• Aug 14, 2006

Saturn's new small car, a version of the well-regarded Opel Astra, should be hitting the shores of North American sometime a bit beyond the middle of 2007. This will replace the not-so-well-regarded Ion, which is now scheduled to be produced through March of 2007 - three months longer than originally announced.

The name for Saturn's new compact has not yet been decided, but it may carry over the Ion name, or it may simply use the Astra nameplate. Either way, customers can expect to get the full-on European experience, as the vehicle is expected to arrive from Europe largely unmolested by the same sort of American twiddling that has doomed similar efforts in the past.

In 2008, production is expected to move to a stateside facility - most likely GM's Lordstown plant, where the Cobalt and G5 are produced. This may provide an opportunity for some of the Astra's DNA to improve the existing Delta platform compacts, and we'd be quite pleased if a few of those supercharged Ecotecs were to find their way under the Astra's hood as part of Saturn's Red Line high-performance lineup.

[Source: Detroit Free Press; Nashville Business Journal]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 31 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      You're right, Ryan, GM should have done his a long time ago. Seriously.

      GM should hope, though, that Honda and Toyota don't decide to start bringing their Accord and Camry wagons over at the same time.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I can't wait to see how Saturn/GM screws this up. They will. Big time.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I would only ever consider buying this car if they kept the Opel emblem. Rebadging it as a Saturn would be a great mistake! Consumers need to know that this is NOT a Saturn!! Even though I know that it's an Opel, you wouldn't catch me dead in car with a Saturn emblem on it! I think there might be a couple of people out there that would share my sentiment on this.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The Astra looks very up to the minute with current pace setting european designs.If it has German performance traits,a good reliability rating and value pricing Saturn may have found a winning identity.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "Opel and Vauxhall were both flops in the U.S. years ago"

      You are right of course, but wrong. When were these cars marketed here? The wrong time when no one really wanted a small car. Opel actually did much better than Vauxall right from the start and did well during the gas crunch of the 70' and early 80's. What really killed Opel was the Japanese invasion coupled with the exchange rates. It was very difficult for a european maker to compete with that as the exchange rate favored the Japanese at that time. VW tried to skirt the exchange problem by opening a plant here. If anything Opel and Vauxall were ahead of the times.

      As to using the "familiar" name using that theory Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick, Cadillac,Dodge,Ford should al be doing well.

      Regarding that "If you are a public company, you can't just kill a brand" Well, Oldsmobile, Plymouth come to mind pretty quickly. Then ask yourself about all the American brand names that are being used that are not American at all anymore.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I had number of Kadetts and Asconas back in Europe
      All of them were good cars and very cheap to maintain
      Last Kadett I had was Irmscher (Opel tunning division) with Recaro seats and sport suspension (16v with 160HP)
      Great car, very fun to drive
      I just hope GM doesn't change anything on the car
      If they do the same thing with Catera or LaMans, Opel will fail
      If car stays the way it is, GM will have something to fight best sellers
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think he's talking about the Corsa, brought over as the Pontiac LeMans, forever tarnishing a classic name, as American car companies are wont to do.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Richard, why kill Saturn in favor of Opel? Saturn, profitable or not, is a well-established brand now. Launching the Opel brand in the US would be a mammoth undertaking. Vauxhall didn't chang. No need for Saturn to do so, either.

      Also, the people I know who buy Saturns appear to be pretty loyal customers (i.e, they have more than one, and replace them with new Saturns). Why alienate them?

      If the new products are as good as advertised -- and count me among the optimists in this regard -- then THEY are what will bring profitability, not the presence of an Opel lightning bolt on the grille.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Hello--GM IS bringing Opel to the US (called Saturn). Geez, there's just no pleasing some of you :P
      • 8 Years Ago
      OK GM, you are finally getting it, this along with the Aura and the other new products will be a bonaza for Saturn and GM. They need to call it the Saturn Astra and get it here as quick as possible. I really like this car, and the whole Saturn line-up(not the Ion), to me it is one of the best in the entire industry.
      • 8 Years Ago
      If you are a public company, you can't just kill a brand. Brands have what the SEC and investors call goodwill. If you kill a brand you whipe, in the case of Saturn, billions of dollars off the value of your assets. Yes it seems crazy, but a name alone is an asset, it doesn't have to be a physical thing like a plant. To kill Olds, GM had to get the brand into a place where whiping out the goodwill was offset by the cost-savings of killing it. But that is something they are absolutely brilliant at.

      So, in Engerland in the 70s, Opel was sold as the sporty end of GMs range, and Vauxhall was seen as the bread and butter. As Pontiac "drives the excitement" in the US for GM, I don't see Opel appearing on these shores again.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'm not necessarily advocating E85, but if GM was smart they would give the incoming Astra the E85/FlexFuel compatibility, and pitch it as such. This would compliment the new Vue hybrid, and position Saturn as having more affordable, simpler, common-sense "greener" alternatives, vs. the Prius hype and pretensiousness. Didn't Saturn once propose having a "Green Line" as well as the "Red Line"? A good Cdi engine option could also be part of this strategy. The Saturn owners I know are a little bit, uh- "crunchy", anyway, (like old-school Subaru owners) so I think they'd go for (fall for?) this marketing approach.

      I've always thought of Saturn as the American brand most similar to Toyota anyway- sort of dull cars for people who really don't care that much about cars- they just want something that works, is inexpensive, and doesn't pose a lot of hassles. Not my cup of tea, but fine, there are lots of buyers like that.

      I think Saturn has a lot of room for growth, and of the American brands, mainstream buyers probably have a less-negative image of Saturn than other American brands. I think a lot of people still remember those "A Different Kind of Car Company" ads, and the no-haggle dealer experience, and all that stuff. While their product mix has been lacking for awhile, I think a lot of customers would be willing to give them a look if the product was good and met their needs.
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