2009 Saturn Astra Test Drive: Small Car, Big Chops

2009 Saturn Astra

Jim McCraw from Popular Mechanics: It didn't start out this way, but the low-price, no-haggle Saturn division of General Motors has effectively become the American sales arm of GM's German Opel division. Saturn already sells a version of Opel's GT roadster as the Saturn Sky, and a version of the Opel Antera crossover as the Saturn Vue. The latest fruit of this collaboration is the Saturn Astra family of three-door and five-door hatchbacks. Saturn's hugely popular Astra, which sells more than 500,000 units a year markets outside the United States, is almost a direct lift of the German product: a new grille, steering wheel hub, wheel centers, tailgate graphics — that's about it. And while there's good news and bad news in that formula, the good wins out by a considerable margin.

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Editor's Notebook: 2008 Saturn Astra 3-Door

Read Automobile magazine's David Yochum's comments on driving the 2008 Saturn Astra 3-Door: I've heard all the warnings about the Astra's European interior labels, the weird center door-unlock button, and the extremely weak engine. But you know what? It also comes with its own cachet.