Restyled for 2001, the Saturn SC2 sporty coupe adds more standard equipment and new, optional head curtain airbags. It continues to be powered by a 124 horsepower 1.9 litre DOHC 4 cylinder engine, and offers a fully independent suspension. SC2 models start at $22,043.
New styling, more standard features for world’s only 3-door coupe
Bolder styling, more standard equipment, and new (optional) head curtain airbags are the major changes to Saturn’s plastic-bodied, 3-door SC1 and SC2 sporty coupes for 2001.
The new styling is more aggressive and more distinctive than the previous model (which was last redesigned in 1997). From the side, the 2001 SC coupe has a distinct wedge shape emphasized by a crease which extends from the nose to the tail on each side of the car. Re-shaped headlamps, restyled wraparound taillamps, and a new rear spoiler add to its sportier look.
As before, Saturn coupes are available in two models, SC1 and SC2. The main differences between the two are in their horsepower rating, level of standard equipment, and price. SC1 models start at $16,763 while better-equipped SC2 coupes start at $22,043.
SC1 models have a standard 100 horsepower 1.9 litre four cylinder engine with a single overhead camshaft. SC2 coupes have a 124 horsepower 1.9 litre four cylinder engine with two overhead camshafts.
SC2 models include more standard features such as larger 15 inch tires, alloy wheels, fog lamps, air conditioning, variable-assist power steering, upgraded cloth seats, height-adjustable driver’s seat, and leather-wrapped steering wheel.
For 2001, SC2 models add even more standard equipment: power windows, power door locks and remote keyless entry with panic alarm button, cruise control, and power mirrors.
When you consider that the price of the 2001 SC2 has increased by only 2%, the new model is actually a better value than the 2000 model. The 2001 manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $22,043 is up from $21,523 in 2000.
A significant new option for 2001 is ‘head curtain’ airbags. Located in the headliners above the side windows, these air bags deploy in the event of a side collision thereby protecting the head of the driver or passenger. However, unlike many head curtain airbag systems, those in the SC2 protect only the front passengers.
SC2 models also include standard second-generation (reduced deployment) front airbags for driver and passenger.
Another safety-related feature to be introduced later in the model year is an internal trunk release handle which can be used by a child or an adult trapped in the trunk.
3rd rear door for packages
The third rear door, which was added in December, 1998, is on the driver’s side and opens to the rear. It doesn’t have an outside door handle, and can be opened only after the driver’s door has been opened, and must be closed before the driver’s door is closed. For the driver, it makes it easier to stow packages and grocery bags behind the driver’s seat, and it provides passengers access to the rear seat on the driver’s side. However, this means that rear passengers have to get in and out on the ‘street side’ of the car rather than the ‘sidewalk side’ – which leads me to believe that the third rear door was really meant for the driver’s convenience rather than the passenger’s.
Good handling, visibility
Since their introduction in 1990, Saturn coupes have consistently offered above-average handling in their class. Underneath those plastic body panels is a fully independent suspension (front MacPherson struts/rear multi-links), front stabilizer bar (SC2’s also have a rear stabilizer bar), standard 14 inch tires (15 inch on SC2) and a wide track.
In 1997, all Saturn coupes switched to the SL sedan’s platform which has a longer wheelbase – this improved ride while reducing maneuverability slightly. Still, the SC2 remains a fun-to-drive coupe with excellent stability, responsive steering, and powerful brakes. Its compact dimensions and excellent outward visibility make it easy to drive and park in the city. In particular, the SC2 has excellent visibility to the right rear corner where good visibility assists lane-changing and parallel parking.
Another high point is the SC2’s smooth-shifting 4-speed automatic transmission and peppy 124 horsepower four cylinder engine which also gets very good fuel economy: 9.3 l/100 km (30 mpg) in the city and 5.9 l/100 km (48 mpg) on the highway. In addition, Saturn has reduced the amount of noise and vibration coming from the powertrain, a sore point with earlier Saturn coupes.
SC2’s include standard front disc/rear drum brakes, but unlike many sporty coupes, four wheel disc brakes are not available. Anti-lock brakes are offered as an option.
Interior redesigned in 2000
Redesigned for the 2000 model year, the SC2’s interior is import-like in its design. It includes two very large round gauges for the speedometer and tachometer, easy-to-use stalks for lights and wipers, and centrally-positioned power window buttons. The front bucket seats are comfortable and supportive and front passengers have plenty of headroom and legroom. At the rear, there are two seats (not three) separated by a centre storage bin and two cupholders. Rear legroom and headroom are adequate but not generous.
Access to the rear seat on the passenger side is assisted by a front passenger seat which automatically slides forward when the seatback is folded. Split 60/40 folding rear seatbacks are standard on the SC2, a handy feature for loading long items in the trunk.
The SC2 is a true coupe, not a hatchback. As such, it has a traditional trunklid with a low liftover height and a wide opening. The 11.4 cubic foot trunk is very roomy and has a flat, carpeted floor.
Pricing and features
The base price of the Saturn SC2 is $22,043. Standard equipment includes the 124 horsepower 1.9 litre DOHC four cylinder engine, 5-speed manual transmission, AM/FM/CD stereo, air conditioning, rear 60/40 folding seatbacks, 195/60R-15 inch all-season performance tires and alloy wheels, and front fog lamps. Also standard are power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, tachometer, cruise control, tilt steering wheel (leather wrapped), height-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, and front and rear cupholders.
Available options include a 4-speed automatic transmission, AM/FM/CD/cassette stereo, leather seats, power sunroof, anti-lock brakes with traction control, and head curtain airbags.
Like all Saturns, the SC2 comes with a 3 year/60,000 km warranty which includes roadside assistance, and a 30 day money-back guarantee.
Competitors for the SC2 include the Chevrolet Cavalier coupe, Pontiac Sunfire coupe, Ford ZX2, Dodge Neon coupe, Honda Civic coupe, and Hyundai Tiburon.
|2001 Saturn SC2|
|Price as tested||$24,038|
|Type||3-door, 4 passenger compact coupe|
|Layout||transverse front engine/front-wheel-drive|
|Engine||1.9 litre 4 cylinder, DOHC, 16 valves|
|Horsepower||124 @ 5600 rpm|
|Torque||122 ft-lb. @ 4800 rpm|
|Transmission||4-speed automatic (5-speed manual std.)|
|Curb weight||1118 kg (2465 lb.)|
|Wheelbase||2601 mm (102.4 in.)|
|Length||4584 mm (180.5 in.)|
|Width||1732 mm (68.2 in.)|
|Height||1348 mm (53.1 in.)|
|Cargo capacity||323 litres (11.4 cu. ft.)|
|Fuel consumption||City: 9.3 l/100 km (30 mpg)|
|Hwy: 5.9 l/100 km (48 mpg)|
|Warranty||3 yrs/60,000 km|