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1998 Saturn SC1 Overview

Saturn has always talked value, about bang for the buck. Nowhere throughout the lineup is that more apparent than with the SC1 coupe tested here and the slightly pricier SC2. Value and great looks to go with it. The great looks happened last year when the coupes got completely new aerodynamic skins and a handsome new interior. New, yet it managed to carry over some of the styling cues from the distinctive look of the 1991-1996 originals. The coupes are on the same 102.4-inch wheelbase as the sedans and wagons, which means a stable platform for solid ride quality and good interior headroom. The SC1--from $12,995 including destination charges--has a 1.9-liter, four-cylinder, single overhead-cam engine that produces 100 horsepower at 5000 rpm and 114 foot-pounds of torque at 2400 rpm. Our test car had the standard five-speed manual transmission, but a four-speed automatic is optional. The SC2 uses a double overhead cam 16-valve version of the same engine, which produces 124 hp. In addition to the horsepower, the SC2 comes with more comfort and convenience features, bigger wheels and more aggressive tires, which adds up to a premium of about $1,300 compared to the SC1. The word value popped up back there. The ever-popular V-word has been a key to Saturn's marketing philosophy from the start, and GM's newest division is still serious about it. Our test car had a $1,930 option package that included power locks with remote keyless entry, power windows, air conditioning, power remote right-hand mirror and cruise control. In addition, the optional $695 anti-lock braking system comes packaged with traction control. Add in the $400 destination charge and the total for our Saturn SC1 was $15,620. Model-to-model comparisons are difficult to make because different manufacturers roll items into packages. But a quick check of the base models for several competing cars equipped with air conditioning revealed that a Chevrolet Cavalier retails for $12,404 and a Plymouth Neon goes for $11,655. A Saturn SC1 with air conditioning retails for $13,955.

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