2009 Saturn Astra Overview
The 2009 Saturn Astra family of three-door and five-door coupes is in its second model year, and the line continues to prove that when it comes to cars, you can do a lot worse than copying the Germans - in this case, GM's Opel line, which the Astra is essentially an Americanized copy of. Astra's imitation of the Opel brings in both the good and the bad from this jaunty German car - but mostly the good.
2009 Saturn Astra Performance
All Astra models come with a 1.8-liter GM Ecotec 4-cylinder engine, an innovative and advanced design that produces 138 horsepower with 125 foot-pounds of torque. That sounds like the type of motor you may find in a sputtering econobox - but the Astra's sophisticated valve design and light body mean that despite the low numbers, actual performance is not bad at all. In addition, the Astra's gearbox is designed to provide decent acceleration even at 70+ miles per hour, making passing a breeze even at highway speeds, and the manual transmission has a responsive feel.
In terms of road feel, the Saturn Astra has a jaunty edge, and its high-end shocks are a nice addition for such a modestly-priced vehicle. The precision of the engine and suspension design really comes out on the road, with fast and tight steering and nice bucket seats that keeps your body where you want it even in tight turns. The brakes are strong and provide great velocity control, and overall the car has a great feel on the road. It's a fun car to drive, maneuverable and zippy in city driving and quite adequate to zoom along the highway. In terms of fuel consumption, the Astra is a sipper - 24 city, 32 highway, which will make those long highway trips quite a bit cheaper.
2009 Saturn Astra Body and Interior
The car's external design is very attractive in both three and five-door models, and the Astra has a great standard features package. OnStar comes included and the Astra has traction control, a host of airbags, ABS, and electronic stabilizers. The German engineering shows in the automatic rain-detecting windshield wipers and tilt steering column. Interior features are sparse but of high quality and with a very solid feel. The Astra has power locks and windows, clear gauges, a driver information center, and extensive cargo space - the rear seats fold all the way down, producing a whopping 44.7 cubic feet for the five-door models, and 37.8 cubic feet for the three-door versions. With the seats up, there are 12 cubic feet under the hatchback.
2009 Saturn Astra Safety
The Saturn ASTRA has a large number of sophisticated safety features. Anti-lock brakes and a wide assortment of airbags come standard, and the StabiliTrak electronic stabilization system is available as an option (it's standard for the five-door XR version). An in-dash tire-pressure monitoring system lets drivers keep tabs on their inflation level, which can help eliminate unpleasant surprises. OnStar adds another level of safety. About the only flaw in the Astra's safety profile: the low roof line of the car makes visibility out the hatchback poor, especially on the three-door models, and the problem is compounded by rear headrests that block the driver's line of sight. Be careful backing up in your new Astra!
2009 Saturn Astra Options
There is a pretty good option list, although it will be hard to trick out the Astra as much as some other sporty cars in its class. For $1000 you can add a nice twin sunroof, high-end wheels and tires can be yours for $495, heated seats will run you $250 (recommended in cold climates, as the Astra's small engine doesn't drive the heater to maximum performance very fast), and a $695 'sport'? package that improves the suspension, adds bigger tires, and speeds up the steering system. For satellite radio you'll have to go aftermarket - the Astra's European origins hold it back here, and in addition there is no way to integrate your own MP3 player into the factory stereo. Audiophiles will definitely be doing a lot of work to upgrade the sound system.
2009 Saturn Astra Price and Value Assessment
The Astra is a nice little car, but the really amazing part is the price. The base model five-door XE starts at just $15,995 - a price point where you barely expect something that runs, let alone a sporty little coupe with decent performance and a great ride. The XR comes in at $17,545 and you can get the XR coupe for $18,495. The Astra makes a great city/highway combo for the utility driver, without sacrificing fun or features. Saturn has sold 500,000 Astras in overseas market since the introduction of the car in 2008; it's no surprise, and we expect to see high figures in the US market as well as the word about this sporty economy car gets around.