The SC1 is not quick. Its 100 horsepower does a decent job of moving the little coupe down the road at a moderate pace, but just isn't up to anything much more demanding. The SC1 trails the competition in the horsepower column. The Neon has 132 horsepower, the Cavalier 120 horsepower, the Escort ZX2 130 horsepower.
According to Saturn, the SC1 will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in a leisurely 10.5 seconds. The question is, of course, do you want to go more quickly than that? If you do, and you want a Saturn, then you should immediately proceed to the SC2.
Because of this, we recommend against ordering an SC1 with an automatic transmission. You should move up to the SC2 if you want an automatic. Otherwise, you'll be severely lacking in the acceleration department, which can make passing and merging onto busy freeways a bit challenging.
The five-speed manual transmission, clutch and 100-horsepower engine made a happy threesome on our SC1, however. The shifts were smooth and the clutch was linear in its operation, which means there was no sudden engagement point. And the engine delivered its power in an even flow.
Handling is one of the areas where the Saturn coupes excel. The suspension seems happy over almost any surface. Bumpy corners will not upset the handling balance. We enjoyed driving the SC1 over a favorite twisty Connecticut road; it took on a more aggressive personality when we shifted into third and squirting from corner to corner, using only the throttle and steering wheel.
At other times, the SC1 easily settles into a satisfying motoring rhythm. It feels light and compact, the engine sounds are muted and wind noise is low. Its nimbleness makes the SC1 fun to drive.