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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
http://www.king5.com/video/index.html?nvid=234753


The Saturn Astra sports Euro style



10:23 AM PDT on Thursday, April 10, 2008


By TOM VOELK / Special to NWCN.com





Video: The Saturn Astra sports Euro style
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Back in 1993 GM announced a new division to attract buyers who had defected to import brands. When sales began in 1990, Saturn was certainly a grand laboratory. Showrooms had set prices and with the no-haggle price policy, picking out a car was akin to shopping for a pair of pants. Plastic body panels meant no more door dings. These cars were built in a happy place called Spring Hill and buyers attended annual pilgrimages to celebrate the birthplace of their automobile and chow down on barbeque. Even the ads had a feel good glow.


It all started out so well, but soon GM stopped delivering new products and the line up became as barren as the ringed planet itself. It seemed the end was near when GM folded the once independent Saturn into the corporate structure. Hey, everyone knows that the behemoth that is General Motors isn't nimble enough to deliver relevant product. Right?
Well a funny thing happened. GM got its mojo back and in the last year and a half this division has been reborn in a breathtaking manner. All of the cars parked in the showroom are new and some of the models, like the large Outlook crossover and Sky roadster, compete in segments that Saturn never dreamed of before. Now comes Astra, which replaces Ion and completes the makeover. Remember, Saturn's original mission was to conquer the imports and their current ad slogan is "re-think American." Astra was designed in Germany by Opel and built in Belgium. Oh, the irony.
Ultimately this is all good. Astra has been well regarded across the pond and it makes sense for The General to use its resources wisely. Our new Vue is the Opel Antara and the Aura is largely based on the Vectra. The U.S. reciprocates by shipping the Sky to Europe where it's badged as the Opel GT. But Astra is different in that it retains a very thick Teutonic accent. Consult your Berlitz book for the controls because the unusual symbols on the steering wheel and instrument panel are like nothing we get have in the states. There's a button labeled BC. What’s a BC? That’s "board computer" to you Dieter and it's essentially a trip computer not a reference to the Stone Age. Nudge the turn signals slightly and you get a BMW-esque three blinks for lane changing.

NWCN
With its useful hatchback design, Astra competes against cars like Matrix, Vibe, Mazda3 and Rabbit.


More evidence of its mother country origins? The seat backs have precise but slow wheel adjustments for rake, power lock controls are on the instrument panel, and the flip out key reminds me of the ones used by VW. The cabin with its decent plastics and faux aluminum trim is all business.
Not all that is Euro is good though. Our distant cousins don't tend to eat or drink while driving let alone apply makeup or catch up on their reading. Perhaps because of that there's only one cup holder for those up front to squabble over and it's an awkward reach backward for the driver. No closed center console storage either. I'd like to see red and blue color coding for the temp controls and apparently the Germans don't have iPods since there's no audio input. The quality of the info display for the BC is rudimentary. Finally, there's no built in Bluetooth handsfree for cell phones.
Generally cars from Deutschland are rewarding on the road and in corners the front drive Astra is fun and flingable. Opt for the $695 Sport Handling Package that's on my tester and StabiliTrak Stability Control, lowered sport-tuned suspension, and 17-inch aluminum wheels with performance tires come along for the well controlled ride. The cabin is moderately quiet at freeway speeds but getting up to cruising velocity will take a little longer than some of the competitors. All Astras are powered by 138 horse 4-cylinder. It would be more fun with 20 more pferde (that’s German for horses). Stay out of the left lane on the autobahn, OK? Standard anti lock brakes do a nice job of securely scrubbing off speed. OnStar service is standard too (the Safe and Sound package is free for one year). The standard transmission in my tester is a 5-speed manual, the optional automatic at $1,325 is a 4-speed. For those keeping score, these gears are one short of many of the competitors
Sun worshipers will take a shine to the huge panoramic sunroof that you won't find on cars two or even three times the Astra's price. It would be a shame to pass on this huge glass panel, it can be yours for only $1,200 plus the price of the rest of the car of course. My tester happens to sticker for $21,500 and remember that Saturn has a no-haggle price policy. Say auf wiedersehen to those plastic body panels though, all Saturns wear sheetmetal now.
Four grownups will be quite comfortable in the Astra, the moderately bolstered cloth seats are well done. Put a fifth adult in the rear middle seat and they should be on the thinner side to keep personal space issues to a minimum but really it's not bad. There's no center armrest in the rear (or the front for that matter) but at least there's a headrest. Basic cup holders that pop out of the rear cushion look like they will lose when going up against my kids. Naturally the seats do what cars in thippeals to many. The euro hieroglyphics in the cabin are beginning to feel familiar after my week's stay with the entry level Saturn. With a starting price of 16 grand for the XE, 18K for the XR and $18,995 for the XR 3-door, a bunch of Astras should get their passports stamped here in the states.
 

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I have seen a few around here. Quality is decent but they are by no means overally good looking. I would say more sensibly designed, but a little blah (unless it is in the right colors). Same goes for the interior; well made, but simple. I know it is a good car but it is not going to blow the competition away.
 

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I saw a 5-door upclose last week. I was sort of underwhelmed by its exterior. It's something about those doors.

I think the 3-door version may look better.
 

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That sunroof is impressive..........but THIS is what I would have liked to have seen come over here..............




One of the neatest windscreen treatments since the early '60's from GM!

Maybe sometime...............:(
 

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It's pretty sad that you haven't heard of that slang in use. Get out much?

:confused:
I believe the word is "overly" not "overally"

seriously, I love the Astra. I would have been tempted to drive off the lot with one if it had more power. The handling is very crisp and the clutch is very easy to use.
 

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I like that 91 s-10baja is a News Contributor, for whatever that statement is worth. I like his contributions to this site.

I dunno, I want to like this Astra, and in three-door mode it comes across pretty well. But something seems lacking about it, though I can't place my finger on it. I'm not sure if it's the combination of a relatively high price, a relatively anemic powertrain, the rather forgettable exterior design of the five-door, or the somewhat stark-appearing interior plastics. Unlike how the the reporter feels, I'm not bothered so much by some carryover German characteristics (e.g., "BC" switch on the dash).

It's pretty sad that you haven't heard of that slang in use. Get out much?
Yes, lots of words have made it into the English vernacular, but using or recognizing neologisms is not per se evidence of social intelligence. I particularly like pseudo-intellectual speak like "conversate" and other words that show just how well socialized (ahem) people are.

I'll gladly pass, thank you very much.
 

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overally? You win the creative language award of the week.
Ha, ha! That's what happens when you post at 2:32 a.m.! I even had a laugh... ;)

:)

It cracks me up, to speak in intellectual-eze, just how crazy some people get over one word posted at 2:32 in the morning. Ha, ha! The amount of spelling, diction and syntax issues on most postings on this site and one word throws people into a frenzy. Funny stuff, indeed.

Back to the Astra...Which, in five-door form as I have only seen it, is underwhelming. It really does not look new. Not bad, just boring. And I have seen it in a couple of colors now. I am sure the driving dynamics are good, but it will not win any style awards. The three-door might hold hope from the pics I have seen.
 
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Orverall, a pretty positive review, with the typical shots (If he dosen't find anything wrong he's not doing his job).

This should appeal to my typical import-leaning Seattle consumer, who wants to stand out from the crowd.

Although, I still do wrestle with the intent of the Saturn brand now. If I remember Saturn was started by GM to experiement with different manufacturing techniques to learn from, and compete with, the Japanese manufacturing techniques. I wonder if the rest of the American buying consumer likewise struggles with the intent of Saturn. With that said, I'd still like to see Chevy get a variant of this. Although this competes with the Mazda 3, I'd like to see a more "track-ready" version to compete with the Mazda 3 Speed. Overall, a pretty impressive, well-appointed "cute-hatch".
 

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the 3 door ones actually are one of the best looking cars of that type when you see them in person, in black they look best.
photos and vids dont do them justice at all
 

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That sunroof is impressive..........but THIS is what I would have liked to have seen come over here..............




One of the neatest windscreen treatments since the early '60's from GM!

Maybe sometime...............:(
looks like they done even have rear view mirror etc?
 

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That sunroof is impressive..........but THIS is what I would have liked to have seen come over here..............




One of the neatest windscreen treatments since the early '60's from GM!

Maybe sometime...............:(

Damn US safety standards!
 

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That sunroof is impressive..........but THIS is what I would have liked to have seen come over here..............




One of the neatest windscreen treatments since the early '60's from GM!

Maybe sometime...............:(

I agree 110%!!!

My sister is actually looking into buying one of these.. i think shes down to either the new Focus or a Astra 5-Door.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
what happens when the sun is blinding you? No visors, and I always sit on my sunglasses.....sigh.
 

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I saw a 5-door upclose last week. I was sort of underwhelmed by its exterior. It's something about those doors.

I think the 3-door version may look better.
I agree. It's a small car to begin with and then with no trunk it looks like the rear doors reach the rear bumper. The car is all doors from the side. On the other hand I think the 3 door is very attractive and sporty looking. The interior is decent but needs a big improvement with the next gen.
 

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I hope GM makes the 3-door's massive windshield an option for '09...
 

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I just want different interior color schemes.
 
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