All-New Saturn ION Sedan and Quad Coupe
Designed to Re-Energize Small-Car Segment
innovative thinking, segment-leading features and unprecedented
personalization opportunities, the 2003 Saturn ION sedan
and quad coupe deliver excitement and value uniquely tuned
to the needs of small-car buyers. The new series of ION
cars will debut in the fourth quarter of 2002.
The two ION models are completely new from the ground up
and offer surprising refinement for the small-car segment.
Even the name is new, since they replace the pioneering
S-Series in the Saturn lineup. Both the four-door sedan
and the "quad coupe" - so-called because of its
dual rear-access doors (RADs) - are built on the new General
Motors Delta global small-car architecture. The quad coupe's
dual RADs represent an industry first, resulting in the
creation of a new category of vehicle and a new, more functional
"The ION sedan and quad coupe are going to re-energize
the small-car arena," said Jill Lajdziak, vice president
of Saturn sales, service and marketing. "These new
models bring surprising levels of personalization and customer-friendly
features to the segment, including a larger exterior, more
interior room, a new powertrain, and enhanced ride and handling."
Attracting younger buyers
The new models also will play an important role in GM's entry-level
strategy to attract more young buyers by providing a selection
of vehicles with high value and fresh designs. One of the
keys to attracting young buyers will be an emphasis on making
it easy for customers to personalize their vehicles through
"personal accents" kits. Planned exterior customization
includes interchangeable roof rails that are color-coordinated
with interior trim kits consisting of bezels for the center-mounted
instrument panel, shifter and HVAC control panel. Saturn
also plans to offer a full range of retailer-installed accessories
when the IONs are introduced.
Another important plus for young buyers is that both the
ION sedan and quad coupe will have significant safety content
- a hallmark of the Saturn brand.
The ION small cars continue the ongoing revitalization
of Saturn's product portfolio, which for 2003 also includes
the VUE compact sport-utility vehicle and the refreshed
L-Series mid-size sedan and wagon. The ION will be built
along with the VUE in a partial split-line arrangement at
Saturn's manufacturing facility in Spring Hill, Tenn.
Like all Saturns, the ION sedan and quad coupe will be
sold and serviced through Saturn's award-winning network
of retailers who are recognized leaders in satisfying customers.
Saturn retailers have finished number one in the J. D. Power
and Associates Sales Satisfaction Index for six of the last
While siblings, the sedan and quad coupe use distinctive
exterior styling cues, but leave little doubt that both
are Saturn family members. The ION sedan brings a refined,
sophisticated, contemporary look to its segment. Meanwhile,
the quad coupe creates an entirely new product category
by incorporating rear-access doors on both the driver and
passenger side and an overall sporty flair. Both vehicles
continue the Saturn tradition of polymer side panels, including
the integral upswept "swoosh" body side styling.
Inside, a unique feature is the incorporation of a center-mounted
instrument cluster. This innovative styling cue not only
makes the sedan and quad coupe more distinctive, but also
enhances the driving experience by helping keep the eyes
closer to the horizon. In addition, positioning the instrument
cluster in the center allows the driver to comfortably position
the steering wheel, without having to position it to read
The center-cluster design made it possible to give the
ION a unique, small diameter steering wheel, part of an
interior design that focuses on harmony and overall refinement.
Other examples include tactile surfaces throughout, thin
structural A-pillars, and a sloped center console to enhance
the perception of airiness while improving ergonomics and
Built on GM's all-new Delta architecture, the five-passenger
sedan and four-passenger quad coupe continue Saturn's traditional
spaceframe construction. The new architecture allows the
ION models to be substantially bigger than their predecessors
- approximately 2 inches taller and 6 inches longer - providing
a more significant command of the road. In addition, a wider
track (approximately 2 inches front and rear) and longer
wheelbase delivers a more substantial presence.
The new, stiffer Delta architecture leads to significant
improvements in noise and vibration, as do hydraulic engine
mounts, dual balance shafts on the Ecotec powerplant, and
enhanced noise dampening throughout the vehicle.
On the inside, the seating position is significantly higher
for both front and rear occupants, improving entry and egress
and providing a more commanding view of the road. The quad
coupe is equipped with "fold-flat" passenger front
and rear seats for enhanced functionality to the small-car
market. Both models feature significant interior storage,
including three bins in the instrument panel, CD storage
in the console, and map pockets in both the front and rear
doors. In addition, the ION sedan is expected to have the
most trunk room in its class - and the quad coupe's dual
RADs and fold-flat seats bring so much versatility that
even items such as a stepladder, or even a small kayak,
can be toted in its interior compartment.
Fun to drive
Both the ION sedan and quad coupe are equipped with an outstanding
powerplant that delivers fun-to-drive performance when mated
to any of three state-of-the-art transmissions.
The Ecotec 2.2-liter, GM's global four-cylinder engine,
is standard in all vehicles. Currently offered in the Saturn
VUE sport-utility vehicle and Saturn L-Series mid-size cars,
the Ecotec becomes available for the first time in a Saturn
small car with the ION models. The 137-horsepower, 16-valve,
dual overhead cam (DOHC) powerplant incorporates dual balance
shafts for quiet operation and provides excellent response
in a wide range of driving situations.
A world-class, five-speed manual transmission is standard
for all ION models. GM Powertrain's VTi automatic transmission
- a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that provides
an infinite number of gear ratios over a wide overall ratio
range - is optional on base and mid-level models. This is
the first application of a CVT on a high-volume compact
passenger car in North America.
The VTi allows the engine to operate more efficiently than
a traditional step-ratio automatic transmission. This enables
the vehicle to achieve nearly the same fuel economy as a
manual transmission, while still providing excellent launch
performance along with smooth and responsive power delivery.
Up-level sedans and quad coupes are available with a five-speed
automatic step-gear transmission - a feature typically reserved
for premium vehicles. Compared to conventional automatics,
the five-speed provides closer steps between ratios for
acceleration when needed, particularly during passing.
The ION models are equipped with an electronic power steering
(EPS) system - a first-time small-car application on a domestic
GM vehicle. EPS contributes to gains in fuel efficiency
by eliminating the power steering pump. The speed-sensitive
system incorporates variable effort steering that is tuned
to optimize customer feel and effort.
Independent front and semi-independent torsion beam rear
suspensions, along with front and rear stabilizer bars,
a wider track, and a longer wheelbase add to the ION models'
improved ride and handling over their S-series predecessors.
The ION models' turning circle also has been engineered
to provide the maneuverability expected in the competitive
Advanced safety features
The ION sedan and quad coupe carry on the Saturn tradition
of leadership in the areas of safety and security. The world-class
structural design provides the foundation for a safe environment.
The spaceframe's front and rear crush zones help absorb
the energy of a crash while protecting the integrity of
the safety cage.
Dual-stage driver and passenger air bags are standard,
and Saturn's innovative head-curtain air bag system - which
help reduce the risk of head and neck injuries for both
front and rear occupants in certain side impact collisions
- is optional. In addition, front seatbelt pretensioners,
three-point safety belts for all seating positions, and
new LATCH (Lower Anchorages and Tethers for Children) child-seat
attachment system are all standard equipment.
OnStar, with its array of safety, security and convenience
features, is available as an option on both the ION sedan
and quad coupe - a segment first that will take Saturn's
reputation for safety and security to an even higher level.
The Saturn ION sedan and quad coupe will compete in a small-car
market that accounts for sales of more than two million
units per year, about 14 percent of the total U.S. new vehicle
market. Approximately 30 percent of small-car purchasers
are first-time new vehicle buyers.
The ION models continue Saturn's historic position of offering
premium small cars - competing primarily with Asian imports
- and targeting a more educated, informed target market
with their safety and quality brand attributes. Like all
Saturn products, the ION sedan and quad coupe were designed
to appeal to customers who would have otherwise bought a
non-GM product. More than 75 percent of Saturn buyers list
a competitive make as their second-choice vehicle, with
over half saying they would have bought an import brand.
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Saturn ION Quad Coupe Preliminary Specifications
Saturn ION Sedan Preliminary Specifications