For 2007, the Saturn Ion undergoes minor changes: the 2.2-litre and 2.4-litre engines increase by five horsepower, and by five and two lb-ft of torque respectively; and there’s a new Deep Blue exterior colour. Thanks to the introduction of the all-new Aura sedan, the Ion is no longer Saturn’s sole passenger car offering.
The Ion is available as a four-door sedan or a “quad coupe”, with two small rear-hinged rear doors; all use the company’s famous dent-resistant polymer plastic body panels. Engine choices are all four-cylinders: 2.2-litre, 2.4-litre with variable valve timing, and the quad-coupe-only Ion Red Line, with supercharged 2.0-litre engine. The 2.2- and 2.4-litre engines mate to a five-speed manual transmission that can be optioned to a four-speed automatic, while the Red Line is strictly a close-coupled five-speed.
The Ion.2 sedan Base trim line uses the 2.2-litre engine, and includes 15-inch steel wheels, power locks, floor mats, 60/40 folding rear seat and CD player with auxiliary input jack; the Ion.2 Midlevel adds air conditioning, power windows, cruise control, and keyless entry.
The Ion.3 Uplevel sedan uses the 2.4-litre engine and adds 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, spoiler, CD/MP3 stereo, anti-lock brakes, traction control, sport-tuned suspension, XM Satellite Radio and automatic lights. A leather interior package can be added.
The Ion.2 and .3 quad coupes have the same features as the sedan models, but with a fold-flat front passenger seat. A Sport Appearance package, consisting of the Red Line-style fascia and rocker mouldings, bright exhaust tips and projector beam fog lamps can be added to the Ion.3.
The Red Line adds 17-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned suspension, performance tires, projector beam fog lamps, leather Recaro sport seats, leather-wrapped wheel, four disc brakes with ABS and XM Satellite Radio. An available Competitive Package adds a limited-slip differential, boost gauge with shift lights, programmable ladder tachometer, rear aero wing spoiler and 17-inch painted aluminum wheels with gunmetal finish.
It’s been around for a while, but the Ion still represents decent value, especially in the bargain-basement Red Line, which posts zero to 100 km/h times of 6.2 seconds for just over $24,000. The swoopy styling still holds up, especially on the quad coupe, where it looks even better, and the polymer panels do an excellent job of handling parking lot door dings, although they result in very large body panel gaps.
The quad coupe’s rear seat is very tight and claustrophobic, and while the rear-opening doors make it easier to enter and exit, the front doors must be opened each time before the back ones can be accessed, which can be irritating if you’re running a lot of errands with children in the back seat. The centrally-mounted cluster is loved by some and hated by others, so test-drive it to be sure you can live with it.