Designed to replace the Saturn S-Series, the Saturn Ion was a compact car that was built under the GM Delta platform. The car was manufactured and sold for 4 years from 2003 to 2007. And in 2006, the Ion was considered as the longest compact car sold in North America. Here’s a quick look at the quick life of the Saturn Ion.
Early years: 2003-2004
The first model of the Ion—the 2003 Saturn Ion Quad Coupe made an appearance at the 2002 New York International Auto Show. A year later, the first Ions came out of the assembly lines and into dealership stores and they were equipped with 2.2 L DOHC Ecotec I4 engines, which could churn out up to 140 hp. The Ion was made available in two options—a coupe and a sedan. The coupe was also known as the quad coupe and this was because of its bi-parting doors. The Ion was also equipped with either a 5-speed manual Getrag F23 or a 5-speed automatic Aisin AF33 transmission. Automatic transmission owners got to experience the 5-speed automatic transmission that was packaged like a four-speed manual gearbox. This helped improve the vehicle’s fuel efficiency and acceleration while it also removed the heat. The dashboard of the Ion was also quite unique for its time—instead of having the instrument panel behind the steering wheel, it was mounted on the top center part of the dash.
Mid years: 2005-2006
The 2005 model of the Saturn Ion adopted a new transmission system because the earlier versions used in the 2003 and 2004 models caused several problems. The 2005 model was furnished with GM’s 4-speed 4T45-E transmission system, and it was also equipped with a new steering wheel, grilles, wheel covers, and an acoustic engine cover to reduce noise coming from the under the hood. It also received several interior upgrades that same year such as new fabrics for the seat covers, and a height-adjustment feature was also added to the seats. Lastly, the brand-new Quiet Steel sound-reduction technology was also introduced to the 2005 Ion model.
The end: 2007
During its last year, the Ion still received several upgrades inside and out. For instance, its 2.2 L Ecotec engine was upgraded to increase power output from 140 hp to 145 hp at 5,600 rpm. The engine’s torque output was also improved from 145 lb-ft to 150 lb-ft at 4,200 rpm. And aside from that, it was also fitted with the ECU taken from the 2.4 L engine. The production of Ions lasted until March 2007, and it was replaced by the Saturn Astra a year later in 2008. The Saturn Astra is a European-built hatchback that was basically a rebadged version of the Opel Astra.