• Apr 13, 2006

In addition to the Outlook, Saturn also unveiled its new bread-and-butter mainstream sedan, the Aura. The L-Series replacement has successfully kept most of the cues from the concept vehicle that turned heads last season. That said, in-the-metal, we have to say we were collectively a little underwhelmed (both within the Autoblog ranks and out into the wider press corps). The problem? Along the bodysides, Saturn has reigned-in a lot of the visual aggressiveness along the bottom edge of the doors. What's more, up front the bumper cap is simply more timid, with plain horizontal elements replacing a honeycomb pattern, made markedly less pugnacious around the end vents (in the fog lamp area). Out back, the situation is much the same, with the concept's characterful center-exit exhausts ashcanned in favor of undistinguished outlets on each end.

(More impressions and photos inside-and-out after the jump)

As an aside, we found the selection of Korean rubber (Hankook Optimo) on the low-end maroon model to be a surprising selection, though we've heard plenty of good things about countrymen Kumho's discount-priced tires. The upmarket gray vehicle seen here ws fitted with Goodyear Eagles.

The interior, we are happy to report, is good stuff, with compelling switchgear feel, GM's ergonomically first-rate new corporate stereo (which we sampled in the Saab 9-5), and a chunky, smallish-diameter steering wheel. In upper trim specs (as with the gray XR seen in the photographs), the available burnt orange leather livens up the interior's...umm... aura, which can otherwise strike as a bit unimaginative. Steering wheel audio controls and rear seat audio controls in the center console further distinguish the uplevel XR. 

In lower rung spec, as with the maroon vehicle, the interior's transformation is significantly less exciting, but materials seem to be of reasonable quality, save the somewhat coarse seat fabric. We also hope that there will be another choice of trim other than the graining obviously culled from a forest of fake plastic trees. On the whole, the interior is a sizeable step forward for a General Motors vehicle in this pricepoint.

How will it drive? Watered-down exterior aside, we can't wait to find out.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 53 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Looks to be another big hit for Saturn. I don't know who's pulling the strings but Saturn is going from boring to kickass almost overnight. Who knew GM could turn things around so fast. Very impressive!
      • 8 Years Ago
      The heck is Saturn thinking!? Shows how all the best designing talent doesn't matter when you have stupid management.

      The concept was on an Acura level of styling execution. Sculpted aggressive lines that still looked luxurious. Now they screwed it up and turned it into a Hertz rental car. Tailights have been subtly tweaked to a less aggressive shape, and they killed the side fender lines. Comes to show why GM is in the rut it is now--"Product Man" Lutz isn't going to change anything.

      Does Camry and Accord get away with bland styling? Yes they do. But they also have the benefit of good reputation. Given the choice between a bland Saturn and bland Honda, people will go for the bland Honda. It'll take years for GM to gain back consumer trust, and mediocre executions like this won't help them.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'll drive one... when I rent a car on my vacation to florida this summer!
      SHAMEFUL GM
      • 8 Years Ago
      Saturn was unique with the polymer sides. No dents. If it gets scratched, no rust. Ever see the sides of a 10 year old Taurus? Rust city. Saturn may not have ruled with polymer, but they certainly didn't rust.
      I've had 3 Saturns, including 2 L200s. It was the polymer panels that made up for otherwise average cars. Now that's gone. In fact, they abandoned the L series before they even had a replacement. What did that say to Saturn customers? Wait for two years till we get around to offering you something else? Nice move GM cause my customer loyalty got canceled with the L series.
      Well, now they have metal. But here's the thing. That's not Saturn. It's Pontiac. And if I'm going to buy metal, then I'm going to buy an Accord or a Camry because their values don't plummet the way GMs do.
      Every Saturn I owned has a horn that was difficult to honk, to the point of it being dangerous. The Aura looks even more difficult. Saturn (and the rest of GM) also never made seats that were very comfortable and once again, the Aura seems to look that way too. What's with all that wrap-around plastic on the back of the front seats, and the rear seats looks vertical to the point of pain.
      I don't hate the interior styling, it's actually very much like the L series, just updated. But whatever, it's just a Pontiac now so who cares?
      The polymer panels weren't perfect but the idea was good enough that it deserved to be continued, improved and perfected, not abandonded in mid-stride. Cowards. You're getting what you deserve GM. In with Saturn, out with Oldsmobile, out with Saturn, back in with Oldsmobile. Only now it's called Saturn.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The faux wood look plastic running all over the center console (around the greyish lump of radio/hvac control) is definitely horrible. But also, thos aren't very good quality pictures. Difficult to tell how things will "feel". Maybe autobloggers should afford themseves one or two good SLR with a GOOD flash and an afternoon community college class on photography.

      I don't understand all that negative comments. Aura is based on that epsylon platform that's been around for a while (saab 9-3, chevy malibu, pontiac G6, vectra ...) so it's not surprising this one is kindof similar. Besides, this is a 4doorsedan, not exactly exciting.

      Where's the DOHC 3.6 from the concept? (the LY7)

      "...with compelling switchgear fear", hehehe.
      • 8 Years Ago
      From the shot from the driver's seat, it appears that the steering wheel will obscure the ignition switch. So if you are sitting any distance from the dash, then good luck on getting the key in the switch without scratching up the plastic around it while you're trying to find the hole. Plus, I don't think I like the idea of my keys hanging and rattling against the dash as I drive. The instrument cluster looks great if it's on a Lada. Otherwise they could have done better.
      The interior isn't horrible. It has its moments. I just wish the moment lasted longer. This car better be cheap otherwise why buy from a company on the verge of bankruptsy?
      Bring back polymer. You're just like everyone else now Saturn, except still not as good as GM needs to pull them out of the hole.
      • 8 Years Ago
      this is a car desing by opel :NOW THE SATURN WILL BE THE OPELS
      • 8 Years Ago
      #43 wrote:

      >>There is no reason a midsize sedan has to be a vanilla car. If they produce a Red Line version with the attributes of the concept, then they are selling out. A performance version is about just that, performance. Not about looking fast. Why can't the whole family look sporty? Some people might now want to pay the $5k premium for the extra 50hp and looks.

      Which I'm sure is what those dough-heads are thinking. "Let's make the non-Red Line look boring so that people are tempted to shell out the extra $5K!" Except, of course, only a loser would fall for that. Exactly how many people want to buy a performance version of a boring car? Anyway want a performance version of a Malibu? How many people would buy a performance version of a Cobalt? (Yes, I know - some do. I always feel sorry for them when I see them on the road. What in God's name are these people thinking????)

      Is the Mazda3 a successful car? Absolutely. If you buy the cheapest version on the lot, are you made to feel like you're driving a Hertz weekend special? Nope. It's simple, GM. Wake up. Please. For the sake of our North American pride, WAKE UP.
      BOBP
      • 8 Years Ago
      THE STANDARD INTERIOR LOOKS AN ALOT LIKE THE 2003 ACCORD I RODE IN LAST WEEK-END. TASTEFUL NOT NOT GROUND BREAKING. BUT THEN AGAIN, MOST MANUFACTURERS USUALLY GO VANILLA WITH THIER MID-SIZE ENTRIES.

      AS FAR AS THE WOOD GRAIN COMMENTS BELEIVE ME THE CAMRY AND ACCORD A FULL OF FAKE WOODGRAIN TOO. ALSO THEIR INTERIORS AND STYLING ARE PRETTY BORING. WHY ARE YOU GUYS ALWAYS APPLYING A DOUBLE STANDARD WHEN YOU COMMENT ON THE DOMESTIC INTERIORS. ALSO, THE LAST INTERATION OF THE L-SERIES HAD THE FAKE BRUSHED ALUMINUM LOOK AND IT LOOKED FAR WORSE THAN THE WOOD. I THINK WE NEED TO REMEMBER, THAT BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, AND I DON'T THINK THAT INTERIOR DESIGN ALONE WILL BE A DEAL BREAKER UNLESS IT IS UTTERLY GROUTESE. THIS INTERIOR IS NOT GROUTESE.

      WILL IT SELL? I THINK SO. SATURN NEEDS THIS CAR TODAY TO GET REPEAT BUYERS WHO HAVE PREVIOUSLY PURCHASED THEIR PRODUCTS. REMEMBER THEY ARE SELLING A LIFESTYLE MARKETING CONCEPT. IT THAT RESPECT THEY NEED THIS PRODUCT IN THE SHOW ROOM TODAY. THEY LOSE BUYERS EVERYDAY THAT NEED A MID-SIZE SATURN BUT CURRENTLY CAN'T BUY ONE SINCE THEY DISCONTINUED THE L-SERIES (BAD MOVE GM.)

      I'M WILLING TO BET THAT IF YOU TOK THE SATURN BADGE OFF THE CAR AND PUT A BIG H OR TOYOTA BADGE ON THE CAR YOU GUYS WOULD BE RAVING ABOUT IT.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Looks pretty good. This is just a bit of nit-picking, but the gauge surround looks like something you might see on a low end truck. Why didn't they use plastic with the same color and texture as they used on the center stack instead of that unmatched to any other panel ribbed effect?
      • 8 Years Ago
      The front end looks like the cross between an Impala and an Accord; in other words, boring. The back end isn't too inspiring either. Its design doesn't project the upscale image that GM is supposedly aiming for, especially the dashboard. Why would a Passat or TSX buyer cross-shop this car? How is this car a step up from a Cobalt, Malibu or G6? Is this really the new and improved GM?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Judging by most of the comments, it is obvious that many of you are simply hoping that GM fails. To hell with the home team!

      Anyway, the Aura appears to be a very nice car. The exterior is a helluva lot more aggressive than the new Camry, Accord and Sonata. Sure, not as appealing as the concept, but what production car is? The Accord? Judging by appearance only, it's interior is world class at the anticipated price point (too much fake wood, for sure). Also, I understand that satin metal finish and and gloss black (i.e. Fusion) will also be offered.

      I will reserve my final judgment until I see and drive one in person, but if it is anything like the Opel, then the imports will have a fight on their hands! The dealer experience at Saturn is so much better than Nissan, Toyota and Honda that the car will be a major player.
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