Saturn SL Review from UK and Ireland

1992 Saturn SL 2 1.9 twin cam petrol

Model year1992
Year of manufacture1992
First year of ownership2004
Most recent year of ownership2005
Engine and transmission 1.9 twin cam petrol Manual
Performance marks 9 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 7 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired126000 miles
Most recent distance130200 miles
Previous carSaturn SC

Summary:

The ideal US car for daily use in the UK

Faults:

When I purchased the car rocker cover gasket failure had caused oil to leak into cylinders so the car burned oil. This sounds more serious than it actually is, as the gasket was very cheap and easy to replace. Since the gasket was replaced the Saturn has very rarely needed its oil level topping up.

Left-hand front suspension ball-joint was replaced at 127,000 miles.

The power steering pump is currently noisy and is not providing as much assistance as it should. This will definitely need replacing soon.

General Comments:

Very reliable car. Always starts first time and has never left me stranded. This is my second Saturn. My first (a 1993 SC2 coupe) was also very reliable and served me well for two years and 30,000 miles.

Saturns are extremely rare in the UK. I was extremely lucky to find my first one. I had to search high and low for my current car and made a trip of over 300 miles to purchase it. I'm sure this must speak volumes about my enthusiasm for Saturn cars!

Why do I like them? I've always been an American car enthusiast, but I also need something fairly economical to run to use as every day transport. The Saturn S-Series (SL2, SC2 etc) are ideal American cars for daily use in the UK. They are compact in size with comparable dimensions to a Vauxhall Cavalier. The SL2 is a 4-door saloon with ample seating for five people and a decent sized boot.

It has polymer body panels, which don't dent or corrode - so even the oldest examples always look good. The outer door skins, wings and bumpers are all made of this tough and durable flexible plastic. The bonnet, roof, and bootlid are steel. They are also very lightweight, benefiting performance and economy.

The engine in the SL2 (and all Saturn S-Series with a "2" in their name) is a perky 124hp 1.9 litre 16-valve 4-cylinder petrol engine. This engine gives the SL2 excellent fuel economy - I average between 30 and 35mpg in mine. Performance is also excellent, helped by the SL2's lightweight body. The 0-60 sprint takes just 8.6 seconds - very good indeed for an economy car!

The Saturn SL2 also handles very well indeed on Britains' twisty backroads, in fact it handles exceptionally well for an American car. It is enormous fun to drive, especially for a car designed primarily as an economy car. The steering is very precise and the 5-speed manual gearbox is a joy to use.

The SL2 is also very well equipped. My car has air conditioning, cruise control, leather seats, and an electric sunroof.

The Saturn saloons also look fantastic in my opinion. They look very individual and certainly stand out as being different in the UK.

My only criticisms of the 1992 Saturn SL2 are as follows:

1) The turning circle is pretty bad for a compact car - making what should be a U-turn a 3-point turn, and a 3-point becomes a 5-point turn!

2) The build quality of the interior could definitely be better. There are plenty of cheap plastics that feel rather fragile.

3) The electric seat belts (yes, really!) can be irritating, as can the various warning chimes.

Parts are easily obtainable from all the best American car parts suppliers based in the UK, such as USAutomotive. The only downside is that sometimes you have to be prepared to wait for them, as inevitably for such an obscure car, most parts have to be airfreighted in from the United States. Some parts for Saturns are reasonable priced, others are more expensive.

Overall though, the Saturn S-Series is the ideal American car for use as a daily driver in the UK. My SL2 is the most well suited US car to British roads I have come across. It could almost have been designed with the UK in mind, which makes it a great shame that they were never sold here.

It's economical, quick, reliable, compact, handles well, looks amazing, and is super rare! A car for the true individualist, and a great fun car for an enthusiast to own.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th March, 2005

11th Mar 2005, 09:01

Well, the correct grade of oil to use according to my 1992 Saturn owners' handbook is 5w-30.

16th Mar 2009, 10:28

Yes, you want 5W-30 and nothing but that in your Saturn SL-series. Personally I use synthetic in my '92 SL1.

Average review marks: 8.0 / 10, based on 1 review