German by Way of Tennessee

Mike Magrath from Edmunds.com drove the Saturn Astra XR 3-Door and thought that its "three-door hatchback style sends a strong sporting message." He liked its "stout German build quality" as well as its "autobahn-rated ride and handling." The 2008 Astra "doesn't change the game," he said, but it "plays it very, very well."

Like the musical stylings of David Hasselhoff or a dinner of bovine organs smothered in vinegar, the premium-class hatchback is a concept that Germans love, but Americans can't quite understand. The 2008 Saturn Astra XR hopes to change all that. When you consider the hard-core audience for the Volkswagen GTI in the U.S., it shouldn't be that hard to counter the image of entry-level crumminess that the hatchback has acquired over the years. Of course, BMW failed with the 1995 318Ti and Mercedes-Benz failed with the 2002 C230 Sport Coupe. But Saturn, the no-haggle lifestyle brand from Tennessee, has an ace up its sleeve. Or should we say ein ace. GM has raided its Opel and Vauxhall brands in Europe to bring back a quality small car, then give it a brand that inspires trust plus a price that doesn't inspire fear. Everything you need to learn about the character of the 2008 Saturn Astra XR can be found in its key fob. The switchblade style favored by VW lets you know that Saturn is thinking GTI here.

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2008 Vue Red Line Spied During Testing

Edmonds.com's InsideLine website reported last month that we may see undisguised versions of the 2008 Saturn Vue as early as the end of this coming November at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Spy photographers for the online publication captured pictures, as well as some good video clips, of two vehicles that are believed to be the new Vues undergoing testing in Death Valley, California.