'08 Saturn Astra Overview

The 2008 Saturn Astra adds to Saturn's growing product portfolio as the fifth all-new product since early 2006. It is a unique offering in the American compact car segment that melds an unmistakably European driving feel with Saturn's unparalleled ownership experience.

The Saturn Astra is based on Europe's popular, award-winning model that was developed in Germany to satisfy some very demanding driving tastes. Those driving dynamics have been fine-tuned for North America and combine with a great package of style, refinement and technology to make the Saturn Astra one of America's most eye-catching and fun-to-drive cars.

"The Astra is a great car that underscores what the revitalized Saturn product portfolio is all about: bold vehicles with a distinctly European flavor," said Jill Lajdziak, Saturn general manager. "In Europe, the Astra has become a popular car with the young and young at heart, thanks to impeccable dynamics that translate very well in North America."

The Astra is packed with a wide range of standard equipment and safety features – including segment exclusives and features uncommon to other cars in the segment. It is offered in three-door and five-door models, each tuned to deliver sharp, responsive ride and handling traits, and power comes from a 138-horsepower 1.8L Ecotec four-cylinder that is both energetic and economical.

Astra goes on sale this fall, with a starting price of $15,995 (including destination) for the XE five-door model. The XR five-door is priced at $17,545 and the sport-tuned XR three-door starts at $18,495. All models offer a range of options that enhance the satisfying driving experience, including a segment-largest dual-panel sunroof, a choice of audio systems and plus-sized wheel-and-tire packages.

"The Astra's package of great design and refined dynamics will appeal to longtime Saturn owners, who grew with us with cars such as the original SL models, as well as to customers who are new to a Saturn showroom," said Lajdziak.

Saturn Signature Styling

The Astra has a clean, contemporary design that is infused with Saturn's signature styling cues, including a bold, bright grille bar with prominent Saturn logo. Two trim levels are offered for five-door models – XE and XR – and a single trim – XR – in the three-door configuration, which was created with more enthusiastic drivers in mind.

Exterior design features are driven by the Astra's long wheelbase and wide stance, which pushed the wheels to the corners and enabled designers to "wrap" the sheet metal over the chassis for a lean, taut appearance. Also, a number of details reinforce the Astra's vehicle's attention to detail, including detailed, multi-plane headlamps and selective use of bright work.

Safety Features

Safety was a paramount priority during development and the Astra features a comprehensive list of safety systems to help protect occupants in the event of a crash, including:

  • Rigid body structure with safety cage
  • Six standard air bags, including dual-stage frontal air bags with passenger sensing system; roof rail head curtain air bags and thorax/pelvic air bags (front-seat passengers)
  • Active head restraints
  • Pedal Release System
  • Front safety belt pretensioners and load limiters
  • OnStar with one year of Safe & Sound service

The Astra offers technologies that support safety while also helping to provide an agile, yet comfortable, driving experience. StabiliTrak electronic stability control system with traction control, for example, is standard on all three-door Astras, and available on five-door models.

Driver-Focused Details

All models convey the Astra's sporting character through firm, well-supported seats and a thick, three-spoke steering wheel with rake and telescopic adjustments. Ahead of the steering wheel is a rounded cockpit binnacle that houses a large, three-dimensional gauge cluster – including large speedometer and tachometer dials. The sporty Astra three-door receives specific seats with more aggressive bolsters and lumbar support.

Additional interior highlights include:

  • Available heated seats in cloth or leather surfaces
  • Auxiliary 12-volt power outlet
  • Easy-to-remove rear cargo cover
  • Power door locks (with central locking feature) and power windows with express down feature
  • Steering wheel-mounted audio controls (on XR models)
  • Dual visor vanity mirrors with covers and lights
  • Removable rear cargo cover
  • Illuminated glove box with damped door actuation

Astra's bold proportions provide exceptional roominess and generous storage capacity. Each side of the 60/40-split folding rear seat also folds with the touch of a high-mounted lever. With both rear seat sides folded, the five-door Astra offers 44.7 cubic feet of storage space.

Fun-Loving Sunroof and Audio Choices

Spirited, sun-loving customers will enjoy the segment-largest dual-panel sunroof, which provides an airy, open driving experience. The sunroof is power operated and can be configured in several modes to suit passengers' sun-worshipping requests; it also includes a power-operated mesh shade that allows passengers to adjust the amount of light streaming through the sunroof.

In the audio department, the Astra is available with several premium choices, including the standard AM/FM/CD player, an available AM/FM stereo with CD and MP3 disc playback and an AM/FM stereo with a six-disc CD changer, MP3 disc playback and enhanced information display – the latter teamed with a seven-speaker premium speaker system. Steering-wheel audio controls are standard on XR models.

Saturn's Product Revitalization

The '08 Astra represents an important step in Saturn's product revitalization plans; it is the fifth product in a complete revamp of the brand's product lineup. In fact, when the Astra arrives in showrooms later this year, the "oldest" vehicle in Saturn's portfolio will be the Sky roadster, which debuted in March 2006. Other new models include the all-new Aura sedan and Aura Green Line hybrid, the redesigned Vue SUV, including the Vue Green Line hybrid, and the Outlook crossover.

Source: Saturn

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