Saturn Astra Arrives Just in Time (Visit this link)
The market has shifted from trucks and SUVs to small fuel-efficient cars. This puts the Big Three automakers in a bind to retool back to cars and churn out fuel sippers to battle Honda, Hyundai, Mini, Suzuki and Toyota. Well, one domestic brand does not have to scramble to bring a new line of small fuel-efficient cars to the market. Saturn dumped the forgettable Ion and ushered in the all-new Astra. This model line is the intro into the Saturn brand and comes in three-door and five-door persuasions. I tested the three-door model that is available in top-line XR trim. In addition to its attractive styling, and decent fuel mileage, I discovered that the Astra XR three door is a ball to drive. Astra’s contemporary and appealing Euro styling is a breath of fresh air in the stale compact segment. Thankfully, GM used restraint in modifying the original Opel styling when they added Saturn badges and revised the front and rear ends. The contours and bodylines suggest a “spring forward” look. The arched rear windows and sloping tail ends in a hatch and the sport alloy wheels fit nicely under flared openings at the corners. This is one of the few compact cars that doesn’t look cheap or require you to ladle on aftermarket spoilers, scoops, wheels or ground effects to make it look better. The interior is cockpitlike, highlighted by a dramatic plunging “V” shaped center console. The designers were actually thinking here as the interior picks up on exterior styling cues to create a “linked” interior and exterior design. While it’s subtle, this is something you rarely see in a production car especially in the compact class.