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The 2007 Saturn Aura is a critical car for General Motors; GM will even tell you that to your face. It represents a solid break for Saturn towards the European-inspired brand that it should be. By leveraging the resources of Opel in Europe, GM was able to bring a vehicle with European character to a brand that desperately needed direction. To that end, GM is reinventing Saturn, while still maintaining its no-hassle, no-haggle pricing. Clearly aimed at import-intenders who would normally shop for an Accord, Camry, or Passat, the Aura is representative of this new direction. There will also be an Aura Greenline offered later in 2007 that will use a mild-hybrid powerplant similar to the one found in the Vue Greenline.

There are two trim levels for the Aura. The XE is the base model, with a revised version of GM's OHV V6 that displaces 3510 cc and produces 224 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 220 ft-lbs. at 4,000 rpm, which finds its way to the ground via a 4-speed automatic transmission. The XE is supposed to start around $20,595. The Aura XR, meanwhile, is the top of the line model, receiving motivation from a 3.6-liter DOHC V6 that produces 252 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 251 ft-lbs. at 3,200 rpm. It is paired with GM's new six-speed automatic transmission. The XR also has an optional Morocco Brown interior trim that adds brown leather to the seating surfaces with matching trim on the doors, which definitely lends character to the interior space. Pricing for the XR will start just under $25,000.

Enough with these details, you're probably wondering how it drives. Saturn has its competitors clearly targeted, because the Aura combines a hushed interior at speed with sporting reflexes. In the XR, the 3.6L DOHC V6 provides more than enough smooth power to satisfy any midsize sedan buyer. The standard V6 in the XE isn't too shabby either, but clearly the XR's larger V6 is a competent competitor to the engines offered by Honda and Nissan. Don't get us wrong, we'd still rather have the XE's standard V6 over a four-cylinder, especially if we can't select a manual transmission with the four.

The suspension tuning is sporty on the XR, but is a tad softer on the XE. Actually, in either case, it is a good compromise between control and comfort. This is in contrast to what both Honda and VW have done with their latest models, moving toward softer suspension packages while loosing a little feedback for the driver. The Aura does an excellent job of making the driver feel in control while still providing a comfortable ride. In one instance, we were progressing rapidly down an uneven country road with our new found friend from a Spanish language lifestyle magazine. The cabin of the XE was quiet, and the ride was smooth. So smooth and quiet in fact, that we got a little wrapped up in our conversation about the beautiful countryside. That was until a sharp corner snuck up on us. With a quick expletive, and a flip of the steering wheel, the Aura sent us sailing safely through the corner. Profanity isn't necessary to unleash the car's potential, as we would find out behind the wheel of our own high horsepower XR. Back on the country road, we weren't adverse to whomping on the accelerator to feel our backs press against the seat. A few makeshift speed runs did show there was a little bit of torque steer off the line, but once up to speed the Aura was as solid as a bank vault up to the century mark. Our bravado gave out before the Aura, as we didn't want to find out what would happen if a tractor popped out into our 1.5 lane stretch of twisty tarmac.

The interior is of high quality overall. It is tastefully designed, but we would trade out the fake wood for a metallic finish on the dash. There are a couple short comings that we noticed, as well. Once you step into the vehicle, you're greeted with this nice interior, but when you go to put the key in the ignition, you're introduced to a cheap feeling ignition switch. The key slot seems to be made of tin. Couldn't they have spent a little more money on a better ignition switch? It's a blemish on what is otherwise a nice interior experience. Also, the instrument cluster could also be a little more upscale. Sure, laugh it up, but there is a certain appeal that comes from a well designed and illuminated IP. Go sit in a new VW or Honda and you will see what we mean.

It's nice to see the face of an Opel on our roads, and we hope to see more models with that familiar visage. On the flip side, it's little disappointed to see the derrière of a Pontiac. Who ever decided to ditch the Opel taillight arrangement might be kicking themselves when consumers see too much G6 in the Aura's design. The rest of the design is clean and tasteful, albeit a little bland from some angles. The Aura certainly doesn't offend, but we wonder what Saturn may do to enhance the exterior if they produce a Redline variant.

Overall, the new 2007 Aura is a clear step in the right direction for both Saturn and GM. Now, if they can keep up this practice of bringing Opels to the U.S., we might just see more Saturns on the road than ever.

If you'd like more information on the Aura, try visiting the car's space on Saturn's website here.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      The Aura has far more in common with the G6 than with any Opel. As far as I can tell, the only thing it shares with the Opel Vectra is similar front end styling--no sheetmetal is shared between the two.

      There could be a lower trim level with a four-cylinder in the future. But the DOHC four probably costs more to produce than the OHV V6.

      My site's page for the Aura, with links to my review and the most popular price comparisons:

      • 8 Years Ago
      #10 "Ed, GM did attempt to sell Opels here under the Opel name in the 1970s and it failed miserably."

      Buick sold Opels from about 1960-1975 when GM replaced it with an Opel based design built by Isuzu. Hardly a failure.
      • 8 Years Ago
      JH is an asshole and is just the kind of automaton idiot whose perception doesn't catch up to reality for 6 years! The Pontiac Solstice is on a new platform that has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE OPEL SPEEDSTER, WHICH HAS COMMON ANCESTRY WITH LOTUS! This is where the SKY got it's underpinnings.
      The Aura is on a reengineered Epsilon chassis which will come to Malibu, G6, and SAAB 9-3 in the next year.
      Only the replacement for the Ion, called Astra, will be an actual IMPORT, BUT IT'S ON A REENGINEERING OF THE ION'S DELTA CHASSIS.
      The first responders to this blog already corrected the writer of the article!
      This is what's wrong with America from the President on down nobody knows what the fuck they're talking about, just what they READ that day.
      Commit suicide, JH, because you're DUMB.
      The fact is, the last Camry SUCKED, with a horrible interior and flaccid ride. It ranked consistentlty BEHIND MALIBU IN CAR & DRIVER, MOTOR TREND, AND ROAD & TRACK COMPARISONS. The '07 couldn't come fast enough!
      The last Civic was such a shit-job that tuners REJECTED IT, BECAUSE IT "FELT LIKE A MINIVAN TO DRIVE"! It had THE WORST PLASTIC INTERIOR IN HONDA HISTORY. The new model let Honda fans breathe a needed sigh of relief, because the Cobalt was BETTER THAN the old Civic.
      So when you finally wake up and realize that the Honda/Toyota price markup is no longer valid, and that you're being ripped off (except in NY where we know the deal and the salesmen START WITH INVOICE!) YOU WILL SEE THAT IMPORT SHIT ISN'T AUTOMATICALLY BETTER ANYMORE, JUST LIKE CALIFORNIA WINE IS JUST AS GOOD AS FRENCH OR ITALIAN.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Ok. Last night I test drove a base Aura. It was a pleasing looking car with a nice interior. The engine was pretty smooth and very responsive. The car braked well and felt fairly solid. The engine was pretty quiet, much quieter than an Altima. Perhaps not quite as quiet as a Camry, but then again, a Camry is as much fun to drive as a cardboard box. In some ways the Aura felt like an Accord, but had a more elegant design. However, the base model was not luxury class. It was, however, another practical alternative to the Camry and Accord. The car was fun to drive, but I think the XR would have been a better choice, even at several thousand more. Priced competively with the Accord and Camry and loaded with great standard equipment, it is easy to see why everyone says this is a car worth considering.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Ed, GM did attempt to sell Opels here under the Opel name in the 1970s and it failed miserably.

      Saturn is an established brand name in North America and it's more sensible and less costly to have it as an outlet for Opels (like Vauxhall in the UK and Holden in AUS) than to fight all the current franchise owners and then convince new franchise owners to take up an unknown brand.

      As for the Aura, it's a great car for a great price. But the lack of projectors (which every other Saturn has) and the other elements toned down from the concept leaves me scratching my head a little. If it had the flares and wheel style of the concept it would make a great car an even greater looking car, and help it's chances even more.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Phil - Thanks for stuffing a figurative sock in DH's mouth. Funny that he hasn't uttered a peep since he was revealed for the incompetent fake that he is. Sources have it that he was just a digruntled ex-GM autoworker that doesn't want to accept the reality that GM needs to be more competitive in the global auto market and that includes cutting the exhorbitant costs linked to a spoiled workforce who seem to exist in an alternate reality from the average joe.

      Good riddance.
      • 8 Years Ago
      If you're the new rebadge, then learn to spell to go with it, Ed.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Why not just drop the Saturn name and just bring back Opel. Saturn's have been shitboxes since they started and while your at it drop the Pontac name too...no never mind just sell GM to someone who knows what there doing not just rebadgeing. Better yet just call yourself General Rebadge! HAY LOOK I'm driveing the new Rebadge.
      • 8 Years Ago
      On I75 going in to Detroit there's a big billboard with a Vue, a Sky, and an Aura on it and it says "IMPORTS FEAR THIS" in huge letters.

      Pretty funny considering they put a Honda engine in one fo the Vues, and both the Sky and the Aura are rebadges from IMPORTED European cars.

      Imports fear what? That one day GM might buy your parent company and bring you to the US as a Saturn?

      Give me a break GM - you suck.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'd like to hear from people who DID own Saturn's last Opel-derived design, the LS series. (or whatever the Vectra derived thing was called) I test drove one once and it felt cheap and poorly assembled, the engine made an industrial racket and the body made a lot of vibration/noise. It seemed about $10k too expensive, particularly compared with the Passat/Taurus Wagons.

      I did make the mistake of buying the last Opel product sold here, the Cadillac Catera, the Caddy that sucks. It was a nice car, beautifully finished, great drive, but apparently made out of fragilium alloys. Very expensive and constant headaches, so I don't think Opel design heritage is much of a plus.

      I wonder who GM thinks is going to buy this. What is supposed to be the advantage over it's competitors? It's a fairly ordinary 4- door sedan with none of the durability/resale REPUTATION of the Camcord, lacks the sportiness of the Mazda Turbo 6, doesn't have the cachet of a VW and doesn't have the price advantage of a Hyundai or even a Taurus. They should have gone with a distinctive design similar to the Caliber, which despite lackluster reviews is selling well.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Some people are determined to hate GM, the Worlds Largest Car Maker.. and an American Company. With Saturn, they have attempted Great Service, Great Sales...and now extremely competitive product worthy of a look. Some say Saturns are lackluster cars...yet there seems to be many on the road that are many many years old. When I hear that Toyota and Honda are above reproach I wonder: does American know about the recalls on the Prius and Civic? The 3 Hondas on the governments lemon law list? The other major Toyota recalls and questions about it's recall officials? I think some people drive thier racism and hatred of their own country. They have gotten so foriegn they don't know how to be domestic. Even if it good for them, their country.... and the product is PERFECT! YIKES!!
      • 8 Years Ago
      I had a chance to testdrive an XE. It's a nice car, with a ton of standard features, including 6 airbags. It was definately sportier than most fwd sedans and very, very quiet.

      As a comparison, I liked it much better than the Mazda 6 that I rented for a week when I was on vacation. The aura was quicker and had a better field of vision.

      The XR would be even better.
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