Popular European Car Comes to America as a Saturn

Jayne Williams the "Woman at the Wheel" for the Texas Star-Telegram drove the the 2008 Saturn Astra XR 3-door automatic and recently wrote about it. Her Astra test vehicle, she said, "is also more versatile than your average coupe, since the rear seat back folds in a 60/40 configuration and the hard cargo cover can be removed to make the whole area behind the front seats open up to haul lots of stuff, even smaller pieces of furniture if you load it carefully." She also liked all of the safety features packaged in the Astra.

As for safety, Astra is right up there with some higher priced vehicles. There is a dual frontal "passenger sensing" air bag system, head curtain side air bags (front and rear), side-impact air bags for the driver and front passenger, active front head restraints, and all seating positions have three-point restraint systems. There are also three tethers in the rear seat area for child safety seats. Since tire pressure is also a factor in driving safety and fuel economy, there is a tire-pressure monitor. And there are rain-sensing windshield wipers (in case you don’t happen to notice that you can’t see through the rain-streaked glass), rear-window wiper and washer, projector-beam fog lamps, daytime running lamps and automatic headlamps. One of the best features, especially for women, is the Astra’s standard OnStar system. Having OnStar is like having a guardian angel you can actually communicate with.

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Watch the Astra Unveiling

It was unveiled earlier this month at the Chicago Auto Show, but if you weren't there to see it in person, now is your chance. Enjoy the video below of the media debut of the 2008 Saturn Astra 3- and 5-door hatchbacks. Both models replace this existing Ion sedan and quad coupe. They will be available at Saturn stores later this year.