Gives new impetus to the brand



Jill Lajdziak, Saturn’s general manager, credits the company with a strong dealer network and focus on customers.



The Saturn Aura won the Car of the Year award for its performance, specification and build quality.

Saturn general manager Jill Lajdziak has good reason to smile — her company’s Aura sedan has scooped the North American Car of the Year award, the first time Saturn has won the prize in the 16 years of its existence.

Indeed, the award is a sign that Saturn is finally starting to produce products worthy of its high-quality dealer network. The General Motors division has been criticized for producing bland cars, and failing to hit the hot market segments such as SUVs, minivans and crossovers.

Lajdziak admitted GM had considered shutting the brand down over the past few years: "It was touch and go for Saturn — but what saved us was our dealer network and our focus on the customer."

Saturn also turned to GM’s European operations for its product development — the Aura is based on the Vauxhall Vectra; the Saturn Sky coupe was derived from the Vauxhall Lightning concept car; future Saturns based on the Astra and even Corsa platforms are under development. The Vue SUV has been developed by GM-Daewoo in Korea. "Our efforts are paying off," Lajdziak said.

The Aura won the Car of the Year award because of a combination of performance, specification and build quality. A hybrid version will be added to the Saturn range later this year.

The Aura beat the latest-generation Toyota Camry in the final voting — a major achievement as Camry is North America’s bestselling car.

GM also won the North American Truck of the Year award with the Chevrolet Silverado large pickup truck.

It’s the first time the same manufacturer has won both awards in the same year.