Saturn's Astra Traveling on Dual Passports

2008 Saturn Astra Road Test Photos

Lawrence Ulrich from the New York Time drove the 2008 Saturn Astra 3-door XR earlier this spring and while he like the attention to detail in the interior – the "steering wheel controls, whose scroll wheels are dead ringers for Audi's, efficiently direct the radio, CD changer and trip computer" – he felt a more powerful engine should be available as an option. "Enthusiasts will need to scan the docks for a potential Saturn Red Line version based on the turbocharged Astras sold elsewhere in the world."

The Astra makes a strong opening argument with its oversize headlamps, steeply raked windshield and stylish flared hips. It comes as a two- or four-door hatchback; the cars are almost identical in size, with the four-door’s roof rising 1.5 inches higher. I drove both models over eight days of testing. Inside, the Astra presents an intelligent yet somewhat dour face; the coldly metallic center control panel reminded me of an old Marantz stereo. Yet the Astra does well by features, safety and craftsmanship. The seats are firm and well-shaped. The door panels and trim fit tightly.

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Saturn Teases with Aura Tidbits

In addition to announcing the name of Saturn's upcoming midsize sport-utility, Saturn General Manager Jill Lajdziak also confirmed that Saturn's 2007 midsize sedan, scheduled to enter production during summer 2006, will carry the name "Aura." The new sedan takes its name from the acclaimed concept car that also heavily influenced its interior and exterior design.