Distinctive Styling Helps the Saturn Astra Stand Out in Crowded Marketplace

Wade Ozeroff from Sun Media drove a 5-door Saturn Astra XR a few weeks ago, and the Kingston Whig Standard just posted his review. While he enjoyed his most recent Astra experience, he said he prefers the car's standard 5-speed manual gearbox over the optional automatic that was included in his test car. "If I were buying the Astra," he wrote, "I would recommend opting for the standard issue five-speed manual, in order to get the most confident performance from the car."

With its distinctive outward styling and Euro-feel interior making it stand out in the field of economy hatchbacks in the North American market, the Belgian-built Astra is a refreshing change for Saturn's parent company GM. I have driven the full line of Astras since they came to this side of the Atlantic, and my test vehicle a few weeks back was the company's XR trim level, in five-door configuration. Equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission, and optioned up with enhanced electro-hydraulic steering, a big moonroof, seventeen-inch wheels and a lowered sports suspension, the tester showed off good looks and a sporty-for-a-gas-miser dollop of handling and road manners. Taking it from the inside out, the Astra displays a nice interior, well finished and upholstered in a rugged fabric. The cabin has good headroom in both rows of seats, and frankly, the five-door model is the way to go if you regularly transport passengers. My tester's big, rectangular moonroof allowed light into the rear seats through its dual glass panels, and kept the feel inside open and airy.

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Saturn "Rethink MPG" Ad Airs During the Olympics

General Motors has been a big sponsor of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games on NBC. There have been number of different GM ads being shown every night, including the critically-acclaimed 'Beautiful Blue' television spot, but tonight the company aired the 2009 version of Saturn's 'Rethink MPG' commercial just after the Men's 100m dash final.