European Original Poised to be Serious Contender for Saturn Against Corolla, Civic, Focus

2008 Saturn Astra XR 5-Door

Ben McAllister from Towson University's independent newspaper, the Towerlight, test drove a fully loaded five-door Astra XE with moon roof, heated cloth seats, and alloy wheels. What was his overall impression? "The Astra is poised to slay giants," he concluded an the end of his review.

The Astra's engine, with a full 12-horsepower advantage over the Corolla, is nicely muffled from inside. It felt well-sorted through fast corners, with a responsive small-diameter steering wheel and grippy disc brakes on all four wheels. First gear felt a little limp, and second gear didn't bite into the road like I would have liked, but once the Astra is in motion, it has more than enough get-up-and-go. It's a $20,900 Saturn, though, not a $95,000 Maserati. So I can't complain about a slight lack of oomph early in the power-band. The fuel efficiency of the Astra is on par with the Japanese eco-brawlers. Opt for an automatic transmission and you'll get 24 city / 30 highway. The manual does two mpg better in highway driving. That's world class right there. Saturn has finally matured into a cost-effective alternative brand, and the Astra is all geared up to duke it out with the likes of the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, and Ford Focus. It's going to be quite a fight. Place your bets and grab a malted beverage.

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Flashback Friday: 2000 Saturn CV1 Concept

Flashback Friday: 2000 Saturn CV1 Concept

The CV1 - so named because it was Saturn's first real concept vehicle - explored new vehicle packaging and design features, many of which would end up playing an important role as Saturn grew its product lineup. Notable features found on the CV1 that eventually made it into production on other Saturn vehicles were the center-mounted instrument cluster (Ion), continuously variable transmission (Ion and Vue), flat-folding passenger seat (Vue), all-wheel-drive (Vue and Outlook), and LED tail-lights (Aura).