We'll have live coverage of all of Saturn's new models from the New York International Auto Show Wednesday and Thursday, but in the meantime, Saturn has released preview information about its Aura mid-size sedan.

The new Aura replaces the defunct L-series, and is based on the same platform as Opel's Vectra. Powerplants for the FWD Aura range up to a 3.6-liter DOHC V6, which is coupled to General Motors' new six-speed automatic (complete with paddle shifters!). A hybrid Green Line model will be offered later in the model year - GM's first hybrid sedan.

3.6-liter V6 with new 6T70 Hydramatic six-speed




Official Press Release:

Saturn Aura Radiates Style, Refinement

Dynamic new sedan features fuel-saving six-speed auto; hybrid model coming

NEW YORK – With the launch of the 2007 Sky this spring, Saturn kicks off its most extensive product revitalization to date. Next to market is the all-new 2007 Aura midsize sedan, unveiled today. Based on last year’s concept car of the same name, the Aura blends Saturn’s new European-influenced design and high levels of refinement with the brand’s customer-focused purchase and ownership experience.

The Aura’s driving character will match its refined design, with a host of technologically sophisticated powertrains and a premium sport-sedan setup. Uplevel models feature GM’s first application of a new six-speed automatic transmission mated with the 3.6L DOHC V-6, creating a powerful yet fuel-efficient package. Later in the 2007 model year, Saturn will offer the Aura Green Line, a 2.4L Ecotec-based hybrid that will use a powertrain system similar to the Vue Green Line. It marks the first application of a hybrid powertrain in a GM passenger car.

“The bold, sophisticated design of the Aura represents another step in Saturn’s revitalization,” said Jill Lajdziak, Saturn general manager. “This is a fun-to-drive sport sedan that will appeal both to current Saturn owners and to those who have never considered shopping at one of our retail stores.”

When it goes on sale late this summer, the Aura will be available in two trim levels: the entry XE model and uplevel XR. Each model is well-equipped, with premium features and interior materials among the best in its segment.

Bold new design

Based on the dramatic concept vehicle unveiled in 2005, the Aura sports sedan carries much of the concept’s bold design. Seen in other new Saturn models, such as the Sky roadster and Outlook crossover vehicle, these elements – including distinctive headlamps with jewel-like appearance and a chrome grille bar – establish a new design language for Saturn’s growing portfolio of vehicles.

“The design language of the Aura – and other new Saturn models – is technical and conveys a premium appearance,” said Clay Dean, GM design director for small and midsize cars. “From the detailed lighting elements to the edginess of the silhouette, the Aura demonstrates a revitalized emphasis on style and performance.”

Aura’s premium design cues include halogen headlamps covered in clear housings that wrap upward and around the corners of the vehicle. This expressive, jewel-like design feature shared among Saturn’s newest models adds a sense of motion to the vehicle, even when stationary. At the rear of the vehicle, LED tail lamps are employed to enhance Aura’s technical ethic while also providing an extra measure of safety. LED lamps illuminate more quickly than conventional incandescent bulbs, which can allow drivers behind the Aura to react sooner when they see the brake lamps.

Additional design details include a radio antenna integrated in the rear window, for a sleeker overall appearance, and a chrome appearance for the door handles on XR models. Standard 17-inch wheels and tires fill the wheel houses, enhancing the vehicle’s sporty, firmly planted stance. XR models come with 18-inch polished, 14-spoke cast aluminum wheels and performance tires.

Aura is available in nine exterior colors: Berry Red, Black Onyx, Bronzed Pewter, Cream White, Golden Cashmere, Midnight Blue, Ocean Mist, Silver Pearl and Techno Grey

Refined interior

A major focus of the Aura’s design is its refined interior, which sets a new standard for the Saturn brand. Premium materials with low-gloss appearance and tight tolerances throughout exhibit excellent fit and finish, while two-tone color combinations for the trim and upholstery exude contemporary style. The interior trim flows across the instrument panel and wraps around onto the door panels for a more integrated appearance. Select use of chrome trim also accents the interior.

The gauge cluster uses LED-lit analog instruments, with amber lighting and animation at startup. LEDs are also used for ambient light projected from the overhead lamp and door pocket lamps. Self-dimming theater lighting enhances the premium feel and provides added convenience at night.

Aura’s front reclining bucket seats are designed to provide firm support and comfort on long drives. Leather seating is available, including finely detailed embossed leather seat inserts with the XR’s optional Morocco Brown interior. Aura’s other interior features include:

    * Automatic climate control
    * Center console with dual-bin storage and automatic sliding tambour door covering front cupholders and storage area
    * Driver information center
    * Optional power-adjustable pedals
    * Available eight-way power-adjustable driver seat
    * Optional heated front seats, available in cloth or leather
    * Universal home remote
    * Power windows with driver express up and express down feature
    * Steering wheel audio controls
    * Four-panel sliding Panoramic roof

A diverse range of audio systems also is available, all from GM’s new family of premium radios that feature intuitive controls and flush mounting for enhanced refinement. A six-speaker radio system is standard and includes an auxiliary input jack for portable audio players. Saturn’s Advanced Audio System also is available. It includes an AM/FM/CD/MP3 radio with eight-speaker sound, a 240-watt amplifier and rear-seat audio controls with two wireless headphones. XM Satellite Radio is available on all models.

Refined performance

Saturn offers two powertrains at launch that provide the Aura’s power and performance for a refined on-road feel. Standard on XE models is the 3.5L V-6 with variable valve timing (VVT). This powerplant, mated with the 4T45-E, four-speed automatic, generates 224 horsepower (167 kw) and 220 lb.-ft. of torque (298 Nm ).*

The 4T45-E is a four-speed, electronically controlled, automatic overdrive transaxle with an electronically controlled torque converter clutch noted for its low noise, high durability and smooth shifting.

Uplevel XR models are equipped with the 3.6L DOHC V-6 with VVT, rated at 252 horsepower* (188 kw) and 251 lb.-ft. of torque (340 Nm).* This engine is mated with the all-new Hydra-Matic 6T70 six-speed automatic transmission, the first application of this important addition to the GM Powertrain portfolio. The transmission allows for strong performance combined with strong fuel efficiency.

In addition, the 6T70 – GM’s first application of a front-wheel drive six-speed automatic transmission – will provide the added benefit of Driver Shift Control (DSC), which enables the driver to manually shift through gears via steering wheel-positioned “paddles.”

The Aura is built on a stiff, robust chassis that serves as the foundation for a satisfying driving experience. The vehicle’s long wheelbase provides a smooth ride, while careful tuning of the suspension provides sharp and immediate response to driver input.

Safety features

The Saturn Aura is designed for strong safety performance in all measurements. A safety cage construction built into the body structure is complemented with reinforced rocker sections, as well as a reinforced front body hinge pillar and roof pillars that were designed to improve impact protection. A magnesium cross-car beam unites the lower sections of the A-pillars. It helps protect passengers in side-impact crashes and also serves as the foundation of the instrument panel. High-strength steel was used in strategic areas to augment overall structural integrity.

A comprehensive roster of standard features helps protect occupants before, during and after a crash. Aura’s standard safety features include:

Dual-stage frontal air bags with GM Passenger Sensing System: The system works with the front passenger seat and differentiates between adults – 5 th percentile females and larger – and small children or child seats to adjust air bag deployment, which can help reduce the risk of air bag-induced injuries.

Head curtain side-impact air bags: For the driver and front passenger, these air bags offer added protection for the head and thorax during side-impact crashes.

Front seat-mounted thorax protection air bags: These air bags add an additional margin of protection to front seat passengers, protecting the chest cavity of driver and/or passenger when deployed in a side-impact crash.

Front safety belt pretensioners: Deploying at the same time as the frontal air bags, they take up slack in the safety belt webbing to minimize occupant movement during a crash.

LATCH child safety seat anchors: Two lower anchors and a top tether anchor secure the child seat to the vehicle seat structure for proper installation of compatible child safety seats.

Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS: Large, 11.65-inch (296 mm) vented front and 10.63-inch (270 mm) rear rotors help provide smooth, quick and assured stopping capability. Four-channel ABS is standard on all models.

StabiliTrak electronic stability control system (Aura XR): Partnered with the ABS system, StabiliTrak provides more precise, controlled stops, as well as enhanced traction/yaw stability during emergency maneuvers.

Traction control (Aura XE): Wheel slip sensors convey signals to an electronic control module, which alters the torque output of the engine to find optimal traction in slippery conditions.

OnStar is standard on all models with a one-year Safe and Sound plan, featuring the Advanced Automatic Crash Notification system. This post-crash notification system makes crash data available to emergency services, potentially dispatching appropriate life-saving personnel and equipment to the crash scene faster. If the crash activates an air bag, the OnStar system automatically notifies an OnStar advisor, who immediately calls the vehicle and/or summons emergency help.

[Source: GM]

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