New York Auto Show: Saturn Aura in the metal

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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