• Jun 6th 2008 at 7:58AM
  • 21
While sales of the newly-minted (at least for the U.S.) Saturn Astra aren't exactly setting the world on fire, we found it to be a rather good vehicle with a chassis capable of handling plenty more power when we had it in our garage. Auto Express has what they claim is an official picture of the next-gen Vauxhall Astra VXR, which is sold in its base-model form as a Saturn in the states, and it looks pretty good. Expected in Europe is a new 1.8-liter turbocharged engine sending around 240 horsepower to the front wheels and possibly a diesel as well. These engine are not currently certified for sale in the U.S., but GM's excellent 260 horsepower 2.0-liter Ecotec, as is available in the HHR SS, is ready and waiting -- and we'd love to see a Saturn Astra Redline powered by it. We'd be more than happy to see the attractive nineteen inch rims and aggressive body kit make it stateside too. As evidenced by today's current crop of hot hatches, such as the Volkswagen GTI and Mazdaspeed3, a small performance car, when done right, can sell in the U.S. Auto Express also indicates that this vehicle is likely to be shown in concept form at the upcoming Paris Motor Show in October.
[Source: Auto Express]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago

      I test drove an Astra last Friday afternoon - the Saturn dealer on the Southwest Frwy. here in Houston has a ton of them. I drove a silver 5 door XR with a 5 spd. manual and a huge sunroof. If it had XM and an iPod jack straight from the factory, I'd actually almost consider trading in my tired old GMC Jimmy on it, but the lack of those things makes me a little hesitant. (I'm also waiting a little longer to see what the 2009 and 10 models of this and other cars look like).

      Either way, GM needs to really market this car better. I never see any commercials for it - and friends who I told that I test drove an Astra have no idea what it was (and these are professionals in their 20s and 30s, just the kind of people GM needs to grab to away from their Civics and VW's). I think those who are in the market for a Civic or a VW Rabbit should give this car a serious look - it's pretty well built and looks really good in person and drives pretty well.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I tipped them on this story in AE three days ago and didn't get as much as a titter in return! Gits!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Even if the current Saturn doesn't sell well now a least it's bring in younger buyer to Saturn and GM brands.If Saturn does produce a full range RedLine models sales and image will benefit.Sharing with Opel-Vauxhall is great for Saturn and great for GM.
      Can't wait to see the next Astra & Saab 9-1.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I love hatchbacks and I'm glad to see that GM isn't afraid to give some people a choice. I agree that because of the dollar issue the Astra should be built in the USA. As for sales, I have yet to see one on a lot. When I went to two local dealers they couldnt even give me any reading material on the car. They Could give me some on the vue, but thats not what i asked for. Sales staff are going to have a hard time converting to the mind set that Small cars are having a sales increase. They still want to push the big profit makers.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Lets see, take the old low cost Saturn and raise the prices, hence why should they sell. Saturn sales are off 32% from a year ago.

      The Astra replaced the crappy ION and lets see, it sold 3200 units in May of 08 whereas they sold 23,000 IONs the year before in May. The only winner is the Aura and many people are probably going to take the Malibu over it on price.

      GM repositioned Saturn out of the pricing realm of its traditional buyers. That and keeping the no haggle full MSRP isn't going to win many converts. I can't recall the last car I paid MSRP for, I didn't realize anyone still paid that
      • 7 Years Ago
      the astra vxr has been out for a couple of years already and i dont see them bothering exporting it the the usa if sales of the current 1.8 version are anything to go by.the vxr has pretty low sales even here where the astra is very popular. i'd say 8/10 astras in the uk are diesel models anyway and thats where all the budget in refinement and technonolgy is going, not the small petrol engines, so if american buyers want a newer better astra theres 2 choices, 1) use mediocre petrol engines .. 2) buy diesel.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The 1.4L turbo petrol engine will probably rival the diesel's f/e, and in the USA diesel is nearly 1 USD more per gallon than gasoline, so a diesel engine is a hard sell to anyone other than guys with trucks that need to yank fifth wheels or horse trailers.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The Astra is not currently a volume car for Saturn, they expect to sell 15,000 to 20,000 in a year. This will change if production is moved to the U.S. and a sedan/wagon are added to the vehicle mix. Astra is now finally showing up on retailers lots, up until now the supply has been short. You will not pay MSRP for the vehicle if you visit a Saturn Retailer, there are allowances on the vehicle as there are allowances on all the Saturn models. No haggle pricing does not mean you pay MSRP it only means that for a like vehicle everyone pays the same price, there is a difference. it simplifies the process of buying and allows the consumer to make easy comparisions to the market. I drive a 5 sp XR 5 door, paid around $18,500 for the vehicle, it is well equipped, sunroof, loads of standard equipment, upgraded stereo and am averaging 32 MPG in combination driving. What is not to like about this car? Nothing!!!
        • 7 Years Ago
        @ Frylock
        The Astra gets better city MPG (24 for the Astra vs the Cobalt's 22), and the Cobalt is about as fast as the Astra, despite the huge torque advantage that the Cobalt has. And the 36MPG rating is for manual only, so the 36 MPG comes from gearing the transmission a bit on the tall side.
        • 7 Years Ago
        the only gripe I would have is that it doesn't have Cobalt's drivetrain. Cobalt XFE has a 2.2L 5sp with 150hp. Its faster and more efficient than Astra, so GM has no reason not to install that engine in the Astra.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I agree with what someone else said in another post. Can Saturn and just convert all of the dealerships to Opel dealerships. Or at the very least, can all of the American Saturn models and just mirror the Opel/Vauxhall lineup.
        • 7 Years Ago
        "Or at the very least, can all of the American Saturn models and just mirror the Opel/Vauxhall lineup." - inteller

        Umm, that's basically what they are doing. The Outlook is the only current Saturn that doesn't have an Opel counterpart.

        Even though Opel has been a US nameplate in years past, I don't think it makes sense to re-introduce it and get rid of Saturn. People now know Saturn, it's been around long enough to be recognizable.

        Opel, on the other hand, is fast fading from American's brains. For one, most people have fairly short memories and I'd venture to say that at least half of all Americans have no idea that Opels were ever sold here. Heck, a good number of them wouldn't even know that their Saturn is based on a European Opel as it is now.

        Just because most of us posting here are car-savvy, we shouldn't over-estimate the American car-buying public.

        The second major reason I have for keeping Saturn around is cost. GM cannot afford to dissolve one brand(didn't it cost over a Billion dollars to kill Olds?) while also devoting even more cash to start up another brand. That's a very tough idea to sell even to a strong automaker, much less a financially struggling one. Makes very little sense to me. I think so long as Satrn continues along their European-influenced designs and models, I think they will continue to get stronger in the US. Especially with other automakers(Ford) starting to look that direction for influence as well.
      • 7 Years Ago
      If $4/gallon gas means more hot hatchbacks in the US, and less big stupid SUVs and trucks (I drive a small car and ride a motorcycle)... I love $4/gallon gas.

      In all seriousness I haven't even considered a GM car in a LONG time... but this would be at the top of my list to check out if it were to be as quick as its good looks suggest (and if we get it).
        • 7 Years Ago
        With $4 gas it's forcing people out of "bling-bling" SUVs, but on the other side its hurting transport ,trucking , and companies that specialize in shipping goods(Like FedEx and UPS). While its nice to see SUV's off the road, high gas prices are also hurting us when we make a trip to the grocery store, only to see that the price of your favorite cereal shot up overnight.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Along that same logic, an Excursion isn't required to transport one person to work and back every day either.

        There are a lot of valid uses for large vehicles, but I'd be willing to bet you my life that there are more large trucks and SUVs in the US WITHOUT hitch receivers on them than with.

        I drive through a lot of suburban sprawl neighborhoods every day on my 1 hour trek to work... almost all of them have two land yachs sitting in the driveway, but I don't see many boats.
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