2002 Saturn SC SC1 1.9 SOHC from North America
The good, the bad and the ugly
In a year and a half of ownership, nothing has really gone wrong. Maintenance only. That is only the beginning, please read on.
Gas mileage is incredible. I am really happy about that. I easily get 35 MPG in the city and around 50 MPG on the highway, really hard to beat, and I do not go easy on the accelerator.
Initial cost of the car is high, but when purchased used, (as it was in my case) this car is a real bargain compared to others in its class. I guess if you bought it new, you would be concerned about its low resale value, but once depreciated, this car is a real good value.
Reliability has been impressive, only had to replace spark plugs and ignition wires (one was corroded) and rear brakes, that's all.
Polymer body panels. Need I say more? Car still looks brand new, no unsightly dings and no rust, since I have a couple deep scratches that would be covered in rust on any other vehicle.
The third door. You would be amazed how functional that is, and once you have it, you will wonder how you got around without it. When you get into another coupe without it, you will undoubtfully look for a latch to try to open a third door that isn't there. Nice touch, especially when you have small children.
The engine bay is actually nicely laid out and stays amazingly clean, although the location of the computer module is undesirable.
Very minor detail, but so functional is the location of the power windows switches, They are located in the centre console and as far as I'm concerned, the best place for it in a manual transmission equipped car. Why take both hands of the wheel, when you can roll your windows down and still keep one hand on the steering wheel.
Very pleasant lines on the car, looks far sportier than it actually is.
Noise, noise, noise.
When you hear that Saturn's small engines are noisy, you become concerned. Ironically it is not the engine that is the biggest culprit here. The tire and road noise especially over bumpy roads is down-right unbearable (unless you like to crank the stereo up).
Not the most comfortable front seats, very unusual sitting position in the back, but plenty of headroom in the rear.
Instrumentation is quite dated, odd looking and functioning fan switch. My car is practically all black inside, some of the plastics are really cheap and some rattles have begun.
The driver's side door is pretty embarrassing to close, makes a nasty sound and you are never quite sure it is closed.
Windshield wiper motor is noisy as are the rear struts, sounds like they've used inexpensive parts for those.
Original tires wear out quick and look very tiny in proportion to the rest of the body.
Air Conditioning takes a long time to become affective and even when it does, you have to keep it at a high level to stay cool. Heating in our Canadian winters is efficient.
There is always some condensation on one of the front headlights. When I came for a dealer service I've noticed that ALL SCs sitting at the dealer's lot have the same problem.
Engine sometimes surges when idling in traffic, that was somewhat fixed by changing the spark plug wires, but is still occuring.
Fit and finish. Not up to industry average.
Especially the body parts.
The tolerances between panels are totally not acceptable and strangely enough, not even in the same vertical line!!! This makes the car look really cheap and is my biggest problem with the vehicle.
The space between the front fender and the driver's door is terribly large. It is more that 3/8 of an inch! I know that the car is made of polymer which expands and contracts depending on the weather, but c'mon, this is gross and even trucks have better tolerances. Disappointing.
I'm satisfied with the car, it isn't quick and it doesn't handle gracefully, but gets me around, does so with little maintenance involved, with superb fuel mileage and other that the unsightly gaps in body panels it looks good too.
It reminds me a lot of my old Corolla GT-S, plasticky tight interior with good standard equipment, budget thrills and fairly reliable.
Honestly, I wouldn't buy another SC1, maybe SC2, but surely I would take a look at some of the new products coming from Saturn. Finally dealers have something exciting to sell.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 12th June, 2006