what the hell is with the new sun visors? Cereal box tops feel more substantial.

    There, I hope you’re happy.

  • avatar
    dean

    Now we have this Solstice/Sky, which not only beats Miata on performance, but also makes it look like a 2-seater Aztek when it comes to styling. The second they figure out the folding top problem, Miata is doomed.

    If GM sticks to pattern the MX-5 will be another update ahead before they get to it, though. And in the usual fashion it will be too little, too late.

    If anyone thinks Mazda is going to roll over and concede the segment, I think they are mistaken.

    Personally I can’t imagine owning a Solstice/Sky or an MX-5 given my driving needs. As a previous poster suggested I own a sportbike and can smoke just about everything on four wheels. (Not that I do silly stuff like that.) I can’t afford anything that wouldn’t feel slow next to my bike, so I don’t bother. My cars are strictly utilitarian.

    That said, I think both the Solstice and the Sky are frickin’ beautiful. The MX-5 is merely attractive. But you know that ol’ saw about beauty being skin deep…

  • avatar
    taxman100

    The Sky and Soltice are just pups – give them some time to refine the platform.

    Of course, just about the time the Fiero was where it should be, they pulled the plug.

    I used to own a Miata – I have to be honest and say I never understood why it was so highly regarded – just not my cup of tea. I sold it and bought a 67 Ford Galaxie 500 XL convertible, and never looked back.

  • avatar
    chaz_233

    Not surpising for TTAC, regardless of who the author listed on top of the page is, this car “review” is filled with editorialising and lacks, well, a review of the car. Are these folks actually driving the cars at all or just taking it for a spin around the dealership’s block?

  • avatar
    1984

    Anything that can run with a Z4 and a 350Z is more than an just sheetmetal. Or maybe Jehovah would totally slam the 350Z too. It could just be his preferences. -Cowbell

    This just about sums it up.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    taxman100:

    u traded a miata for a 67 Ford Galaxie 500 XL convertible? wow. they couldn’t possible be more different.

    maxhedrm:

    I spent a summer day with the top down in a TT. the drive was along the delaware river north of new hope, pa. to the Delaware Water Gap. A wonderfull trip.

    The TT is, well, how do i say it, not really a sports car. Its powerfull, and nice to be in, but i had the feeling i was in my Golf with the the top off (this is a good thing, i love my golf). Maybe its too boosted, maybe you sit too low it the cockpit, maybe the windshield comes too far back, i dunno. It worked fine, the top was easy to do, it was really cool to look at when i was outside of it, but it never stirred my soul. Perhaps I wasn’t pushing it hard enough, i dunno. It was a borrowed car.

    I wish there were cheap Italian ragtops here. I’ve had more fun in those then any other car ever.

  • avatar
    Matthew Potena

    Having owned a 1991 and an S2000, I feel qualified to comment on this review. I have always loved small 2 seat roadsters (also owned a Boxster S). The Miata was not designed to be a stop light drag car. It had a beautifully neutral chassis that was easy to slide as well as easy to control. The fit and finish were impeccable. In 4 years of ownership the only problems I had were the radio power button failing, and in 10 degree weather, the plastic rear window cracked. Both problems were fixed under warranty. With the S2000, it was all about the mad engine and incredible roadholding. Again, the fit and finish were first rate, with litterally zero problems in 3 years of ownership. While not in the market for a Miata/Sky type of car, I have certainly looked at both of them. I think the Sky has some of the best looks on any car on the market today (top down). But the top is incredible ugly and the lack of trunk space is inexcuseable (I used my Miata as my daily driver, and could even fit in a Sunday golf bag in the trunk. The top of the new Miata, whether the fabric or the hard top, makes Sky’s top look silly. The interior plastics are totally cheap, especially when compared to the latest Miata. What disappoints me the most is that this is the typical GM attempt at a car. The looks are good, it posts decent numbers for acceleration, etc., but scratch the surface and you notice that as a whole, the car disappoints. The engine is agricultural compared to the S2000, the ride when not on a track disappoints and I expect numerout GM rattles and buzzes. Is there anyone on here would would bet against the Miata as a more reliable car, or that it will outlive the Sky? GM needs to finish the car (better top, better suspension, smoother engine, better plastics) before this car becomes the first Fiero of the 21st century.

  • avatar
    kc2glox

    The S2k trounces the kappas head to head. Fit & Finish, performance, and livability, and oh yeah, its a Honda. I use mine as a commuter (except when it rains, its black and I hate getting it dirty) and on weekend trips. For a two seater, its not hard to live with. I will say that at 6′ and 175lbs, I am about as big as you want to be and still fit in it. And I loved reading the manual and telling the wife that it said no fat chicks (400lbs, occupants & luggage, MAX). I can live with that!

  • avatar
    1984

    Are you guys having fun convincing yourselves that the kappa turbo does not look good, does not run a high 13 1/4, does not have a full coilover suspension and does not cost under 30?

    Say it isn’t so! GM has to suck!

  • avatar
    kaisen

    Matthew Potena-

    Your fond rememberances of the 1991 Miata do not translate to the new MX5. Say what you will, but it has grown 15% in weight and is no longer the lithe playmate your 91 was. The plastics aren’t even as nice in the new car.

    The SKY has acceptable interior materials, as good as the MX5 or S2000. The Solstice dash isn’t quite as nice. None of these are Audis or Lexi.

    The top sucks, and the manual top on the MX5 is slick, but sits on top of the rear cowl and needs a soft tonneau to finish it off (as does the S2000’s power top). The SKY folds completely out of sight and, as a result, takes up trunk space. Function following form.

    The suspension in either Kappa is up to MX5 and S2000 standards. Maybe you need to drive them back to back to back on the same roads as I have. The S2000 is approved by the International Chiropractors Association. The MX5 is fun, but doesn’t have the performance of the GXP/Redline. Car and Driver wrote of the base Solstice vs MX5: “Ride: The MX-5 feels wispy and light on its feet, but the Solstice’s stiffer suspension still manages to sop up the bumps while feeling more planted. Advantage: Solstice. Handling: Both have handling limits that are substantial yet easy to probe. Approach the limits in the MX-5, and the softer suspension never quite settles down. The light-footed ride gives the MX-5 a delicate character. The Solstice trades that featheriness for a secure, buttoned-down feel at the limit. Comparatively narrow summer tires on the MX-5 stick and then break away; the Solstice’s wider all-season rubber loses grip more gradually. Advantage: Solstice.”

    C&D also called the base engines ‘a draw’. The SKY turbo version, however, is smoother and quieter and insanely powerful. When Mazdaspeed puts the MS3’s similar direct-injection turbo in the Miata, maybe we’ll have a real duel.

  • avatar
    kaisen

    The S2000 is a great track car, but is a horrid daily driver (compared to a Kappa turbo). I’d be happy to expand if anyone cares to hear it.

    I’ll give you a hint though: at 2700 rpm the S2000 makes 65hp and 122lb-ft to the wheels. The SKY Redline makes 135hp and 248lb-ft to the wheels at the exact same rpm. (Looks like double the power to me) You have to rev the snot out of the S2000, which is great on the track, but hard to do on the street.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Kaisen – the NC’s (06-) soft top does make its own tonneau, unlike NA (89-97) and NB (98-05).

    122lb-ft to the wheels at 2700 is horrible? What does that mean for my 10 year old Miata, which has even less? I guess that means my daily driver is a total disaster! Nobody will want it anyway, except for those dang Spec Miata racers.

    BTW, a 4.5cu ft trunk does hold a week’s grocery for a single guy. Having a convertible helped sort through first dates really quickly. “Top up or top down?” Wrong answer = probably no second date. Now that I’m old and married, the only drawback is that my vintage (94-97) doesn’t have an airbag shutoff, so can’t carry any kids, have to resort to the minivan.

  • avatar
    kaisen

    Kaisen – the NC’s (06-) soft top does make its own tonneau, unlike NA (89-97) and NB (98-05).

    Kind of. The fabric top and deep well are still exposed to the elements, it just folds down further.

    Point taken on the Miata power levels, but you didn’t pay for S2000 performance either. In normal driving there isn’t much power difference between a Miata and S2000.

  • avatar
    Somethingtosay

    1984,
    You are sorely outnumbered, but you are sadly correct. This is not about the “finish” of the Kappas or even–despite the Tourette-sian repetitiveness of many posters above–about the “lack of trunk space”.
    GM has to lose.

    After all the fizz had died down, this review has said absolutely nothing others haven’t about the car. Or maybe I’ve missed something.

    Maybe it comes as a surprise to people who have convinced themselves that “non-domestic=perfect” that the Kappas could do with some improvement.
    But what cars cannot be improved?
    Which vehicles have absolutely no shortcomings at all?

    All this brouhaha is about a “finicky” manual folding top? Trunk space?
    It is at times like these that I slow down and inquire about what is really going on here.

    And by the time we got to the “girlfriend”, the review just about fell apart. Or did it?
    Is this about the merits of the car at the given price in a particular segment? Or about the reactions of others to the things (“cough–brands?”) we choose to drive?

    Something tells me this is not about “storage” at all.

  • avatar
    kc2glox

    S2k a horrible daily driver? Try living with out a trunk for awhile. The S2k engine has two modes, daily driving mild mannered Civic (Under 6000), and hella VTEC above. Literally my silver haired grandmother has enjoyed driving it.
    Admittedly I have had the thing for 6mos (no tickets yet :-), and truly just learning how to take full advantage of the powercurve in traffic and on curves. Launching it the first time was honda simple. The powered lid on the honda is also waterproof, 6 sec’s to drop. The lack of a trunk on a vehicle as big as that would be a deal breaker for me. Choosing between dropping the top or dropping the luggage is ridiculous. Form over function, for some. Or if you just have to buy domestic.

  • avatar
    larryj

    wait. so i could buy a used LOTUS elise for a few more ducats than a SATURN 2 seater w/ no storage? and it’s a question? since I’m in the market for a Jetta wagon I find this whole discussion amusing. now, which 35K toy do I want again? right. the lotus.

  • avatar
    kaisen

    Just hope your hella VTEC doesn’t occur WOT at the apex or you’re gonna be introduced to the armco and be hella mad

  • avatar
    Somethingtosay

    # larryj:
    November 1st, 2006 at 2:49 pm

    wait. so i could buy a used LOTUS elise for a few more ducats than a SATURN 2 seater w/ no storage? and it’s a question? since I’m in the market for a Jetta wagon I find this whole discussion amusing. now, which 35K toy do I want again? right. the lotus.

    Just let me know when you source that (no doubt easily available) Lotus for $35,000.

    The word I bolded above (you put it all in uppercase, significantly), is the operating principle here.
    You are looking for any excuse not to be seen in a domestic –especially a Saturn (gasp!).

    Something tells me you’d never say the same thing in a Miata discussion. Of course being in the market for a Jetta, it couldn’t possibly be because you think domestics are “unreliable”. So that leaves image.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that…(to borrow a phrase). But exactly what, then, is TTAC about?
    If the major problem with “domestics” is that they are “uncool” (even when good on the merits), how can they win?

  • avatar
    larryj

    easy fella. didn’t mean to rankle your patriotism gland. as for the price of the lotus, um, ebay? theyr’e there. buyitnow baby.

    I’m just saying for visceral thrills and a pile of cash why wouldn’t I go all the way to a Lotus? I would, if I wasn’t buying a station wagon.

    as for the domestics…make a decent station wagon and I’ll buy it. but that’s not the point here.

  • avatar
    Somethingtosay

    Who called “patriot”?
    Anti-domesticism is ridiculous all on its own; regardless of how I (or anybody else) feels about the country.

    The Lotus would be a great car to own–and given its legendary reputation, I too would pick it over the Sky, if only to experience what people say can only be simulated in a go-kart or a Miata.

    But if I were to choose the more readily-available (and practical) Sky, I wouldn’t feel as if I had “settled”. That the Sky is a “SATURN” wouldn’t turn me off so much as the fact that the Lotus is “storied” would intrigue me.

  • avatar
    GMrefugee

    What I would love to know and never seems to get answered within these test drive/reviews:

    How well would a “regular joe or jane” perceive the vehicle’s driving dynamics? Sure, include the high performance stuff as well but tell me if it does normal stuff well or not.

    Or not.

  • avatar
    larryj

    somethingtosay-

    fair enough!

    and i would add that I’m always pleased when the domestics try something like this in contrast to, say, yet another big SUV.

  • avatar
    Hutton

    If the major problem with “domestics” is that they are “uncool” (even when good on the merits), how can they win?

    They can’t.

    They have to be as good (or better) and also be “cool”. The market is just that tough. Cool, or image holds a lot of weight especially with cars, so if a company won’t compete in that arena, they simply won’t compete.

  • avatar
    ktm

    Somethingtosay and 1984, you both failed to see the point regarding the ‘storage’ issue. Nearly every other two-seat convertible has enough storage to take the car on a weekend getaway. You can use them as a daily driver without worrying about where you are going to put your computer case. The car is a toy, nothing more, and a useless one at that.

    Toys should offer unheralded performance to make up for their lack of practicality. Does the Sky or Solstice offer such performance? Um, NO.

    The same argument can be applied to its finicky rag top. Sure other cars have finicky tops, but they offer a modicum of practicality. Those that are not as practical, usually have the performance to offset the minor foibles. Again, does the Sky or Solstice offer enough performance to offset its drawbacks?

    Stop talking about the Redline. You two keep referring strictly to the Redline model. Yes, this review is of the model, but remember most of the sales will be of the regular versions, much like a bulk of the Mustang sales comprise the V-6 models and not the GT.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    you should not need to endanger your driving license, or the lives of others in order to have fun in a car.

  • avatar

    On the Lotus Elise: drive one before thinking you might like to live with one. I drive a Mazda Protege5, a fairly rough, noisy car. I’m not too picky about ride quality or noise levels.

    Well, even after reading about the car I was still shocked by how minimalist the Elise is. The interior is extremely spartan, even flimsy. The seats don’t have much in the way of padding. It is loud. And it is rough.

    After that test drive, my P5 felt like a Lincoln Navigator in nearly every way.

    In short, while I don’t focus much on comfort, I cannot imagine using an Elise as a daily driver. A Honda S2000 is a Lexus in comparison.

    On the Saturn, I slammed the top and driving position in my TTAC review some months back. Seems they haven’t yet added a height adjuster to the seat. Not much they can do about the top.

    That review:
    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=157

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Let’s not forget the used Boxster as competiton for every other sub-35k roadster. C&D did (vs. Solstice GXP), and guess which car they preferred? The GXP did have the faster lap time thanks to the turbo, of course.

    http://www.caranddriver.com/comparisons/11605/2007-pontiac-solstice-gxp-vs-2006-porsche-boxster.html

  • avatar
    kaisen

    Toys should offer unheralded performance to make up for their lack of practicality. Does the Sky or Solstice offer such performance? Um, NO.

    Am I alone thinking that zero-to-sixty in low-to-mid five seconds, lap times quicker than a Boxster or 350Z, and 130hp/L with 100K mile powertrain warranty are not ‘unheralded’ in a $30K two-seat roadster!?

  • avatar
    Hoosier Red

    As much as you may hate to admit this, the fact that you are mentioning a used Porsche in the same sentence as a Pontiac is a victory for the General. Argue the merits of the vehicle – and hopefully GM will continue to sweat the details and refine the hell out of them – but the fact that we are having a serious discussion about something from Detroit at least proves they have the capacity to be relevant.

  • avatar
    Hutton

    ^Good point. It’s certainly a start for Detroit.

  • avatar
    Ryan

    It shows GM’s flawed thinking though, that they let the Sky and Solstice get to production with some of these flaws. Inasmuch as it’s great that they’re available, it wouldn’t have caused great harm to GM if they’d given the two cars an extra year of development time before they went on sale. As it is, they seem about 90% done, and that last ten percent is just a little crucial given that these cars were born with the stigma of being both domestics and GMs (not to mention that the Sky will be sharing showroom space with the Ion).

    I get the feeling that they were both designed with certain specific criteria in mind (re. simple numerical figures), and once those specific points were met, it was declared ready, damn the side effects.

  • avatar
    Hoosier Red

    Ryan,
    Seriously? Do you really think Ford and GM have another year to wait? They may not meet your concept of automotive perfection, but how many cars has the General produced lately with waiting lists? The General (at least on the kappas) deserves a “well done – now get back to work on them.” They need real cars in real dealerships really fast….or maybe even a year ago!

  • avatar
    Somethingtosay

    People would be laughing at GM if they brought out the Kappas now–especially since they don’t make any money on them.
    It’d surely be the theme of a “Deathwatch” or two.

  • avatar
    Ryan

    Well, I see the need for halo cars, but the Solstice and Sky do not inhabit a market where quick timing is quite so important. I mean, the Miata has been around for about 17 years, most other roadsters have about ten under their belts, given how long it’s taken for GM to make something, I’m not sure another year would’ve noticably hurt more.

    Unless GM shows continual improvement, any flaw these cars have will only undermine their credibility. As I said, GM is fighting its own reputation with every car it builds, good enough isn’t going to cut it. As for the waiting lists, I’d write that off as initial hype. I’m more interested to see how sales will be in a year.

  • avatar
    Hoosier Red

    I’m not saying the kappas are the final answer, but nobody can argue that the kappas haven’t generated positive attention for the General. People have taken notice of a Pontiac and a Saturn who would have never looked at those brands in the past. I’m not saying these cars will make anyone want to buy one of GM’s minivans, but at least acknowledge that these represent a credible effort. Write it off as initial hype if you must, but I’ll take that over the alternative.

  • avatar
    nweaver

    The problem is the Solstice/Sky are “Almost Cars”. My GF and I want a toy car, a good handling 2-seat roadster.

    But we want to be able to run with the top down and fit enough in the trunk for a 2-day trip. Or groceries in the trunk and passanger seat. A toy car is not JUST a toy, but should still be useful.

    The Miata just has too girly a reputation for the GF. (Me, I love it, an utter piece of insanity when driven right, yet with a very nice softop and enough practicality to be a day-to-day-car).

    The Sky is absolutely gorgeous. We were within INCHES of buying one. But the awful top and trunk and horrid ergoromics have resulted in an instant veto. An Elise is more practical!

    So we’ll probably just have to save up more and get an S2000.

  • avatar

    Two words: used Boxster. OK, three: used Boxster S.

  • avatar
    1984

    Get a Used C5 Corvette convertable…

    Insert whatever used car you want , the “used” argument is silly. Besides, why is a Boxster in any decent shape selling for sub 30K when they cost 50K a year ago from new? Do they really depreciate that fast?

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Next on TTAC: Sajeev reviews the best used cars in Houston, or something like that. And a few pre-owned Ford Crown Vic Police Interceptors, too.

    More seriously, how about some writeups about older or more historic cars?

  • avatar
    middleNameIsEarl

    “Two words: used Boxster. OK, three: used Boxster S”

    Two more words: Boxter Owners. There are a number of used cars I’d love to own, not one of which I want to be the second owner of. Any Porsche is near the top of that list. What percentage of Boxters are either a.) driven by Paris Hilton types that consider them as disposable as a Bic pen (and probably never bring them for maintenance even once) or b.) are flogged like used Soviet jets? I know there are responsible Porsche owners out there, but I’ll save this game of Russian roulette for when I absolutely want a Spinach salad, thank you.

  • avatar
    kaisen

    I think you’d find the Porsche treatment/ maintenance to be wholly untrue. They have the heel to pay up at the dealer, and they do. Most Porsches I see on the road are driven by 50 year old dentists, and driven like their Lexus … except for the top-down-with-a-golf-cap smile on their face.

  • avatar
    Alex Rashev

    Alright, now that I think about it, the only time I used trunk in my MR2 is when I had to drive a hundred pounds worth of Sentra parts (whatever valuable and easily removable things I could take off of it). For everything else… THE PASSENGER SEAT. I mean, seriously, how often do you carry a passenger AND a filing cabinet at the same time? If you need to do that, plan your time better.

    Driving with a passenger, but got some luggage? Groceries? Easy, have your passenger put that stuff on his/her lap, that’s what I do. Works EVERY TIME. If they’re too wuss to do that, get a different car. Or a different passenger.

    Going for a 800-mile road trip and want to bring camping gear? Buy a friggin Impreza. It’ll get you to your camping site easier, too. I mean, I wish my motorbike could haul TV’s tied to the back seat, then life would be super-fun and easy, right? Not.

    It’s like those people who buy an Esprit thinking it’ll be their ultimate Lexus. And then they bitch about how stiff the ride is, how it spins out when making sudden turns, blah blah blah. Then Lotus relaxes suspension, dials in some understeer, and (urgh) puts a smooth but heavy TT V8 in it. Good job, we have a ghost of what the car could have been, all thanks to the same kind of people who want a trunk and a 12 inch DVD screen in their britishesque roadster.

    The day I’ll see a Ferrari with a matress tied to the top, towing a trailer, on a dirt road, my belief in people’s ability to be moderately reasonable will disappear completely. Something tells me that someday it’ll happen.

  • avatar
    kaisen

    There is a very serious autocrosser who drives his Solstice to each event with a little trailer full of race tires and tools, unhooks the trailer, kicks some ass on the track, then hooks up his little trailer and goes home… with a trophy.

  • avatar
    glenwood

    To all the MR2 bashers: The MK III MR2 was the only toyota that had anything remotely resembling a soul during its production run, and was the only toyota I would have considered owning.

  • avatar
    Joe Chiaramonte

    Alex,

    I guess we just disagree on how many vehicles we need to own.

    the only time I used trunk in my MR2 is when I had to drive a hundred pounds worth of Sentra parts

    Sorry, I like my leather seats too much to dump used car parts on them.

    Driving with a passenger, but got some luggage? Groceries? Easy, have your passenger put that stuff on his/her lap, that’s what I do.

    Recent scenes with my Miata vs. your MR2 (or Sky or Solstice):

    4 hour scenic top-down drive to Sierra foothills, bring tools to install faucet, hang new blinds, general household repairs, bring weekend bag for 2, bring home 16 bottles of wine.

    My car – put it all in the trunk.*
    Your car – place on wife’s lap, or bring different vehicle.

    Today: Bring golf clubs to work for mid-day “meeting” at driving range.

    My car – put them in the trunk.
    Your car – place bag in passenger seat (enjoy the cacophony), brace arm on bag during tight curves, or bring different vehicle.

    This weekend, bring weekend bag for two and rain-proof outerwear on scenic (weather permitting) top-down drive to Sonoma. Have room for 12-18 bottles of wine.

    My car – put it all in the trunk, with room to spare.
    Your car – place on wife’s lap, or bring different vehicle.

    I don’t want to make assumptions about your lifestyle, but to me, it feels like you missed out on the full enjoyment of your (trunk-less) roadster.

    * – This was an especially challenging trip, since there’s no garbage pick-up at the cabin. We had to truck a large garbage bag and three sets of blinds (up to 72″ long) to the local dump before heading home. My wife is about a 1 on the “persnickety” 10-scale, but there’s no way I’d ask her to carry the trash on her lap. I did need to bungee the trunk lid for the dump run (fudging, I know).

    We did look a bit like the Clampett’s until the dump run was complete, though. Wish I’d gotten pictures.

  • avatar
    middleNameIsEarl

    Back when I had a mk.II Miata, I could take my girlfriend, a dogs and all our luggage between Boston and New York on a near weekly basis. It was painless. Granted the dog weighed 18 pounds, and could sit shoulder high on the shelf behind us. 300-500 miles trips were no more of a problem than backroad twists and turns, and it ate those right up. No second car required. Given the option to own an Elise, I’d dump the girlfriend and shoot the dog. The Sky doesn’t quite get me to that point of concession.

  • avatar
    Alex Rashev

    When my lifestyle required hauling boxes full of alcohol (beer in my case), I had an 86 Stanza. Did much better at keeping that stuff from breaking, with its soft suspension and roadholding of a shopping cart. Nautrally, it had a downside of being an obscure family sedan, although I must admit it was a fun time-machine, being an immaculate example.

    Now I don’t need to lug around 60-liter beer kegs anymore, and a 12-pack or two fit just fine in the passenger footwell. Living in an apartment, my transportation needs are pretty simple. And when I’ll have a household that requires trash disposal and Home Depot runs, I’ll sell my F-body and build myself the redneck’s wet dream, a big-block El Camino. If I can afford 3-400K for a house, I can afford to throw in another ~$10k for a pickup truck, I think.

    As for leather seats, anyone getting those does not have practicality in mind to begin with. Leather needs constant care, or else it cracks, rips and fades; and even then, you’ll still have sweaty ass on hot days, unless you like to enjoy your hot days with A/C and top up :)

    BTW, my MkI has more cargo capacity than any Miata, and the benefit of having a nice mouse-fur-covered trunk (for “nice” goods) and plastic-laden frunk (for tools and crap). I just barely ever use it – why put things in the trunk when you can just throw them on the seat, or into the footwell. Saves you a trip to the trunk :)

    Either way, roadster’s enjoyment lies in roaring engine, open top, and kidney-tearing lateral g-forces. Any cargo or passengers only hamper it, period.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    I would LOVE to buy a used boxter, i am TERRIFIED about fixing the mid engine.

  • avatar
    kaisen

    I would LOVE to buy a used boxter, i am TERRIFIED about fixing the mid engine.

    Earlier Boxsters had big problems with failing rear main seals (RMS). Do a search and you’ll find lots of unhappy Porsche owners.

  • avatar
    ktm

    kaisen, unheralded…look the word up. A Lotus Elise offers unheralded performance. A Solstice Redline does not.

    Second, you are quoting out of context. Does its performance make up for the lack of practicality and elements of poor design (finicky top for instance)?

  • avatar
    kaisen

    appearing without warning or prior announcement; unexpected.

    So you didn’t expect the Elise to perform well? But you did expect it of the Solstice GXP (SKY Redline)?

    Does its performance make up for the lack of practicality and elements of poor design (finicky top for instance)?

    Given the price, yes.

  • avatar

    Great review, you are totally spot on too. I saw 2 black Sky’s (I guess that is how you would go about it) and they were f-ing beautiful. I also saw a silver one and wasn’t as impressed. I’m sad to hear that everything else about them is not as good. Too bad as this car looks amazing.

  • avatar
    nino

    I’m sorry, but a two seat roadster that’s used as a weekend “toy”, absolutely needs to have some kind of carrying capacity. While it doesn’t need to haul 2x4s, it should be able to carry an overnight bag for two.

    This and the horrible top, is the main reason we crossed the Solstice (Sky) off the list.

    However, the 260HP GXP with the automatic was awfully enticing since my wife can’t drive a stick. Paddle shifters would’ve been nice.

  • avatar
    finger

    If the sky and solstice hard power tops and similar space to the miata all would be forgiven. I’d take a used z4 over it any day. Pretty will get you far but only so far.

    Those BMW’s are horiffically UGLY!

    I wonder if the SKY had a Toyota nameplate would it receive the same review?

  • avatar
    roadsterguy

    1. To the guy that points out the Sky’s autocross dominance: So you agree with the reviewer. The Sky is very good on smooth and unblemished asphault.

    2. It’s a shame that there is no trunk and that the top is so impractical. Those 2 factors prevent it from being the only car that someone owns. I own a Miata. I’ve taken my girlfriend on a road trip that involved camping. The trunk was packed to the brim, but we fit a cooking stove, tent, sleeping bags and clothes in the trunk.

    3. The Sky Red Line would be my next car if it wasn’t for the lack of trunk space and dumb top design. Hopefully Pontiac and Saturn figure out how to properly build a roadster (easy to use top, place the gas tank in an area that doesn’t kill the trunk space, give it a great shifter, great feedback in the steering wheel, etc…) before the next Sky and Solstice come out. I’d like to buy American, especially when it looks this amazing, but Mazda has perfected the roadster while GM is still trying to figure it out.

  • avatar
    Adam

    Well Im glad to say that Im on a waiting list for a Sky redline and couldnt be happier. Sure putting down the top manually sucks but when Im done its all sealed up and hidden away. I test drove other cars but when it was all said and done they werent that much faster and didnt handle much better than my daily driver. If I didnt have the sky as a choice I would have taken the S2000.

    Im also fairly confident that I can pack a weekends worth of clothes for 2 in the trunk. Its really quite possible if you have a look. Of course im not the sweater around my neck yuppie type with 8 changes of clothes for the weekend and 3 cases of wine to bring home at the end.

    I just like to drive a convertible on the weekends

  • avatar
    leprohon

    So I own a Sky Redline (let’s state that up front since it probably biases me). I read this review and thought is was very misleading. First, the roof is not a pain. It takes me all of 30 seconds to get it down and packed up (better than many automatic roofs, especially in a T-storm). The performance is great. I have owned an Audi A6 turbo and a Porsche Boxter, and this is much better than both. As for trunk room, it does not have a ton, but I put a carryon luggage bag and a large back pack in it for my last trip no problem. You just need to put the bags in first and then put the roof down (not one post has a person even trying to put bags in, just assuming you cannot). I think the reviewer had a lemon, but I have had none of the issues posted. As for hot women, heads turn when I drive by and it is certainly not because of me. The styling is awesome. My biased two cents.

  • avatar
    leprohon

    As a follow up, I looked for the "Foam cubes" mentioned in the article this morning and I did not find them on my car. My guess is they were from shipping the car and the dealer forgot to remove them. Also, I remember my wife stalled my car a few times the first time she drove it (you have to give it some gas with a manual transmission). Maybe this is why the car "stalled" when the author drove it. 

  • avatar
    GMis4GoodManners

    There is some myth that the Sky has a smaller trunk than the MX5 (or Honda S2000 for that matter).

    According to Polk:

    Sky: 5.4 cu ft (with top up – they DO quantify)
    MX5: 5.3 cu ft
    S2000: 5.0 cu ft

    mind you, shape is a whole nother story – the sky trunk is such that it’s not a usable 5.4 cu ft….

    And kudos for Mazda for a hard top that takes ZERO more space than the soft top – something none of the other makers have managed.

    Of course, if you want a roadster that has a usable trunk, try the MB SLK – it has a hole 9.8 cu ft of trunk space (although the Sky could run rings around it at almost half the price).

  • avatar
    Loveitall

    Well I’m about 2 years late to this site, but did want to follow up. I have a 2008 Saturn Sky Redline. I put on a Magna-flow exhaust system, a GM Cold Air Box, racinmg stripes and vertical doors. Also had it Dynatuned by Tony at HPPerformance in Orange Park, FL. The HP is now close to 300, the boost hits 24.5 and the tourque at the rear wheels is 294.70 with 245.23 HP. This car screams! I have no problem with the top and have bought (for $130 E-bay) a 3-pc monogramed luggage set that fits in the trunk with the top down. Women LOVE this car!! I think you should re-visit it.

  • avatar
    MortallyWounded

    “You can’t trust anything you read on the Internet.”

    -Abraham Lincoln

  • avatar
    gordo8

    I bought a sky red line in Oct./12 and this car is very hot[ I think it was imported from Europe as the car fax report stated imported] this Sky will go from 0 to 100 miles per hr. in 5.5 sec..I had a dino test done last week and the rear wheels [ pose track ] are pushing 225 HP per wheel. Does anyone in the this club know about Sky that where made in Germany by Opel? Thanks Gordo

    • 0 avatar
      TheCarrier

      The GM Kappa line was built in Wilmington Delaware and sold as the Sky and Solstice in the US, the Opel GT in Europe, and another name through Daewoo [sp?] in Korea.

      Sky is listed as 0-60 in 5.5 seconds, not 0-100.

      Go to Skyroadster.com and Kappaperformance.com to meet the experts on these fine cars.

      • 0 avatar
        gordo8

        Hi just looked it up and opal did make a car similar to the sky that was super charged and there upper model was pushing a lot of HP and this car was imported, does not look like a sky made by Saturn. And it will do 0 to 160 KM in 5.5 sec. it has been clocked and soon will run it on the quarter mile and see what time it does. Lets put it this way a 5L mustang it killed was no contest. Thanks Gordo


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