Let's face it. Most entry-level cars are basically the same. This automotive
parity is perfect for producing good performance and reliability across all models, but it
doesn't bode well for drivers looking for something different, perhaps a little off the
wall. That's why Saturn exists.
If you don't count styling, every difference between today's
bread-and-butter transportation - like the Civic, Focus, Cavalier and Sentra - is subtle
and subjective. Their power, handling and features all vary some, but if you did a
soda-style, blindfolded comparison, few drivers could tell the Civic from the Sentra, or
the Focus from the Cavalier.
Since its start in the early '90s, Saturn has tried to offer
affordable cars that don't follow the rest of the pack. They had plastic bodies that
avoided dents like Rubbermaid storage bins, unconventional cabins that were both exciting
and practical, and an award-winning dealer network praised for its no-hassle pricing.
Only problem: Saturn was the red-headed stepchild of General Motors.
While other brands got new models every four years or so, Saturn's first cars were left
basically unchanged for more than a decade.
That's where the Ion comes in. As a replacement for Saturn's
successful yet12-year-old S-series, it will carry much of the brand's future success on
its plastic shoulders. Yes, it has the same dent-resistant polymer body and huggable
styling from its predecessors, plus it has features that set it apart - way apart, in come
cases - from the entry-level pack.
For starters, there's the four-door "Quad Coupe." Whether
or not a four-door coupe can exist is still a matter of debate, but one thing's certain:
it looks sporty and doesn't sacrifice much practicality like a true two-door coupe would.
Simply stated the innovative Quad Coupe offers the practicality of a sedan with the sporty
look of a coupe.
To do this, it has two rear-swinging doors that provide access to
the back seat, and they can only be opened if the front doors are open first for safety.
There's no "B" pillar either, so opening both front and rear doors is like
peering inside the Astrodome for the first time and marveling at how sturdy it is without
a field of pillars holding up the roof.
Then there's the instrument panel in the center of the dash, not
directly in front of the driver like in traditional American cars. While it takes some
getting used to, it provides a better view of the road than traditional gauges and lets
everyone in the car see how fast they're traveling - perfect for back-seat drivers.
Best of all, there's an available goodie that no other car in the
Ion's price range offers: a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Usually found in
more expensive cars, the CVT is an automatic transmission that never shifts gears. Not
only does it produce perfectly smooth acceleration, it gets improved gas mileage because
it offers an infinite number of "gears" - not just four or five - through some
mysterious process, quite possibly black magic.
This new Saturn also comes with what is probably the best
four-cylinder engine GM has ever produced, the 2.2-liter Ecotec. The 16-valve,
dual-overhead-cam design that makes 137 horsepower, an excellent figure for entry-level
cars, while remaining relatively quiet and smooth.
Take a test drive today and experience the new engine and CVT
transmission for yourself, and if you have always liked Saturns, then youre
going to just love the new Ion 3 Quad Coupe.