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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Bob Lutz Kisses Saturn's Astra, Has an Aura and Sky in His Garage

Bob Lutz Kisses Saturn's Astra, Has an Aura and Sky in His Garage

GM vice chairman Robert Lutz poses with his lips up against the side of a 2008 Saturn Astra XR. The brand says he was among the first Saturn fans to submit a photo for the "Kiss My Astra" national photo contest. As an employee of General Motors, however, Mr. Lutz in not eligible to win.