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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Report: GM Wants $2.4 Billion in Canadian Aid for Next-Generation Buick Regal

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Next-Generation Buick Regal

David Thomas from Cars.com Kicking Tires: If you think domestic automakers are only hitting up U.S. taxpayers for help, go north of the border. Canada's National Post newspaper reported today that General Motors is asking the Canadian government for $2.4 billion in aid. In exchange, it promises to bring a new Buick model — the Regal, which is already sold in China — to its Ontario plant for North American distribution. GM says it will position the Regal to compete with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, but doesn't say what its new LaCrosse — set to debut in Detroit next month — will be positioned against.