Astra a "Solid Addition" to Saturn Stable

Saturn Astra XR 3-Door

Matthew Haase from the Canwest News Service really enjoyed driving the 2008 Saturn Astra. "This Euro-hatch can bring out the sporty driver in almost anyone," he wrote. "The Macpherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension provide a firm, but not jarring ride, allowing drivers to carve up corners with confidence."

My Astra XR tester didn't disappoint. On the outside, the five-door hatchback retains all of its edginess that sets it apart from its Japanese competitors and makes it such a huge hit in Europe. The sharp edges begin at the chrome front grille and carry their way back over the car, with just a hint of curves thrown in at the ends of the bodywork. Flared wheel arches give a slightly muscular look to the Astra. The arching roofline gives a sporty profile while leaving plenty of headroom front and rear. Small flashings of chrome appear along the sides of the Astra's beltline and on the hatch gate. Inside, the European style is apparent. Bits of aluminum-coloured trim carry across the dash into the door panels. A chunky, three-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel houses audio and computer control switches.

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Breaking News: GM to Focus on Core Brands, "Explore Alternatives" with Saturn

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General Motors presented a restructuring plan to Congress earlier this afternoon with hopes of receiving $12 billion in term loans that it believes will help ensure liquidity through the end of 2009. As part of the plan, General Motors revealed that it intends to focus on its "core brands" - Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC, and Buick. Pontiac will become a "specialty" brand that sells niche vehicles. Saturn, Saab, and Hummer will be closed or sold.