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December 29, 1997


On the road with Carol - test drive 1998 Saturn SCI

  The 1998 Saturn SC1 is a sporty, 2-door, 4-seat coupe. Base priced at $12,595, the SC1 is an affordable, fun car to drive. The 1998 model's exterior is virtually unchanged from last year with the exception of new, optional aluminum wheels. The smooth lines, sloping hood, and body color fascias give the car an integrated appearance. The rear bumper is designed to withstand 5 mph rear impact with minimal damage. Powered by a 1.9L SOHC, four cylinder engine has a compression ratio of 9.3.1 and produces 100 horsepower at 5000 rpm. I found it adequately powered. Weighing in at 2,309 lbs with manual transmission and air conditioning, the car stuck to the road and was easy to maneuver. Power steering is standard and nice to have. With gas mileage at 28 for city and 39 for highway, it is an economical car to drive.
   As with most smaller cars, you step down into the car. The doors open wide enough that getting into the car is easy. Like most coupes, getting into the back seat is a bit more of an effort. The interior features front seats with manual, lever activated recliner adjustments, side pockets I loved the trunk space. It was more than adequate and Saturn does a great job on having a short decklid. You can actually put things and get them out without much effort. The trunk volume is 11.4 cubic feet.
   The test drive model came with an optional package that included power locks and a remote, power windows, air conditioning, power remote control on the driver's mirror and cruise control. It also had the anti-lock braking system with traction control, AM-FM stereo, and the California emissions package. Daytime running lights are standard. Keyless entry is a great advantage when you are carrying items. I think the optional sunroof, which I did not have, is a positive feature to order. It would lighten up the interior space during the day.
   Saturn's policy of no-haggle at the retailer level, has resulted in its being ranked sixth in retail sales among all automakers and receiving several awards for customer satisfaction. Saturn also offers a 30 day/1,500 mile money back guarantee and 24-hour roadside assistance seven days a week.
   The Saturn comes with Reduced Force Air Bags which do not reduce the need to wear safety belts. Safety belts and proper child restraints will continue to be the most effective way to help reduce the risks of injury and death in a crash and are essential in helping protect occupants in crashes where air bags are not intended; to provide protection - side impacts, rear impacts and rollovers. Reduced Force Air Bags will not eliminate the risk to children in rear-facing infant seats. Rear-facing infant seats must be used only in rear seats. Reduced Force Air Bags will reduce some of the risks associated with air bag deployment for out-of-position occupants, but the risks are not eliminated.
   Whenever possible, children under 13 years of age should be in the back seat and should always be properly secured.
   Saturn's web site at www. saturncars.com allows potential buyers to build their own detailed window sticker with the basic price and added features and then contact a Saturn retail facility. You can also calculate monthly credit or lease payments, apply for credit or financing options.