What’s New: The Astra is all-new for 2008, replacing the Ion as Saturn’s entry-level model. Borrowed from the European market, the Astra is available in 3- and 5-door configurations with a four-cylinder engine, standard side-curtain bags, and a base price less than $17,000.
What We Think: Saturn has hit a solid double with its new Astra, thanks to sexy European styling, competitive pricing, a comfortable interior built with quality materials, and an entertaining handling package. So what else does it need? More beans under the hood and an automatic transmission that satisfies weekend enthusiasts with a bit more sport.
Saturn Astra – 2008 Review: Whether you like it or not, the world’s going global. Sounds obvious to the point of being nonsensical, but despite the common availability of knick-knacks from Taiwan, clothing from South America, and appliances from China, there have been industry holdouts, most notably that which makes the cars and trucks we drive everyday. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing Japanese- and European-branded vehicles on our roadways, but some of us are still grappling with the idea of a Honda (Japanese) being built in Ohio or Ontario, a Volkswagen (German) rolling off a Mexican assembly line, or a Hyundai (Korean) crafted by workers in Alabama.
It’s a new world, people, where your import cars are transported by truck and your domestics arrive by sea. That’s the case with the 2008 Astra, built in Belgium and sold in some European countries under the Opel brand, and now delivered to these shores to be sold by Saturn dealers. There may be those who think a domestic car needs to be built in the U.S.A., but the impressive Astra makes a strong argument for GM reaching beyond our borders for competitive products. The Astra’s style and materials quality betters many of its competitors, foreign and domestic, and its European driving character is sure to attract budget-conscious buyers who don’t want to sacrifice fun for a lower base price. The fact that it comes in 3-door and 5-door variants with GM’s 100,000-mile powertrain warranty are yet further enticements that make Saturn’s new import worthy of consideration by anyone fishing the compact car waters.