Is Opel's Astra the next Saturn Ion?

Although the New York Auto Show provided plenty of flash for General Motors' Saturn brand, ranging from the PreVue concept to the Sky Red Line, the missing link in Saturn's future lineup remains a replacement for its soon-to-depart Ion entry-level model.

Back in February, rumors had GM renaming the model the "Evoke" and moving production from Saturn's Spring Hill, Tennessee facility to Lordstown, Ohio-- trading in the Ion's plastic bodywork for steel in the process. The Evoke was said to be based on the Chevrolet Cobalt platform, perhaps with European styling based on Opel models, but that plan has been scuttled.

Given the new-found level of integration between Saturn and Opel championed by GM's product czar Bob Lutz, the latest speculation is that the Ion replacement will be a rebadged Opel Astra (pictured). The Astra, like the Cobalt/Ion, is powered by GM's Ecotec engine family. (Read all about the Astra here.)

Given the delay in making a decision on an entry-level model for Saturn, dealers are already looking at a gap between the end of Ion production and the availability of its replacement. With time running out to make a decision, we're guessing that a rebadged Astra is the odds-on favorite to be the next entry-level Saturn.

[Source: AutoWeek]

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