It's all about location: Saturn Astra fuel economy impressions vary

Click the Astra for a high res gallery

The launch of the new Saturn Astra marked a turning point for GM's youngest brand as it finally abandoned the idea of making a different kind of American small car to compete with imports. The Astra is in fact an import produced in Europe by Opel. For its initial production run, Saturn is only offering the car with one engine, a 1.8L four cylinder, and a choice of either a 5 speed manual or 4 speed automatic transmission. Here at ABG we've only had a couple of brief opportunities to drive the new Astra and we'll try to get one for a full review soon. In the meantime, there are two other reviews up right now. Our pal Chris over on the Autoblog side of the house just had one and Canadian Driver also published their review. As Saturn's smallest car, the Astra would be expected to be efficient and compared to many cars on the road in the US right now it is. But context is everything. Chris managed to achieve 28mg during his week with the car while our colleagues to the north got 29.4mpg. Chris was actually impressed by the mileage beating all the other cars he has tested over the past year. Among cars available to Americans it's not in Prius territory, but it's not shabby. The Canadians on the other hand are used to significantly higher gas prices and more fuel efficient cars. As such, they saw the similar mileage as somewhat disappointing - which it is in comparison to what Euro Astra's can achieve with even smaller engines and diesels. Next year, the U.S. Astra will get a smaller 1.4L turbo engine with similar power to the current unit but improved economy and, hopefully, the four speed automatic will also go away in favor of a six speed.

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All photos Copyright ©2008 Chris Shunk / Weblogs, Inc.
[Sources: Autoblog, Canadian Driver]

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