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Old 04-02-2008, 02:59 PM   #1
gordonwd
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Default My New Non-Astra (long)

I'm not posting this as any kind of a slam, but more in hopes that GM can see what they might have to do to the Astra to catch up with the competition, especially on the higher end.

I have been a member of this forum since I bought my son an SL2 over 4 years ago. We all liked that car, and about a year ago my wife and I had our sights set on an Aura, although my wife (who would be driving it) was not too enthused about it. She was wishing for something smaller, but most small U.S. cars tend to be "cheap".

Well, life intervened with a couple of crises (including the SL2 being totalled), and when we started shopping again we found out about the Astra and got really excited about it. It was the perfect size and style. There were a number of things we didn't particularly like, but figured it was the best we could do, and were all set to buy one until we took that GM-sponsored test drive and happened to drive the Mazda3 that they had there. We both had the same impression: this car had everything that we found missing in the Astra!

So last weekend we took delivery of our new Mazda3 GT 5-door. There are some pictures below, but here are some of the things that it has that are missing (I think) or not done as well on the Astra XR:
  • Color choices (subjective, obviously)
  • 156HP engine, 5-speed automatic
  • Climate control
  • Power driver's seat
  • Normal-size sunroof (our preference)
  • Center console with deep storage, large glovebox
  • Usable cup holders in console, doors, and rear armrest
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Xenon headlights & LED tailights
  • Really cool nighttime interior lighting (blue/orange)
  • Moveable panels to partition rear storage area in several ways
  • Lighted vanity mirrors
  • Traction & stability control
  • Bose stereo with MP3-CD changer, iPod jack

In fact, I think it's got just about everything that my BMW 325i has (except the emblem, of course). Not only that, but this is the 2008.5 model and there will be a total redesign about a year from now.

By the way, this car did sticker for $23.5, so is about $3K-4K more than the XR and maybe isn't an entirely fair comparison. But it was a lot less than the Audi A3 that we also looked at. I think that Saturn has something going for it with the Astra, but might think about bringing over a model at a higher trim level.

Mazda3 Grand Touring in Copper Red:



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Old 04-02-2008, 03:08 PM   #2
skydrive
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Default Re: My New Non-Astra (long)

Congrats on the car. The 3 is the best looking small car on the market to my eyes with the Astra being a very close second. In fact, I prefer the 3 sedan to the 5-door but both are very handsome. I think you've made a good choice. The Astra is a very good car but not quite "there". I'm sure the next gen model will address some of the current car's shortcomings.
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Old 04-02-2008, 03:14 PM   #3
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Default Re: My New Non-Astra (long)

Quote:
Originally Posted by gordonwd View Post
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Traction & stability control
  • Lighted vanity mirrors
  • Really cool nighttime interior lighting (amber)
  • multiple cargo nets to partition the rear storage area.
  • heated seats and mirrors
The above are on the XR Astra.

The Mazda3 GT 5 door was my other choice (I have a '03 Protege5), but the Astra drove so much better and quieter than the 3 that we decided the differences were not enough to make the Mazda the first choice.
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Old 04-02-2008, 03:26 PM   #4
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Default Re: My New Non-Astra (long)

I agree that you made the right choice, cuz you got what you wanted. For me, the handling and stability control were very important, and the Astra has those, other things i don't much care about. I am not sure i woulda paid 4K more (and gotten no discount) for some of those things.
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Old 04-02-2008, 03:30 PM   #5
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Default Re: My New Non-Astra (long)

Quote:
Originally Posted by gordonwd View Post
So last weekend we took delivery of our new Mazda3 GT 5-door. There are some pictures below, but here are some of the things that it has that are missing (I think) or not done as well on the Astra XR:
  • Color choices (subjective, obviously)
  • 156HP engine, 5-speed automatic
  • Climate control
  • Power driver's seat
  • Normal-size sunroof (our preference)
  • Center console with deep storage, large glovebox
  • Usable cup holders in console, doors, and rear armrest
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Xenon headlights & LED tailights
  • Really cool nighttime interior lighting (blue/orange)
  • Moveable panels to partition rear storage area in several ways
  • Lighted vanity mirrors
  • Traction & stability control
  • Bose stereo with MP3-CD changer, iPod jack

The Mazda 3 is a nice car, I just wanted to point out that the Astra does have some of the features you listed like the traction and stability control (option) lighted vanity mirrors, a very large glovebox and I believe the lights are xeon as well. The last one I could be wrong about, but they are very bright, far brighter than my SC1's lights anyway.

I'm not trying to knock the Mazda but I wanted to list things I like about my Astra (we could meet up and compare cars, I'm in Rochester all the time )
  • Heated seats
  • Power everything
  • Key and clicker in one unit
  • Remote windows down (up would be nice, but I guess someone deemed that unsafe)
  • Information display with tripometers and timers and mpg calculators and such
  • The thing corners like a champ
  • heated side mirrors
  • rain sense wipers
  • cup-holders that help keep me from splashing and messing up my car... Didn't like them at first, but why do I need two big gulps at fingers reach from me anyway?
  • And finally, I haven't seen a single other one of these on the road.
I'm glad I didn't jump on the Caliper for my hatchback choice, I see like 20 of those a day, and in placese like Rochester it is way worse, everyone is leasing the new "now" car, and no one is unique, us Astra owners (at least in the states) have a very unique car, in that no one has seen it, and I always get looks.

In all sincerity I'm not starting a flame war, congrats on your new car, it looks great!
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Old 04-02-2008, 03:40 PM   #6
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Default Re: My New Non-Astra (long)

Since it is the car you want, you made an excellent choice.

The Mazda 3 was on our "short list" right up to the moment that we selected the Astra XR5. IMHO, the two are definitely competitive and the choice is a very subjective one. Whichever one you like, for whatever reason, is the one you should be driving.
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Old 04-02-2008, 03:54 PM   #7
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Default Re: My New Non-Astra (long)

Quote:
Originally Posted by bitz_dv View Post
The Mazda 3 is a nice car, I just wanted to point out that the Astra does have some of the features you listed like the traction and stability control (option) lighted vanity mirrors, a very large glovebox and I believe the lights are xeon as well. The last one I could be wrong about, but they are very bright, far brighter than my SC1's lights anyway....
The headlamps in the Astra are halogen but do shine through projector lens and that does give them a sort-of HID look. I'm thinking though that since the projectors are already installed, it probably wouldn't be too difficult to add in some aftermarket xenon headlamps to the Astra.
...
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black sapphire, manual
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Old 04-02-2008, 04:09 PM   #8
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Default Poor choice

I think you made a poor decision on the Mazda 3, not only did you purchase an inferior vehicle but you foolishly paid more for it. Your post referred to various features that the Mazda had that the Astra supposedly did not have, well you are mistaken as the Astra does indeed have many of those features. Perhaps as you realize your folly you can use the excuse of just being misinformed. The Saturn has most of of those features that you claim it does not have.

The Mazda does not have the quality of the Saturn Astra. This statement is hard to quantify but can be justified by those that have had experiences with the Mazda. After driving dozens and dozens of Mazda's I know that Mazda 3 is going to lose it's form at around 60K miles. The engine is going to start burning oil/making a ratty sound and many of the components will need replacement. You foolishly missed out on the two year window of getting the European made Astra for the price of an American made economy car. The Astra has the quality European made feel that the Mazda lacks. You can feel quality in every aspect of the Astra. From the tight as a witches tit steering, the heavy doors, and the sporty European suspension. The Astra is like a 27K BMW for 19K, it is a real steal and GM is eating the currency exchange on your behalf.
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Old 04-02-2008, 05:31 PM   #9
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Default Re: My New Non-Astra (long)

The Mazda 3 is definitely competitive with the Astra. However, I chose the Astra over the Mazda 3 because I prefer agility and fuel efficiency over power and acceleration. The astra gets 20% better mileage than the mazda 3 and VW rabbit. And it saved me, a poor graduate student, at least $2000.

I think the Astra is a nice compromise between a performance hatchback (mazda 3, rabbit/GTI) and a economy hatchback (yaris, fit, versa, rio5), but compromise tends to make a lot of people unhappy, unfortunately.
...
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Old 04-02-2008, 06:49 PM   #10
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Default Re: Poor choice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samyn View Post
I think you made a poor decision on the Mazda 3, not only did you purchase an inferior vehicle but you foolishly paid more for it.
I guess he should shoot himself now.
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Old 04-02-2008, 06:52 PM   #11
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Default Re: My New Non-Astra (long)

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Originally Posted by ad_astra View Post
The Mazda 3 is definitely competitive with the Astra. However, I chose the Astra over the Mazda 3 because I prefer agility and fuel efficiency over power and acceleration.
Your assuming that the Mazda 3 is not agile.
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Old 04-02-2008, 07:03 PM   #12
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Default Re: My New Non-Astra (long)

Picking the Mazda 3 makes sense. In addition to the reasons you listed it also has a longer reputation here. If the Astra is as poor reliability wise as the L series was don't come complaining. The price was likely equivalent to an Astra because you'd have to add all of the XRs options to equal the typical discounted price of your Mazda (about $22K for both)
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Old 04-02-2008, 07:33 PM   #13
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Default Re: Poor choice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samyn View Post
The Astra is like a 27K BMW for 19K, it is a real steal and GM is eating the currency exchange on your behalf.
And driving themselves to bankruptcy even quicker for doing it.
Ford sold 21168 Focus in March 2008 compared to 17065 in March 2007 a 24% gain
The combined sales of the Cobalt, G5 and Astra was 15302 in March 2008 compared to 25064 for the Cobalt, G5, and Ion combined in March 2007.
Which means that if GM had just kept the ION and superficially redesigned the Cobalt their sales would be at least 10% higher now than in 2007 because all the recently redesigned small cars are enjoying a sales increase. Ford Focus, Nissan Sentra, Hyundai Elantra, Honda Civic, Dodge Caliber, Kia Spectra are all up.
The Corolla is down likely because buyers are waiting for 2009 models to come in.
The Cobalt and Mazda3 are down most likely because these models are getting a bit old.
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:21 PM   #14
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Default Re: Poor choice

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Originally Posted by davidsky View Post
Which means that if GM had just kept the ION and superficially redesigned the Cobalt their sales would be at least 10% higher now than in 2007 because all the recently redesigned small cars are enjoying a sales increase.
Your points are valid, and I've started this reply three times now and keep coming back to one thought.

The Astra is a driver's car and there are very few real drivers in the US now. This may well be the downfall of the Saturn Astra. The Astra is more about quality and handling. I think the Astra's qualities will still be enjoyable when it has been in my garage after ten years. I can't say that for the vehicles you cited. I am rather tired of the '07 Civic EX I have been driving and it has been a very reliable car these last 11 years. Unfortunately for GM, this car is an absolute steal right now. Fortunately for GM, It probably won't sell well enough to harm them.

One more thought: I predict that GM will ruin the Astra in the redesign for 2010. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think so.
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:22 PM   #15
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Default Re: Poor choice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samyn View Post
I think you made a poor decision on the Mazda 3, not only did you purchase an inferior vehicle but you foolishly paid more for it. .

Did he? Well, maybe if he paid cash. If he financed he was also getting:

2008 MAZDA3 4-Door and 5-Door
1.9% APR for up to 36 MONTHS OR
3.9% APR for up to 60 MONTHS

If he leased, the Astra is about $400 per month due to poor residual value and no incentives. The more expensive Mazda is running about $100 less per month. Right now you would be crazy, or really bad at math, to lease an Astra.

This is why Saturn needs to be offering incentives across the board, including Astra.
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:36 PM   #16
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Default Re: Poor choice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamis View Post
....
One more thought: I predict that GM will ruin the Astra in the redesign for 2010. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think so.
This is one of reasons I chose to buy the Euro Astra now instead of waiting for the redesign in a few years. Even if the next-gen Astra comes with more power and options, I have a feeling it's going to be very Cobaltized when and if they start building them here. Like you, Iím hoping GM proves us wrong, I suppose time will tell. Delta II does sound promising.
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:57 PM   #17
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Default Re: Poor choice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cap138 View Post
This is one of reasons I chose to buy the Euro Astra now instead of waiting for the redesign in a few years. Even if the next-gen Astra comes with more power and options, I have a feeling it's going to be very Cobaltized when and if they start building them here. Like you, Iím hoping GM proves us wrong, I suppose time will tell. Delta II does sound promising.
Thats just what GM needs to do, Cobaltize the Astra to keep the price down. They could start by putting in a cheaper stereo, no display, take away the cruse control and power windows. Oh and most importantly, they should make it look really cool on the outside, then use really crummy material on the inside... :sarcasm: Sorry, what they did to the Cobalt to save a few pennies, I couldn't stand that car when I test drove it (and that is the one I came there wanting). I agree with Cap and Jamis, GM will likely ruin this car, and we should consider ourselves lucky to get a vehicle that has hardly been Americanized from one of the big three. Now if only they made the diesel version!
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Old 04-02-2008, 11:02 PM   #18
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Default Re: My New Non-Astra (long)

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hey -- that's next door to the Saturn retailer where I got my 2002 SC2 sometimes I walk over to the Mazda store and test drive stuff when my Saturn is in for service. unfortunately they recognize me now so I'll have to visit the Nissan store next time...
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Old 04-03-2008, 08:35 AM   #19
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Default Re: My New Non-Astra (long)

Nice car!
If I would have been in the market for a 5 door that would have been high on my list. I work with a couple of guy's that have them and they love 'em.
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Old 04-03-2008, 08:54 AM   #20
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Default Re: My New Non-Astra (long)

The Mazda 3 is a very nice car. You should yell at GM NA for not offering the things on your list as it does come with all of them except LED lights and cup holders.
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