Click above for high-res gallery of the 2008 Saturn Astra XR
Car buyers here in the States are clamoring for fuel efficient transportation, but so far the Saturn Astra hasn't been on the top of buyers lists. The Astra is a smash hit in Europe and we liked it during its short stay in the Autoblog Garage, but it may just be too expensive compared to the competition with a starting price of $16,495. General Motors isn't keeping the price high to make a profit on the small volume import, either. GM vice chairman and quote master Bob Lutz told Automotive News that the Belgian-made Astra isn't profitable in the U.S. at all anymore due to the weak value of the Dollar vs. the Euro. The Astra has gone up in price by $500 since its introduction to reflect the broadening gap between the two currencies, and the price hike was implemented only to lessen the hit from the currency exchange. The Astra is not just a financial burden for the General – it isn't exactly a sales success, either. GM has sold only 7,914 so far this year, which is far below the projected pace of 25,000 annual units. Part of the problem is that few people actually know the Astra exists, and those who do may not want to pay the relatively high price of entry. If you've driven or own an Astra, let us know what you think of it in the comments.
Related GalleryReview: 2008 Saturn Astra XR
[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]