• Dec 8, 2006
At a GM function Autoblog attended Wednesday night, Mark LaNeve, in his remarks to the assembled media, mentioned the Astra by name when responding to a question about Saturn. That was the first time we'd heard anyone from GM refer to the forthcoming Ion replacement by its Opel moniker in a Saturn context, and given LaNeve's stature, we took notice. We caught up with him later on and asked if "Saturn Astra" was indeed the official name, and he responded that it was being "heavily considered."

Well, he certainly wasn't kidding, as Thursday brought the official announcement that the new hatch will retain the Astra branding. When you consider that the name was kept for both the Holden and Vauxhall versions, this isn't really a big surprise. With the Ion being the the stylistic horror show that it was (this writer maintains that the Dodge Caliber looks like a Lamborghini Miura by comparison), saddling its replacement with the old name would have been the marketing equivalent of draping an albatross around its neck right out of the gate.

More commentary, plus GM's official announcement after the jump. Read on!

[Source: GM]

So -- crisis averted, and the US gets its first look at the Saturn Astra at the Chicago Auto Show, where both 3- and 5-door versions will be on hand. In Europe, Astra is also available as a wagon, a notchback sedan, a C+C, and an extraordinarily spiffy glass-roofed Panoramic model.

We asked LaNeve if GM would consider the introduction of additional bodystyles to supplement the hatch. His response was yes, over time. "Over time" is intentionally vague, of course. GM is obviously going to wait and see what kind of marketplace traction it gets with Astra before it commits resources to expanding the model's North American lineup. Still, color us enthused. Astra is, after all, a fully-developed product and well-known commodity in other markets. If it's a success, it shouldn't be that difficult to introduce existing variants here. We'll gleefully speculate on which ones at a later date. Right now, we're content to know that both hatchbacks are headed our way for the model's launch. We thought we'd wind up with the sedan, which would have been such the "old GM" thing to do.

We don't miss the old GM. Nor will we miss one of its poster children, the Saturn Ion, to whom we say, "Good riddance." Close that door behind you, okay?



PRESS RELEASE:

Saturn Astra To Join Lineup In Late 2007
New small car to complete turnover of vehicle lineup in less than two years

DETROIT - Saturn confirmed today that it will add the Astra compact car to its lineup late in 2007, marking an important stage in its product revitalization plan. When the 2008 Astra joins the Sky, Aura, Outlook and all-new Vue, no Saturn will have been in the market more than 20 months, giving the brand one of the freshest product lineups in the industry.

"The Astra is a great fit for Saturn, with its European style and driving dynamics," said Jill Lajdziak, Saturn general manager. "It also signals our efforts to get new vehicles to market quickly and reinvent the entire Saturn product lineup with unprecedented speed."

The Saturn Astra will be nearly identical to the 2007.5 Opel Astra, unveiled this week at the Bologna Motor Show in Italy. It will be sold in the United States and Canada in three-door and five-door configurations.

The Astra is part of the larger collaboration between Saturn and Opel. By sharing resources from throughout GM's global network of design and engineering centers, the two brands can develop strong, broad product lineups that will attract buyers to the brands both in North America and Europe. Early examples of this collaboration include the Saturn Sky and upcoming Opel GT, as well as the Opel Antara and 2008 Saturn Vue.

"The Astra enables Saturn to occupy a unique position in the marketplace and to strategically broaden its appeal with consumers who usually have import brands on their shopping lists," said Lajdziak. "Saturn's partnership with Opel is a natural way to expand our lineup with relevant products that will attract new buyers into our showrooms."

More information will be available when Saturn unveils the 2008 Astra at the Chicago Auto Show in February 2007.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 44 Comments
      Ben Beauvais
      • 8 Years Ago
      Wait, BMWs look good agian?

      ANYWAY, i would love a C+C or the pano-roof astra. OH, and i dont think they are trying to out sell the civic... i heard somewhere that Saturn is trying to have a more "up-market" image, which, while dificult, with GREAT product (not saying they have it, yet, but they have a very good start), can be done. I think this will sell better than the ion on looks alone.
      • 8 Years Ago
      This is great news for Saturn. The car looks great but I'm surprised they're bringing the hatchback versions to North America first considering our love of sedans (although I prefer the hatchbacks). Why did they change the grill too? It looks better in the euro version.

      However the Astra still looks very good and I think I'd consider an Astra 5 door over a Mazda3 hatchback (which in my mind is the current class leader).Saturn has a devoted legion of fans and its about time Saturn started giving them something competitive to cheer for. I'm really begining to like their new lineup.
      • 8 Years Ago
      http://www.gm.com/company/gmability/adv_tech/100_news/astra_011005.html

      Bring this one over!

      Wonder if they're going to be built in Spring Hill......
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think Thor was once named Paul.

      He or She is here to:

      A) Get a rise out of people
      B) Get a paycheck from Toyota or Honda's PR department
      C) Get out his freakish anti-social feelings on those of us who drive GM cars because he couldn't score in his Daddy's Pontiac.
      OR
      D) Get out her freakish anti-social feelings on those of us who drive GM cars because she scored in her Daddy's Pontiac and had a bad experience.
      • 8 Years Ago
      YESSSSSSS!!! I kept drooling at the Vauxhall Astra VXR 3-dr when I read Top Gear. Now we have it!!! Can you say 'Saturn Astra Red Line 3-Dr'?

      Awesome news for hot-hatch fans.

      • 8 Years Ago
      As mentioned before why not the 4-door sedan version as well? If GM will spend all that money getting it certified for the U.S., why not as well bring the sedan and coupe versions (which better fit U.S. tastes)? Why does GM always have to take half-right decisions. Bringing the Astra is a good decision; but brining only the hatchback versions when sedan, coupe and convertible already exists is a blunder. What is someone who wants a small sedan to do? Buy a Civic or Corolla? Even Toyota has a Yaris 4 door sedan version.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Now I have something to dream about.
      • 8 Years Ago
      reply to 39

      The Cobalt is build on the GM Delta platform, like the Astra... The GM Delta platform is 100% developt by Opel Germany and used partly the old Astra platform as a basic. There is nothing US at the Astra... but a lot of Germany in the Cobalt.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #17, without resorting to your silliness, I still state that you and Thor's OPINIONS on styling are nothing more than that -- opinion.
      When you say Lexus drives like a Buick, state which Lexus you're talking about. When you state Infiniti looks like excrement, state which one you're talking about. When you're used to driving POS, as you obviously are, why are you even uttering the letters BMW? And we can compare photos of wives/girlfriends all day long -- I seriously doubt you'd be able to hold a candle to what I can display, little man.
      Better luck next time my ass. You're just a little internet jackass who get his rocks off by writing things you'd NEVER say in someone's face. Stick to talking about cars, and you'll be alright.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Saturn’s Lineup is spectacular. I work at Saturn as a Sales Consultant and we have a phenomenal Product. From talking with customers who have purchased a SKY and AURA from myself they have traded in their BMW's and AUDI's and they absolutely love the Car. Everyone has their opinion and just figured I would post mine. Its a great european ride and loaded features extremly safe car at an extremly reasonable price.
      • 8 Years Ago
      More info

      GM Unwraps the New Saturn Astra, the Company's Small Car of the Future

      DETROIT (AP) -- A new Saturn small car that will arrive in showrooms late next year is an example of how General Motors Corp. can pool its global resources to roll out high-quality new products at a faster pace, company officials said.

      On Thursday night, GM gave reporters a sneak peak at the Saturn Astra, which is nearly identical to the 2007 Opel Astra unveiled earlier this week in Italy. Further details on the sleek-looking Saturn, which will share underpinnings with the next-generation Chevrolet and Pontiac compacts, will not be released until the Chicago Auto Show in February, GM said.

      The three- and five-door Astras, which will replace the aging Saturn Ion, were designed by GM engineers in Russelsheim, Germany, and will be built in Antwerp, Belgium, GM said.

      "The Astra is a great fit for Saturn, with its European style and driving dynamics," Jill Lajdziak, Saturn general manager, said in a statement. "It also signals our efforts to get new vehicles to market quickly and reinvent the entire Saturn product lineup with unprecedented speed," she said.

      With the new car, Saturn will have refreshed its whole product line in less than two years, GM said.

      Pete Hastings, an auto industry corporate bonds analyst with Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. in Memphis, Tenn., said building the Astra for sale globally will save GM valuable capital dollars.

      "I think the cars coming out of the GM Design Center, they've got their act together. They've got the right idea in going forward with the global platform for the cost savings and taking the best from around the world and putting them into these offerings," he said.
        • 6 Years Ago
        It kind of funny, that they at Opel started to export the Astra H into the US almost !!5!! years after it has shown up in Europe.. We in Europe are waiting for the next generation, so you guys get the old one? :PP All in all its a great car (and not even a small one, its a medium size car), and with the 2.0l turbo ecotec it can even run really well (2.0L GTC, or 2.0 Turbo OPC) OPEL 4 LIFE!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Gentlemen...I have never owned or lusted over a GM product (well the Corvette maybe..)but if ASTRA arrives here in Canada (and the US) things will change!

      I go to Greece twice a year and I rent cars from Hertz Hellas (they feature Opels). On more than a few occasions the Opel ASTRA 5 door was my choice.

      I can attest that a family of 4 with about 3 and a half pieces of luggage in the back is very comfortable in this "little" car. The interior is at par with all the other compacts available in Europe (perhaps second to the VW products in quality but very good nonetheless). I would definitely consider owning this 5-door after my Mazda6 lease expires provided GM does not mess things up...just stick the Saturn logo on it and leave the rest the way it is!

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