Parts – US/Canadian 3%, Germany 35%, Hungary 17%, Transmission – Japan.
Assembly – Antwerpen, Belgium
Class: – Compact Crossover
Cars: – Astra, Aura, Aura GL Hybrid, Icon, Outlook, Relay, Sky, Vue and Vue
“An Automotive Love Affair”
By Joseph Mavilia 2008 Saturn Astra 3 Door XR
This week we’re looking at the 2008 Saturn Astra 3-Door XR compact crossover
built in Belgium based on Opel’s Astra. So this is the US version of that
European car which is built well for Euro budget conscious consumers.
I found its interior equipment and features control layout to be foreign as
well and not to my liking. I won’t bore you with the details because after a
week I could get by but they just weren’t as intuitive and friendly as they
could be for US consumers generally. The guy in charge of the development
team for the US version, Don Straitiff is said to have done little to make
it more acceptable to American consumers. I’m sure it was more budget based
than thinking it was all that different from other cars sold in America.
I was watching the news the other day and they were talking with SUV owners
at the gas pump and one young man said of the gas prices, “I didn’t see it
coming”. The DMV should take that guys license away because he has to be a
bit blind. But I would say to him, now that you are strapped with $4 gas on
the way to world market prices of up to $8 a gallon don’t panic. Don’t dump
the SUV because for the loss you’d take on selling it right now you can buy
a Smart car from Mercedes Benz that is the rage of Europe for $11,000 that
gets about 50 mpg. Drive it commuting and when you have to pull the boat or
motorcycle trailer take the truck/SUV.
Handling & Performance:
The automatic transmission has a unique Neutral Idle feature that shifts
into neutral whenever the car is stopped and idling, thereby eliminating
It has nice handling characteristics from the front engine front wheel drive
and braking is excellent because of larger disc brakes. The European Opel
version has smaller discs that tend to squeak. It seems American consumers
are more picky about squeaky brakes.
There is something of a European flair in the look to offset the lousy
Fit and Finish:
Very good as you’d expect from most European products.
Not bad and the good news is there is a crowd of competition in this
Features and Conveniences:
Large cargo area for this compact and usability is enhanced with easy fold
Resource – www.safercar.gov
Because you’re in the market for a car you need to look at the hottest class
and any of these will be a better investment when it comes time for resale.
The Smart Car will do better on fuel consumption but it is only a two seater
and really doesn’t belong in the mix. But if 2 seats is ok it is the best on
gas of all listed.
Saturn Astra $16-18,000, Honda Civic $15-25,000, Mazda 3 $14-20,000, Pontiac
G5 $15-20,000, Dodge Caliber $14-23,000, Chevrolet Cobalt $14-22,000,
Hyundai Elantra $14-16,000, Volkswagen Rabbit $16-18,000, Kia Rio
$11-14,000, Ford Focus $14-17,000, Toyota Corolla $15-20,000, Suzuki SX4
$15-17,000, Suzuki Forenza Wagon $15-16,000, Suzuki Reno $14,000, Mitsubishi
Lancer $14-18,000, Nissan Sentra $16-20,000, Kia Spectra 5 $15,995, Scion tC
$17,000, MINI Cooper $18-25,000, Mini Clubman $20-23,000, Smart fortwo
Decent fuel economy and roomy.
Annoying controls and pricing will be rigid as demand is escalating with
every increase in gas prices.
1.8 liter 4-cylinder 138 hp engine, 4-speed Aisin auto trans, 18″ alloy
wheels, ABS disc brakes, vehicle stability control, premium trim package
including leather heated seats, leather wrapped steering wheel, advanced
audio package with 6-disc CD player and MP3 format.
MSRP $17,875 and as equipped above $21,035.