Top Gear - The story of how Vauxhall's Lightning concept became the Saturn Sky

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jun 7, 2005.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    The story of how Vauxhall's Lightning concept became the Saturn Sky

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    After years of badgering by British car enthusiasts, the beautiful Vauxhall Lightning roadster concept is to go into production. But hold the champagne. It probably won't go on sale in Britain. It's now known as a Saturn, that's GM's American small-car brand.

    The car was originally designed by Brit Simon Cox as a show car for Vauxhall's centenary in 2003. There were hopes it would go into production: it was conceived as a VX220 replacement, albeit front-engined, and you can see it in the design cues.

    It sat on a new General Motors rear-drive platform called Kappa, specially designed for small sports cars. The first Kappa car was the Pontiac Solstice, a show car in 2002 and due for production this year.

    Trouble was, GM Europe didn't think it could justify rushing it into production. And if it had delayed, the 2005 pedestrian protection rules would have meant it needed a complete redesign with a higher nose. Before GM and the Italians fell out, the design was even offered to Alfa.

    Then GM decided its Saturn brand needed a whole new image. So, from then on, all Saturns would have to share the Vauxhall/Opel look. So what better halo car than the Lightning? Thus it is that the orphan found a home as the Saturn Sky.

    Powered by a 2.4-litre 170bhp four, it'll cost less than $25,000 (£14,000!). For which buyers get a torquey engine, all-independent suspension and a nicely turned-out cabin. It looks like a genuine MX-5 alternative, though no-one outside GM has properly tested the Sky or Solstice yet, so the dynamics are no more than a series of claims.

    One final painful irony... Because the Solstice was slipped through European homologation before pedestrian protection came into force, the Sky can be sold in Europe as a 'derivative' of it. But GM hasn't done the right-hand drive version, and says it's not worth the effort. Doh!

    Vauxhall doesn't mind selling cars from other divisions - look at the Australian Monaro. But it says it might well baulk at LHD. We are the poorer for it.


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  2. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    I want a VX220 turbo
     
  3. psykosis

    psykosis Go placidly amid the noise and the haste

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    interesting. I liked the concept, and I like the Saturn production version as well...
     
  4. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    The sky is actually the best looking of the 3 :o
     
  5. Bloke

    Bloke Banned

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    i wonder how the new miata meets pedestrian safety standards
     
  6. dmora

    dmora Guest

    Damn that concept is HOT.
     
  7. threeclaws

    threeclaws R.I.P.

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    The Solstice is going to be less than $20k, right?

    So what are you getting for an extra $5k in the Sky?
     
  8. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Projector low beams and fog lights, and that's about it.

    The $19k Solstice doesn't come with A/C, it's an option. It will probably be one of the barest new cars you can buy.
     
  9. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    No, they've always been the foreign car alternative brand with excellent customer service and no-haggle pricing.
     
  10. threeclaws

    threeclaws R.I.P.

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    Hmmm...then I don't see why anybody would get the Sky :dunno:



    I do like the sound of the Solstice though.
     
  11. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    They got everything right from the beginning except the cars, until now. :naughty:
     

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