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Old 05-03-2018, 08:02 PM   #1
PrestonIII
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Default Just How Fast is a Saturn SL2?

This post is likely to draw all kinds of jeers and cheers from many people in here, so if you're the judgmental type, you probably wont want to read it.

I live in the country outside of Columbus Ohio, about 10 miles out, on a 2 lane highway that is easily capable of a 70 mile per hour speed all along it. And the drive into town is a 4 lane divided highway with traffic lights at major intersections. My point is, that I'm in the middle of B.F.E. miles from nowhere, with very little traffic to boot. Interstate 70 parallels the divided highway 2 miles north.

Now to my story!

On my way into work (into Columbus) one day last week, I happened to pull up at an traffic light next to a mid-90's Taurus SHO, that seemed to be in pretty good shape for a 24-30 year old steel car. At least it was washed and clean.

Some younger guy was at the wheel, and when the light turned green, a race ensued. Accelerators were floored, engines whined out, and we were off! I really didn't expect that my '94 SL2 HCE would stand up against him, since he has a 3.0 litre 24 valve Yamaha V-6 with a 5-speed stick. But it turned out that in about 200-300 feet, I had a healthy 3-5 car lead on him, and all he could see were my taillights.

Now in my younger days, I was a street racer. I've always had big powerful V8 RWD cars (Camaro's and Trans Am's), and am not opposed to showing other drivers how inadequate they and their machines really are. As I've gotten older, I've gotten wiser, and my testicles just aren't as big as they used to be. Plus, I don't regularly drive a car that I'd abuse like that these days.

I must say that while I was blowing the doors off that Taurus, my youth came back to me, and a great level of pride came to me about my tiny little Saturn. I love this car.

OK, one more story:

Today on my way home from work, I pull off the 4-lane onto my 2-lane highway. Behind me was a Ford F-250 SuperDuty, and the driver was "pushing me" to get around the corner. So, I decided to show him my taillights from a greater distance, and I mashed the accelerator. I pulled away from him quite easily. That is, until he realized what was going on. He mashed the go-pedal and latched on my rear bumper, and climbed up the MPH meter right there with me. Somewhere up at the end of my safety zone, I ran out of courage, and let off the pedal to flatten off my speed. And THAT is when he punched it. The diesel roared, the black smoke billowed, and he blew by me like I was sitting still. I punched it hard to keep up, and followed him to MY driveway! We stopped and talked, and he told me his truck was not stock, and had some boost and wastegate modifications on the turbo. He then told me that I was running about 125 MPH when he decided to PULL OUT AND PASS me. And he blew by me like I was standing still.

Again, I LOVE my Saturn.

These two experiences have shown me that these little cars are much more than just transportation. I've read about the power to weight ratio that is better than a Corvette, and a red-line that is higher! I just never equated it to being an all-out hot rod.

I'm from the time when 1.9 litres didn't exist, when a 2.5 liter 4-cylinder Chevy-II was the smallest thing on the road and it couldn't get out of the way of it's shadow, and had a top speed somewhere around 80 MPH. Anything smaller than that was a garden tractor or farm implement.

This is my 4th 93-94 Saturn, and I've loved every one of them. The most previous one, I tried a traffic light bonsai run with it, and the automatic never shifted out of 1st. The tachometer saw WAY above 7000 RPM, and when I let off the accelerator, the engine was toast. It had hammered a rod bearing out of it from the over-rev. So, that made me think these cars are delicate and problematic, and to watch the tach on my car rather than the speedometer.

Did I say "I love my Saturn"? Well, I love my Saturn.

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Old 05-03-2018, 09:09 PM   #2
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Default Re: Just How Fast is a Saturn SL2?

No jeers from me. The Saturn twin cam is an all around great car. If you were to chose it at the beginning of a game of Mario Kart it would have the best amount of bars overall.
Price
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Old 05-03-2018, 10:19 PM   #3
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Default Re: Just How Fast is a Saturn SL2?

A work buddy had a Gen 1 SC2. He had bought it from his dad. He mentioned how fast it was, and was claiming aerodynamics rather than HP. One day we were headed out to lunch and he easily ran it up over 110. This was on Dummo's favorite road, the Merritt Parkway.

This was years before I bought my '99.

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Old 05-03-2018, 10:56 PM   #4
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Default Re: Just How Fast is a Saturn SL2?

My 1994 Sl2 5 speed had some zip to it. Was curious on the speed limiter, it was 114. Got there without a hitch. My friend has a 2013 BMW 328i, raced him 0-60 and the Saturn was only down by half a car length, probably since I was driving manual and had some wheel slippage in first. But we did a 20 roll up to 80 and I whooped him. Look on his face was priceless. Now, in the 99 Auto, I went against a friend with a 2002 Taurus with a v6 auto, and I whooped him too. Guess the Saturns are just light cars and have some gusto to them. I love my saturns too, I know how you feel. I personally think the first gens feel like they have the most pep to them.

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Old 05-04-2018, 06:52 AM   #5
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Default Re: Just How Fast is a Saturn SL2?

OP unless you looked under the hood of that Taurus how would you know it had the Yamaha twin cam V6 and a 5 speed?
While the little Saturn has respectable "scoot" I seriously doubt it would outrun a Taurus SHO unless the driver didn't know how to drive it or something was seriously wrong with it as in it's day the SHO made some serious speed. Or maybe that driver just couldn't see where he was going because of the oil smoke screen from the Saturn under full throttle

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Old 05-04-2018, 07:42 AM   #6
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Default Re: Just How Fast is a Saturn SL2?

This mythical smoke screen I keep seeing mentioned every so often, is it Dohc specific?

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Old 05-04-2018, 09:07 AM   #7
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Default Re: Just How Fast is a Saturn SL2?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nekomimi View Post
This mythical smoke screen I keep seeing mentioned every so often, is it Dohc specific?
My experience shows that a 98 DOHC, with 220,000-miles on the engine, will consume just under 1 quart of AmsOil HD Diesel 5W-30 in 3000 miles. But, I drive like there is an egg between my foot and the pedal. If they gave out awards for ridiculously extremely safe model driving habits, I would be a national favorite recipient award-winner year after year and satellite imagery of my highway driving would be featured in films shown to student drivers on day one of class.

...
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Last edited by bumpdraft; 05-04-2018 at 09:14 AM..

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Old 05-04-2018, 11:14 AM   #8
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Default Re: Just How Fast is a Saturn SL2?

Well underthehood, what I came up against was a white 1st gen Taurus SHO. I know it was a stick because I saw the driver stirring the gear lever as we were sitting at the light, and only the SHO and MT5 ever had sticks in a Taurus, and the MT5 had a plebian 4-cylinder in it. Therefore the car likely had the original drive train in it, meaning the Yahama 3-litre. Later the SHO was available with an automatic, and it received a larger 3.2 liter version of the Yahama engine. I'm a big fan of the SHO, and know quite a bit about them. I always wanted one, and drove quite a few of them "back in the day". One of my better friends had a 1st gen after it was about 10 years old, and I worked on it when needed because he didn't have the skills.

The first gen SHO ran from 89-91, and Car and Driver reported that they could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds with a quarter mile time of 15.0-15.2 seconds. They stated in their December 1989 issue that the SHO of that time had a top speed of 143 mph.

These 0-60 figures are only a little better than the advertised times of the SL2, but age and condition of the car and the driver's abilities can play a big factor. And I'm betting his car has 4 times the miles that mine has.

My car only has 54,000 miles on it, and IT DOESN'T SMOKE. I've put about 3/4 of a quart of oil in it since the last oil change, 5,000 miles ago.

And I know that if I keep abusing it like the story above indicates, that it wont last nearly as long as I want it to. I don't drive that way normally, but on the two occasions above, I was "feeling my oats".

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Old 05-04-2018, 11:30 AM   #9
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Default Re: Just How Fast is a Saturn SL2?

Well underthehood, what I came up against was a white 1st gen Taurus SHO. I know it was a stick because I saw the driver stirring the gear lever as we were sitting at the light, and only the SHO and MT5 ever had sticks in a Taurus, and the MT5 had a plebeian 4-cylinder in it (have you ever seen a 4-cylinder Taurus?). Therefore the car likely had the original drive train in it, meaning the Yamaha 3-liter. Later the SHO was available with an automatic, and it received a larger 3.2 liter version of the Yamaha engine and it was a bit slower. I'm a big fan of the SHO, and know quite a bit about them. I always wanted one, and drove quite a few of them "back in the day". My little brother had a 1st gen after it was about 10 years old, and I worked on it a few times because he doesn't have the skills (he drives an Audi now).

The first gen SHO ran from 89-91, and Car and Driver reported that they could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds with a quarter mile time of 15.0-15.2 seconds. They stated in their December 1989 issue that the SHO of that time had a top speed of 143 mph.

These 0-60 figures are only a little better than the advertised times of the SL2, but age and condition of the car and the driver's abilities can play a big factor. And I'm betting his car has 4 times the miles that mine has. Though too, his car is getting lighter every day, based on the rust around the rear wheel arches that I saw.

My car only has 54,000 miles on it, and IT DOESN'T SMOKE. I've put about 3/4 of a quart of oil in it since the last oil change, 5,000 miles ago.

And I know that if I keep abusing it like the story above indicates, that it wont last nearly as long as I want it to. I don't drive that way normally, but on the two occasions above, I was "feeling my oats", and I wanted to feel just a little bit younger for a few minutes. I have always been a guy interested in acceleration, not top speed. 0-60 in 6 seconds feels a lot more exhilarating to me than a top speed of 135 mile per hour.

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Old 05-04-2018, 03:08 PM   #10
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Default Re: Just How Fast is a Saturn SL2?

We can reliably beat most modern subcompact cars and almost all contemporary compacts. Also priuses, but does that really count?

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Old 05-04-2018, 04:45 PM   #11
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Default Re: Just How Fast is a Saturn SL2?

If you saw what you saw there is no way an SL2 will smoke an SHO (given both in good shape). I have owned 3 SL2s (a 96, a 99 and 2001) and while all 3 had a nice amount of "scoot" there is no way they'd ever outrun an SHO. Guy I know had a 1st gen SHO and I rode in it with him this while I owned my 96 SL2. No comparison not even close. Not sayin the SL2 is a dog. But ain't no SHO killer either. My guess is the other driver didn't know how to handle a clutch, or the car was in tired shape (and don't tell me because of low miles because my 99 was bought with only 35K on it and it was well cared for).
Sorry not "knocking" your SL2 or any for that matter. I love them. But they're not THAT fast

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Old 05-04-2018, 04:50 PM   #12
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Default Re: Just How Fast is a Saturn SL2?

I believe that most any cop car doing 100 mph can catch any car whose speedometer shows around 125. Reason? Because almost all car's speedos are NOT accurate above (who knows?) 85-100, and being thus uncalibrated, all our cars suffer from a malady and they present us with an inflated mph reading.

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Old 05-04-2018, 05:40 PM   #13
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Default Re: Just How Fast is a Saturn SL2?

^ I was intrigued by your comments about speedometer inaccuracies which prompted me to ask google. Car and Driver did some research on speedos with what I found years ago (analog) and still applicable to electronics today; https://www.caranddriver.com/feature...ometer-scandal. The last line;...... 85-mph speedometer is 3.4 mph, and the acceptable range on a 150-mph speedometer is 6.0 mph.

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Old 05-04-2018, 10:53 PM   #14
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Default Re: Just How Fast is a Saturn SL2?

If you want to check the accuracy of your speedometer, then use a GPS. I have a few Garmin brand GPS's and they all can display vehicle speed, calculated from the distance traveled as seen by the the GPS measurements and the time between those measurements. And GPS measurements are accurate down to less than 20 feet in most cases, and closer to 10 feet in many. That makes them VERY accurate. Your smart phone isn't as accurate. You can even buy a GPS based Speedometer that mounts in your windshield like a GPS, but is just a speedometer/odometer (eBay).

I have a Peugeot with a speedometer that is almost exactly 5 MPH fast across the band, a Suburban that is fast about 3 MPH between 35 and 85, and my Saturn is less than 2 mph fast up to 85 mph. I can't account for above 85, because I almost never go that fast on the street (I almost killed 2 people while speeding as a young idiot driving my first brand new Camaro). And during my last bonsai run with the SL2, I was watching the road, not the gauge. The driver of the other car told me 125 MPH, and I took him at his word.

Keep in mind, that with electronic speedo's, it's a lot more accurate than the old cable driven ones, that were mechanical, relying on calibrated springs that changed tension with temperature and torque. And our Saturns, even though they may have a mechanical looking gauge, are electronically driven speedo's relying on current balance between two electrical coils.

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Old 05-05-2018, 05:53 AM   #15
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Default Re: Just How Fast is a Saturn SL2?

From what I've read, all S-Series are electronically limited to about 109mph or 124mph. I know that my 2000 SL2 is limited to 109mph.

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Old 05-05-2018, 09:52 AM   #16
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Default Re: Just How Fast is a Saturn SL2?

It will be interesting to see how much drag racing there will be now that cameras are everywhere. Drivers seem to have them mapped-out. On the expressway, I notice drivers slowing and packing in close like the caution flag is out . I look around and see a near ground-level camera. This is smart of the Sky People to pick their favorite location to cause a pile-up accident. They could construct a service road right to that location so it is easier to retrieve the wrecks their cameras caused.

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Old 05-05-2018, 10:54 AM   #17
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Default Re: Just How Fast is a Saturn SL2?

Meanwhile, the only thing i could waste is a geo metro or a really heavy old suv.

Id probably be ahead for up to 30 mph with a good launch but funs over after that.

Ive never actually raced anyone, people dont really race around here anyways. But then again, i am cruising around in a 100 hp compact car so it could be that no ones interested.

...
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Old 05-06-2018, 05:12 PM   #18
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Default Re: Just How Fast is a Saturn SL2?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrWhsprs View Post
From what I've read, all S-Series are electronically limited to about 109mph or 124mph. I know that my 2000 SL2 is limited to 109mph.
My 1994 SL2 was limted at 114, I beleive our 1999 SL2 is at 109 (havent hit it yet, 105 was the top). I think it was generational

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Old 05-06-2018, 08:14 PM   #19
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Default Re: Just How Fast is a Saturn SL2?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PrestonIII View Post
This post is likely to draw all kinds of jeers and cheers from many people in here, so if you're the judgmental type, you probably wont want to read it.

I live in the country outside of Columbus Ohio, about 10 miles out, on a 2 lane highway that is easily capable of a 70 mile per hour speed all along it. And the drive into town is a 4 lane divided highway with traffic lights at major intersections. My point is, that I'm in the middle of B.F.E. miles from nowhere, with very little traffic to boot. Interstate 70 parallels the divided highway 2 miles north.
Just watch for the helicopter patrol with the OSP. They love to radar from the air, with Staties sitting in the median.

Quote:
Now to my story!

On my way into work (into Columbus) one day last week, I happened to pull up at an traffic light next to a mid-90's Taurus SHO, that seemed to be in pretty good shape for a 24-30 year old steel car. At least it was washed and clean.

Some younger guy was at the wheel, and when the light turned green, a race ensued. Accelerators were floored, engines whined out, and we were off! I really didn't expect that my '94 SL2 HCE would stand up against him, since he has a 3.0 litre 24 valve Yamaha V-6 with a 5-speed stick. But it turned out that in about 200-300 feet, I had a healthy 3-5 car lead on him, and all he could see were my taillights.
Trust me, he wasn't trying. The Saturn S-Series, bone stock with a 5-speed runs about a 15.8 in the -mile, with perfect conditions and shifts. The automatic 4-speed will pull about a 16.5, in "NORMAL" shift mode.(Performance mode runs each gear to 6,500rpm, which is 500rpm past your peak HP rpm and wastes the gears). The Ford Taurus SHO was the fastest production vehicle in its class(Large/Sedan), at the time of its production. Too bad it was a Ford, hence why you don't see hardly any of them left on the roads.

Quote:
Now in my younger days, I was a street racer. I've always had big powerful V8 RWD cars (Camaro's and Trans Am's), and am not opposed to showing other drivers how inadequate they and their machines really are. As I've gotten older, I've gotten wiser, and my testicles just aren't as big as they used to be. Plus, I don't regularly drive a car that I'd abuse like that these days.

I must say that while I was blowing the doors off that Taurus, my youth came back to me, and a great level of pride came to me about my tiny little Saturn. I love this car.
Look for a 1990 Chevrolet Beretta GTZ, or a 1991 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais 442 with the W41 Quad 4 High Output, and you'll forget all about V8s really fast. Those engines came with 190hp(naturally-aspirated) stock, run 14.8 in the qtr, and still average over 30mpg.

Quote:
OK, one more story:

Today on my way home from work, I pull off the 4-lane onto my 2-lane highway. Behind me was a Ford F-250 SuperDuty, and the driver was "pushing me" to get around the corner. So, I decided to show him my taillights from a greater distance, and I mashed the accelerator. I pulled away from him quite easily. That is, until he realized what was going on. He mashed the go-pedal and latched on my rear bumper, and climbed up the MPH meter right there with me. Somewhere up at the end of my safety zone, I ran out of courage, and let off the pedal to flatten off my speed. And THAT is when he punched it. The diesel roared, the black smoke billowed, and he blew by me like I was sitting still. I punched it hard to keep up, and followed him to MY driveway! We stopped and talked, and he told me his truck was not stock, and had some boost and wastegate modifications on the turbo. He then told me that I was running about 125 MPH when he decided to PULL OUT AND PASS me. And he blew by me like I was standing still.
That's ok. He'll blow his head gasket by next week, because it is a Ford Super Dookie truck......

ONLY AT-equipped SC2's are electronically limited to 124mph by the PCM. So, you would feel the fuel pump cut off and coast the engine, if you managed to get the speedometer that far to the right side of dash. Your cutoff should have occurred probably between 105-115mph.

Quote:
Again, I LOVE my Saturn.

These two experiences have shown me that these little cars are much more than just transportation. I've read about the power to weight ratio that is better than a Corvette, and a red-line that is higher! I just never equated it to being an all-out hot rod.

I'm from the time when 1.9 litres didn't exist, when a 2.5 liter 4-cylinder Chevy-II was the smallest thing on the road and it couldn't get out of the way of it's shadow, and had a top speed somewhere around 80 MPH. Anything smaller than that was a garden tractor or farm implement.
Redline isn't always a good thing. Higher rpm redlines require more durable valve trains components and better precision balancing of the bottom end to prevent piston "stretch", as well "airborne" connecting rods from the increased centrifugal force. Higher-rpm engine builds are also less thermally efficient than lpwer rpm builds of the exact same HP levels. HP is a numerical figure for how hard an engine works to produce the power at the flywheel(torque). Higher-rpm redlines result in higher BTU of heat production which translates to quicker molecular degradation of the internal engine components, as well as more energy wasted from the increased heat production. In racing, there is no "replacement" for "displacement".

Quote:
This is my 4th 93-94 Saturn, and I've loved every one of them. The most previous one, I tried a traffic light bonsai run with it, and the automatic never shifted out of 1st. The tachometer saw WAY above 7000 RPM, and when I let off the accelerator, the engine was toast. It had hammered a rod bearing out of it from the over-rev. So, that made me think these cars are delicate and problematic, and to watch the tach on my car rather than the speedometer.

Did I say "I love my Saturn"? Well, I love my Saturn.
PCMs limit the rpms to 6,750 and cut the fuel pump if the engine is revved past the 6,500rpm redline.

...
"What does a Saturn owner do, at the gas station?"

"He checks the gas, and fills the oil....."

Last edited by Saturn Night; 05-06-2018 at 08:26 PM..

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Old 05-06-2018, 08:25 PM   #20
Saturn Night
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Join Date: Aug 2016
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1995 SC2
Happy Re: Just How Fast is a Saturn SL2?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cgg17 View Post
My 1994 Sl2 5 speed had some zip to it. Was curious on the speed limiter, it was 114. Got there without a hitch. My friend has a 2013 BMW 328i, raced him 0-60 and the Saturn was only down by half a car length, probably since I was driving manual and had some wheel slippage in first. But we did a 20 roll up to 80 and I whooped him. Look on his face was priceless. Now, in the 99 Auto, I went against a friend with a 2002 Taurus with a v6 auto, and I whooped him too. Guess the Saturns are just light cars and have some gusto to them. I love my saturns too, I know how you feel. I personally think the first gens feel like they have the most pep to them.
I would have loved to see the look on his face, just because I loathe BMWs(working on them, owning them, driving them, listening to other owners brag about them.....)

...
"What does a Saturn owner do, at the gas station?"

"He checks the gas, and fills the oil....."

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