Saturn

Saturn For 1997

By Carey Russ

More than one million Saturns have been sold since their introduction in the 1991 model year. Last year saw the first major revision to the sedans and wagons. The sporty SC1 and SC2 coupes get a remake for 1997. And the sedans and wagons have updated interiors.

Saturn continues to be successful in selling its cars in a low- pressure, no-hassle manner at Saturn stores. Saturn Stores in Southern California and Arizona are also leasing the EV1 electric car, the first vehicle to carry the "General Motors" logo. And 1997 will see right- hand drive Saturns sold in Japan.

Coupes

The sedans and wagons got a major restyling last year. This year, the Saturn coupes get their turn. All exterior panels, and all glass and light assemblies, are brand new. Even the platform on which they are built is new. The Saturn coupes now use the longer-wheelbase sedan platform, with modifications to the upper part for the coupe body. Buyers benefit, as this gives greater interior space than was found in the previous coupes. Even with all of these changes, the SC1 and SC2 will still be recognizable as Saturns. For the first time, both coupes share all body panels.

As before, all vertical panels are dent-and-ding resistant polymer. While only minor exterior details like wheels differ between the models, the real difference is under the hood. The SC1 uses the single overhead cam version of the Saturn 4-cylinder engine. The SC2 has the more-powerful dual overhead cam variant. Both can be had with 5-speed manual or sophisticated electronically-controlled 4-speed automatic transmissions with adaptive "fuzzy" logic.

Sedans and Wagons

All-new styling inside and out for the Saturn sedans and station wagons last year is followed up with interior revisions for 1997. More soundproofing material makes the 1997 Saturns even quieter. An optional in-dash CD player is now available. There are enhancements to the optional security system.

Three levels of sedan and two of wagon are offered.

EV1

Somebody had to be the first among the major automakers to bring an electric car to market, and General Motors is the one. The futuristically-styled coupe is energy-efficient and technologically advanced. It has the lowest coefficient of aerodynamic drag of any production automobile at 0.19, compared to 0.29 to 0.35 for most cars. It is the first vehicle in history to carry the General Motors nameplate, and is available through Saturn stores in selected parts of the country. It has all of the amenities of a gasoline-powered car, including heating and air conditioning.

It is the General Motors EV1. You can't buy one, but you can lease one if you live in Southern California or parts of Arizona. Even if you don't live in one of those areas, you should be aware of the EV1. It may foreshadow the future of personal transportation.

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