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Old 08-26-2007, 06:49 PM   #1
A.J
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Lightbulb 2008 Saturn Astra - Background


For most of the world, the 2008 Saturn Astra is old news. The car already exists in Europe as the Opel Astra, England as the Vauxhall Astra and in Australia and New Zealand as the Holden…can you guess? Yup, it's the Astra there, too. We Americans are just the most recent recipient of GM's world car, ours with a Saturn badge.

Although we've recently spotted the Saturn Astra during its final phases of testing here in America, it was back in October 2006 that we first learned that the successful compact will retain its Astra name in the U.S. Two months later GM officially announced its intent to sell the car in North America.

The 2008 Saturn Astra will be largely unchanged from its Opel counterpart. And based on previous attempts at bringing the Delta chassis over, like the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion, that's a wise move. Opel designers were allowed a lot of freedom and the result is a clean and European look that GM doesn't intend to meddle with in America.

Despite technically being a domestic car here in the U.S., the 2008 Saturn Astra will be built in Antwerp, Belgium. Its unveiling at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show confirmed that redesigned bumpers, to meet Stateside regulations, are the only real aesthetic change.

It will come with a 1.8-liter Ecotec inline-4 with 140 horsepower, which puts it right on par with the base Civic. But it falls short of the Volkswagen Rabbit by 10 hp and the Mazda 3 by as much as 16. We can only hope GM brings over the more sporting turbocharged 2.0-liter 170-hp mill for the Saturn Astra Red Line. Or the 237-hp Holden Special Vehicles version dealt in Australia.

Bringing the Astra to America is the no-brainer GM should have pulled years ago. More than half a million Astras have been sold in Europe alone last year, and it's a quantum leap forward from the 2007 Saturn Ion it replaces. More than just an economical Honda Civic alternative, the Astra is a darling among tuners overseas, including German tuners Steinmetz and Lumma. The large following is a stark contrast to the relatively small market share GM has in the American sport compact scene.

The Astra will arrive in both three- and five-door flavors, the former being deliberately sportier. The European three-door comes with a Sport switch, which tightens up the steering and throttle response, like that in our
long-term Mini Cooper S. America may eventually see the Astra Panoramic, which features a cockpitlike windshield that sweeps overhead. Also a distant possibility is the innovative Astra Twin Top, which features a retractable, three-piece hard top, and would compete with the hard-topped
2007 Volkswagen Eos.

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Old 08-27-2007, 04:32 PM   #2
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No pics of it?

an Astra sounds like a mini van...

I did own a opel in Germany...do I count as an expert?

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Old 09-03-2007, 08:53 PM   #3
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Nope not a minivan and if you type astra into any search engine or go look on Saturn.com you'll find all the pictures you little heart desires. Hey just look at all the threads right here and you should see all of the pictures you'd like.
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Old 02-07-2008, 05:34 PM   #4
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Oh, most interesting. I didn't know that it was the same basic car as the other Astras. This really is a workhorse of a car-you know in the UK many police forces use it.
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Old 02-13-2008, 02:38 AM   #5
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Its really an adorable little car. I find the term three and five door misleading though, I was hoping for another SC2 with the little mini door and cried when I realized they meant the hatch back.
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Old 02-14-2008, 12:34 AM   #6
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Oh, I guess that could be misleading. I grew up with those terms and so for me they make sense. After all I don't see where else a third door could be put other than on the boot.
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