First Drive: Saturn Aura and HCCI

Benjamin Jones from EcoGeek recently had an opportunity to drive a Saturn Aura prototype equipped with a GM 2.4L Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) powerplant. Read his thoughts about how the new fuel-efficient technology works from a driver's perspective.

My first driving impression was "wow, this thing really is like a diesel." It sounded and drove the part when in HCCI mode, and then in switching back to standard ignition (SI) mode showed its side as a typical gasoline-powered car. The transitions were definitely a little rough around the edges, but I was assured (and believe) that these things will be cleared up long before the car is sent to consumers. It was a pleasure to drive, and it will be interesting to see how (and if and when) it is introduced to the public. If the car does maintain a slight transition between HCCI and SI modes or the sound difference is profound (which really gives the impression of driving a diesel while in HCCI mode), driving an equipped engine will definitely take a shift in the mind of the consumer. However, I won't fault GM for that now, as it seems that consumers are finally ready to make that switch. Let's just hope that those fears don't keep GM from putting the kibosh on this technology. It gets a definite thumbs up from me.

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Flashback Friday: First Saturn Sold Today in 1990

On this date in 1990, Saturn sold its first car. According to the St. Petersburg Times, the first Saturn - the blue SL2 sedan shown above - was sold just after midnight to Elaine Terry at Saturn of Clearwater. "I wanted an American-made car and decided to give it a try," Mrs. Terry told the newspaper. It was a 25th wedding anniversary present. USA Today and CNN were reportedly at the retail facility to document the event. "I kept it for 10 months and put over 5,000 miles on it. People all over the country wanted to buy the car from me. One man in Las Vegas was talking up to $100,000 for it."