The 2009 Saturn Sky is, first and foremost, a good-looking car. Even as the model enters its third year of production, the Sky still manages to turn heads. For the majority of potential owners, that alone is worth the price of admission. When you consider that the Sky is also a competent and sporty ride at a reasonable price, it emerges as a viable alternative to the convertible Mini and Miata. As with the previous year, the mild base model is offered alongside the extra-spicy Sky Red Line.
All is not sunny and clear in this Sky, however. The manually operated convertible top and trunk form a long dark cloud over what is otherwise a generally successful execution. While manual tops are not a huge price to pay for al fresco driving, the Sky's top is unduly complicated. Accessing the trunk is similarly inconvenient, since the stowed convertible top occupies a sizable space under the rear deck lid. Another concern for the daily use of a Saturn Sky would be the model's poor reputation for reliability.
Assuming style is indeed the main factor driving sales of the Sky, many of the aforementioned faults could easily be overlooked. For those left wanting more performance, a laundry list of dealer-installed performance upgrades, from suspension to exhaust, should appease. The reliability issues looming overhead, however, should make potential roadster buyers pause to consider the nearly bulletproof and well-established Mazda Miata.
The 2009 Saturn Sky roadster comes in two variations: base and Red Line. Standard equipment on both Sky variants include 18-inch wheels, a glass window for the cloth soft top, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a six-speaker CD/MP3 audio system (with iPod connectivity later in the year) and satellite radio. The Sky Red Line comes with a turbocharged engine, a stiffer suspension and a limited-slip differential to handle the additional power from the turbo. Along with the significant performance upgrades, the super Sky Red Line also sports specialized interior and exterior trim pieces.
Major options include a seven-speaker 225-watt Monsoon audio system with in-dash CD changer, as well as a Premium Trim Package that includes leather seat inserts, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, metallic interior trim and steel pedal covers. Two limited-edition versions in Ruby Red and Hydro Blue come with new 18-inch split-spoke alloy wheels as well.
Like many roadsters, the 2009 Saturn Sky's diminutive exterior leads many to assume that the interior must be as inviting as a phone booth. Such is not the case with the Sky, as the cabin is surprisingly roomy, even for larger occupants. The base model's instrument panel is attractive and legible; the Red Line-specific dash is even more so. Seating is comfortable, with adequate side bolsters for spirited driving, although the transmission tunnel is unusually wide, which eliminates any possibility of center storage space and puts the squeeze on larger drivers. Nor will passengers find much to like about the quality of the interior plastics -- or lack thereof.
The Sky is also let down by a poorly designed top and a small trunk. Dropping the top requires the driver to unlatch it at the windshield, push a button in the glovebox and fold the whole thing down into the rear deck before forcibly slamming it shut. Graceful it's not -- especially when compared to the Miata's one-arm operation from the comfort of the driver seat. The Sky's trunk doesn't help its cause either, providing just 5.4 cubic feet of space with the top up and practically none with it down, along with an awkward lid that opens rearward.
The base-model Saturn Sky is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine producing 173 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque, while the upgraded Sky Red Line's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder pumps out an impressive 260 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Power is routed to the rear wheels via a five-speed manual transmission, while a five-speed automatic is available as an option. The base Sky and Red Line reach 60 mph from a standstill in 7.5 and 5.8 seconds, respectively.
According to the EPA, expected fuel economy for the base Saturn Sky is 19 mpg city/28 highway and 22 combined. Despite the added Red Line performance, the hopped-up version turns in respectable ratings of 19/25/21.
Living with the 2009 Saturn Sky as an everyday driver is easy, assuming you don't need a lot of cargo space. Ride quality is pleasant and highway cruising is more relaxed than in the Miata. The base 2.4-liter Sky should be enough to appease the casual driver, but for those looking for any degree of excitement, the turbocharged Red Line is the only choice.
The Sky is lively and spirited in the curves, understeering only when pushed hard. Unfortunately, the Sky's true potential is held in check by vague steering, an uninspired exhaust note and lazy throttle response, which prevents drivers from developing a strong connection to the car or feel for the road.
Standard safety equipment on the 2009 Saturn Sky includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, a passenger-sensing system for safer airbag operation and OnStar. Bluetooth hands-free calling is standard on the Red Line and an option for the base model. OnStar turn-by-turn navigation is also available as an option on either Sky model.
Just in case all of these features still don't manage to keep the roadster in pristine shape, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration awarded the Saturn Sky a rating of four out of five stars for frontal- and side-impact protection.
The 2009 Saturn Sky adds Bluetooth connectivity through OnStar, and a revised special-edition trim.