Playing horseshoes and hand grenades in the turbocharged Sky Sky Red Line paces the Porsche Cayman to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 14.2 seconds at 99.0 mph. By Mike Schmidt Date posted: 03-26-2007 Turbocharged 2.0-liter Ecotec engine - 260 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque "'Almost' only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." Through the ages this battle cry has crossed the lips of countless adolescents. We dust it off for one more use. The 2007 Saturn Sky Red Line is almost perfect. If you're seeking a car capable of pushing the limits of both driver and machine, you'll find only disappointment with this Saturn. The turbocharged Sky feels happy until you reach 80 percent of driving intensity, and then it lets you know that it doesn't want to go any further. It's almost good. Of course, the public doesn't seem to care. Once you catch sight of this car's spectacular good looks, you can feel the rush of the wind through your hair and practically hear the admiring whispers of awestruck onlookers. The grass is always greener Our Chili Pepper Red test car has an MSRP of $29,979. Unless you're a trained observer, you'll have a hard time seeing the difference between the Sky roadster and the turbocharged Sky Red Line. The distinguishing characteristics are discreetly limited to a reshaped grille, brake ducts in the front fascia, dual exhaust tips beneath the rear fascia, and a unique instrumentation cluster. The mechanical differentiation between the two Sky models is more apparent. Under the hood of the Red Line is a turbocharged Ecotec 2.0-liter inline-4, which supplants the Sky roadster's normally aspirated 2.4-liter. The turbo Ecotec is GM's first engine with direct fuel injection that's been offered in the United States. With 260 horsepower at its command, the turbo Ecotec produces 130 hp per liter, giving it the distinction of the highest specific output of any GM engine to date. Supporting the new engine in the Red Line are a sport-tuned suspension, electronic stability control, four-wheel disc brakes and a limited-slip differential. Our Chili Pepper Red test car also had optional 18-inch chrome-plated wheels, black leather seat inserts, an upgraded Delphi Monsoon stereo, XM radio and a rear spoiler, a list that ends at an MSRP of $29,979. Close, but no cigar Higher-quality finishes and materials raise the base price of the Red Line above the similarly powered Solstice GXP. When it comes to ergonomic goodness and practical interior storage, the Saturn Sky Red Line remains the nightmare twin of the Pontiac Solstice GXP. Word on the street is that Saturn dealerships are offering yoga courses to buyers of the Sky Red Line, as Downward Facing Dog is perfect for using the window controls, while Side Crow is appropriate for the cupholders. It's hard to set much store by ergonomic complaints in a sports car, yet any driving enthusiast will have some gripes with the Sky Red Line. For us, the Mazda MX-5 sets the standard for light-effort steering and responsive handling, while the Saturn just doesn't measure up. It's reflected in the Sky Red Line's speed of 67.4 mph in the slalom, which is outpaced by the Mazda's 70.0 mph. The slow-revving engine, poor throttle response and a suspension that's both underdamped and undersprung conspire against it. On the other hand, the Goodyear Eagle F1 tires helped the Sky post a respectable 0.86g around the skid pad. The roadster's balky long-throw shift action is the final disappointment in the Sky Red Line's performance. It's just one more thing about the car that seems uncooperative, and it's one more barrier to becoming engaged with the car's behavior. Appealing to the masses A reshaped front grille maximizes airflow to the intercooler of the turbo Ecotec But if you're not a hard-core driver, there's a lot about the Sky Red Line to like. There's so much style that you can almost overlook the time-consuming procedure to lower the convertible top. The Sky Red Line is relatively fast and it goes down the road with authority. More engine torque also makes the car more tractable around town. Saturn's roadster stopped better than any car we've tested in its price range. The car bounced and changed direction on each stop as the ABS worked overtime to bring the 3,055-pound projectile to a stop from 60 mph, yet it did the job in 121 feet. The Red Line also catches up to the competition on the straightaway. About 20 psi of boost and almost no turbo lag help the car get to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 14.2 seconds at 99.0 mph. This performance is identical to the $52,000 Porsche Cayman we tested in December. That's good company. Our acceleration testing proves the 83-hp increase from a base Sky to Red Line is worth it. In case that's not enough straight-line speed, there is an aftermarket Mallet V8 conversion kit available, but just don't expect to match Inside Line's observed 22 mpg after adding this fuel-sucking 400-hp 6.0-liter Corvette LS2 engine. Don't expect it to handle any better either. GM is drawing a lot of attention with the Sky Red Line. But serious drivers will find it's still a couple of generations of development away from the fun-to-drive refinement of the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Meanwhile, those just looking for a few miles of pleasure on a sunny day will find its performance limitations largely irrelevant and will take pride in knowing that they own one of the sexiest convertibles on the road. It's almost perfect. Improvements to the Sky Red Line make it well worth the $3,700 premium over the base-model Sky roadster. MSRP of Test Vehicle: $29,979 What Works: Among the best-looking vehicles on the road. Affordable turbo power is a great addition. What Needs Work: Handling and steering feedback still don't measure up to the competition. Ergonomic and storage issues persist. Bottom Line: Traffic-stopping design with a strong engine. It won't satisfy the driving enthusiast, but the general public will love it.