What Might Have Been: The Saturn Curve Concept
The Saturn Sky design got the nod over the Curve
Back in 2004, Saturn introduced as a pair of concept roadsters based on General Motors' Kappa Platform: The Sky, which eventually entered production, and the Curve. Both concepts represented a change in Saturn's identity at the time. They were a departure from the everyday-cars-with-subtle-innovations nature of the brand, even if Saturn was more known for its no-haggle pricing and cuddly dealerships.
By the time the Sky and Curve concepts debuted, the style of Saturn's cars was clearly being assimilated into the corporate GM look. The Sky followed that trend, where the Curve did not. Designed by Michael Mauer, the former head of design at Saab, the Curve goes off on its own direction, with some cues from earlier Saturns. The headlights, for example, were elongated, nearly rectangular assemblies reminiscent of earlier S-Series sedans. But the small, nearly square grille and two large air intakes low on the bumper gave the front of the Curve a look all its own.
From certain other angles, the Curve looked skateboard-like, with its low profile and pronounced front wheel arches over 20-inch wheels. Those wheels were pushed far to the corners, resulting in almost no overhang front or rear. The cabin appeared to have been chopped like a 1940's street rod. The floating appearance of the roof was thanks to B- and C-pillars tucked behind exterior glass.
The rear angle of the car looked far more Ferrari than anything with ties to GM - clean and simple. The trunk lid on the concept retained a high lift-over the likes of which haven't been seen since the early 1990's. No doubt this would have been changed had the Curve been cleared for production.
The interior of the concept carried an elegance that frankly had no business in something built by work-a-day Saturn. Then again, concepts are about possibilities, aren't they? The fine wood grain that dominated the floating center console was also found on the door handles and the top half of the steering wheel. That center console also featured an exposed-gate manual shifter. Inspired.
For mechanicals, the concept employed a supercharged 2.2-litre Ecotec four-cylinder with variable valve timing, mated to a Getrag 5-speed manual gearbox. The 200-hp, 200-plus foot-pound set up was supported by a four-wheel independent suspension. Stopping power was provided by 14-inch disk brakes with twin-piston calipers in front and single piston units in the rear. Nothing particularly special about that set up, but it would have kept the price somewhere around a reasonable expectation for a Saturn.
Both the Curve and the Sky concepts represented steps in a new direction for Saturn, who by 2004 only had a few short model years left in the tank. Buyers were eager for the Sky when it was introduced for sale, helping Saturn's bottom line a bit before its demise. We will never know how the Curve would have done.
12 November 2018 ..... Written by: Todd Nielson ..... Video and Video Still by: General Motors