All-New Saturn ION Sedan and Quad Coupe Designed to Re-Energize Small-Car Segment
Blending 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 small car.
"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
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 seven years.
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 instrument gauges.
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 visibility.
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
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 small-car segment.
Advanced safety features
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 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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