Saturn Astra Disappoints

Posted by: David Kiley on April 3, 2008

astra.jpg

I wanted to like the Saturn Astra. I like the brand. I liked driving the Opel version. It’s a cool design. It has European roots. So, what happened?

I drove the manual transmission version of the car for the better part of a week. The first thing I felt was a car with a flabbier suspension than I expected or hoped for. I was hoping for a taut handling sub-compact to replace the Ion rental special Saturn mercifully discontinued. Not so much. My top choice in this segment is the Nissan Versa, followed by the Honda Fit.

And the manual tranny? Is this really the one Opel uses in Europe, or did they dumb it down? Unless you buy an up-market car in Detroit, the manuals you get in cars like the Saturn and Ford Fusion feel like a chicken leg moving through a cup full of marbles. Contrast that with tight notchy sticks found in Mazdas and Hondas.\

I should note that my assessment on the suspension, stick and handling differs from that of my colleague Thane Peterson and his review. But, hey, we don’t have to agree, not even at the same magazine.

The radio controls are confusing and over-engineered. I’m sure if I owned the car, I’d get used to it, but I’d never really be happy. There was one cup-holder in the front, and it’s in a bad spot, way back in the center console, and too small.

The 1.8 liter, 140 hp engine is a bit punky. There are two trim levels: the XE, which starts at $15,995, and the XR, which starts at $17,545. The base model comes with options you don’t expect on low-priced GM vehicles: power locks, rain-sensitive wipers, six airbags, a tilting and telescoping steering wheel and a trip computer. The XR buys alloy wheels, AC and premium audio.

I also want a Saturn small car to have good fuel economy. The Astra is rated at 24/30. I’m not impressed. Not in 2008.

Reader Comments

Noz

April 3, 2008 6:01 PM

Well Kiley, thanks for admitting your pro-Saturn bias, something I will never understand. The company has produced naught but mediocre stuff since Day One. The appeal has not been based on quality but jingoism, down and dirty (dumb as well) flag waving. 'Ease of buying' (read: guaranteed margin) as well, and they ripped one off on any trade as well.

And also thanks for owning up to admitting the Arstra is a dog. What else could it be with its parent in mind? Dumbing down is a good description of what happens when GM and Ford bring things from Europe. Can you think of a single exception?

Mazda and HONDA do better with their stick shifts? Of course. Both companies are trying very hard to compete, and both are engineering-oriented. They figure the sales will come if the cars are worth buying. GM, on the other hand--well who really knows of late what is driving that outfit right about now? And who really cares?

Robin P

April 4, 2008 1:01 AM

I've been looking to rent this car and "test" it, but it's been hard to find, I haven't seen one on the streets yet, not in Houston nor Miami – a car that's been on sale for over 3 months! (In contrast, I've already seen a bunch of 2009 Corollas and it just went on sale...) It's a shame, really. Last year my wife and I spent two weeks with the Opel version, a diesel GTC, and we loved that car! The suspension was firm, the steering tight, the ride was great... We put over 4,200 miles in that compact car driving thru three countries (Spain, France and Italy), visiting several towns and cities and having an unforgettable adventure. I drove on city streets, highways and country back roads... in all the Astra rode well, but most memorable of all were the twisting roads in the Alps where the Opel shone with its precise handling! It was a blast! It's very sad that GM dumbed down the car bringing stateside. To finish, I also agree with David about the over-engineered interior features. If BW allows, anyone can check where we took the Astra for a ride at europa07 . com

Engineer1

April 6, 2008 7:27 AM

It's hilarious how Noz ribs the ribs the journalist for being "pro-Saturn" on an overwhelmingly negative article. His finishing statement with his own bias really drives it home.

I'm not a partisan towards any particular auto company, but love pointing out import bigots at every turn.

Kang

April 8, 2008 10:18 AM

Your "review" puts you in a tiny minority who don't find the Astra's ride /suspension to be a desirable and quantum improvement over prior Saturns, and don't forget to mention (you did forget)there is an optional, firmer sport suspension w/ lower ride height available. And by the way, the EPA highway mpg estimate is actually 32 for the 5-speed, which ranks it right up there with smaller, puny vehicles like the Chevy Aveo or the Honda Fit. You say the engine is "punky"? You think that's a good, clear description of an engine? Maybe you should be reviewing appliances for Consumer Reports instead.

Phil

April 8, 2008 11:04 AM

Let's start with the premise that I work for Saturn. I'm going to address some issues regarding the ASTRA: your government, suspension, fuel economy, my perceptions of what GM thinks of Saturn, and the transmission that you don't like.

On lunch break I consistently take the ASTRA in order to learn about it. It gets outstanding fuel economy. In stop and go traffic, the driver's information center gives me an instant MPG of 40 to 43 mpg. No Joke! On the highway it gets approx. 36 to 38 miles a gallon. This is at 70 mph at 3000rpm.

I don't know where you got the idea that the suspension is not up to par. I guess its that anti-american car manufacturer implant in your brain. The car is engineered tighter than anything that Toyota or Honda puts out (gap tolerances of less than 1mm). The ASTRA corners with the best of performance compacts. The ASTRA is begging to be tuned.

Which brings up why I don't like the car. It is a snail. The only redeeming feature over the European/Austrailian version is larger brake rotors. For some reason GM refuses to supply an adequate amount of cash to successfully market the car. GM wanted so desparately to bring the car to the US that they sold their soul to CAFE standards and the NHTSA to bring the car stateside. Sorry the mileage doesn't look all that great on the sticker, but the EPA changed the reg's on how fuel economy is rated on all 2008 models and neglected to tell anyone. However it is explained on fueleconomy.gov.

You have no idea how much disappointment surrounds the ASTRA at stores. One engine choice for the states, while Pontiac gets the cool stuff like G-8's. Was the ION boring, yes. But, it sold very well on a consistent basis. Now we have parking lots filled with Belgium imports and German VIN numbers, and no advertising.

You want to see the Cobalt's replacement, go to a Saturn lot. I went to a Chevy lot to get a part. Some woman was curious about the arrival of the Malibu. I successfully restrained the urge to tell her that Saturn has been selling it for a year at the AURA.

Noz

April 9, 2008 8:56 PM

'Engineerl', whatever. Stay awake now! Prior to his driving one of the Arstras, Herr Leftist Kiley was pining for something from Saturn. He settled for something from BMV. Neither is my taste.

Kang, I would take the Fit any day over anything GM had to offer, or push off onto the public. Superior is just that. It takes an open mind and a car fan to see it sometimes.

As to Phil, I suggest you enroll in a grammar school math class and learn how to figure mileage as it really is. One fills up and divides the miles driven by the gallons added. Simple.

The so-called Information Centre is lying thru its chips. another GM delusion and snare, It was designed for todays illiterate/math-deficient Mrkns. Swallow your bubble gum and face the facts as they are now, not as they were.

I have to add that the gaps tolerances, now so close, are to compensate for the one inch gaps on all those thousands of plastic slab Saturns of yore. Gaps are not a measure of reliability, nor quality. Narrow mindedness, yes, perhaps.

I have to add that the Aura has proven to be a rolling disaster thus far. Just about everything fails. Better off buying the Malibu as mediocre as it is.

Kang

April 14, 2008 2:28 PM

My goodness Noze, thank you so much for opening my eyes to show me (everyone else I guess) how to open my mind and see everything just as you do.

Oh my yes, the Fit is just an amazing miniature car, especially if you happen to be 5'11" or shorter. At 6'6", I've never found a Honda or even a Toyota that I could fold myself into comfortably to drive. The Astra, much like its Opel ancestors imported decades ago (current VW as well), accommodates me and my tall kids quite nicely. But maybe if I just open my mind and become a "car fan" like you I'll somehow be able to fit into cars that were designed for people with much shorter legs than I happen to have.

Regarding the Aura, the comments I've heard have generally been positive, but even if those opinions are coming from delusional people who don't use the Noz prism to see the world as it really and truly is, what does the Aura quality have to do with the Astra? Yes, the Aura uses an Opel platform but the rest is essentially GM corporate and it's built in Kansas. They both do have Saturn badges on them, so I guess your bias applies to them equally.

Indeed, gaps are not a measure of reliability, nor quality. Narrow mindedness? Obviously, and throw in a few gaps in knowledge and credibility while you're at it.

partman

April 14, 2008 3:12 PM

i would have to somewhat agree with noz, other than the fact that gaps are an indicator of quality. unless he doesnt mind buying a $30k car with half inch gaps on one side and quarter inch gaps on the other. the only admitted mistake on the aura so far has been a program update and an air dam which i guess could be considered as a rolling disaster? i am disappointed with the astra interior as well, but i think the exterior is very attractive. the engine is pretty underpowered in my opinion, i would love to see the turbo engine but im not holding my breath. theres always the chance of a red line edition though....

AstraAussie

April 23, 2008 3:58 AM

I've owned an Astra in Australia for 80,000km (@50,000 miles) now. Handles great, drives like a train on tracks - the faster you go the better the ride. Sits very nicely on 70mph at around 3300rpm. Economy is great - 7.5 ltrs/100km at this speed. (Around 32mpg). This is a 5-door, 5-speed manual. We just returned from a 1800 mile holiday, fully loaded with wife and three kids and luggage. This thing sits on 120km/h all day and loves it. Very reminiscent of Robin P's comments of his drive in Europe. BTW this is the 120hp 1.8ltr engine, not the USA's 140hp engine which, if it is the one with VVT, is rated as better fuel economy than mine. Astra--I love it. Though they have sold well here, Mazda 3 and Corolla still outsell it in Aus. (Corolla just happens to be a good fleet car choice for rental companies here - cheap and reliable). Astra is no match as far as I'm concerned with the Corolla.

axegrinder

April 30, 2008 1:25 PM

The Astra is Belgium made, is it not? I drove one a week ago & I liked it very much. It's a quality European car.

Canadaguy

May 16, 2008 6:33 PM

OK you Corolla lovers have you take the 2009 for a ride? It is truly a gutless wonder. Have you driven one on the highway? The Corolla handling is horrible in my humble opinion to the point I felt it was unsafe. The ride & suspension blow bot the Corolla and Civic away. Drive one after the other like I did and I am sure you will come to the same conclusion. The Astra is a little slow with the four speed auto but the manual is fine.

insidertrading

May 24, 2008 4:53 PM

The US version is still inferior to the EUR version!!!! There are no other engine choices, no GPS, no AUX input, no keyless ignition and one transmission option; a crummy 4speed auto with no manual mode. I understand the exchange rate problem but at least offer these as stand-alone options, they're already available in other markets on the same car!!!

The car is so slow off the line I was laughing while being left in the dust by Neons and Aveos. To make matters worse the top MPG for the snail 1.8 is only 32 compared with Hondas 34 and Toyota's 36....

Get it right the first time!!!

Steven

June 8, 2008 2:19 PM

The ASTRA XR 5-Speed is the best! We test drove all the competitors and the ASTRA was far the winner. We have owned our Astra for 2 months and absolutely love the way it drives. We get about 31.5 in the city and around 37 to 40 average on the highway. I was so impressed by the solid build of this car. The high quality interior is what you would see in a volvo (we own a 2006 Volvo). The handling is tight and better than all the competitors by far. We bought the upgraded suspension and the sun roof which was well worth the extra $$. I would suggest that if you want a high quality small car, then take the 5-speed Astra with the upgraded suspension out for a ride. You will not want to get out of it!

jl

June 24, 2008 6:12 PM

Even Consumer Reports didn't rate it too highly, sad that GM STILL can't get it right, I woulda been seriously interested, but their review was disappointing, hopefully GM finally 'gets it' and will have better product coming down the pike. Hey that Pontiac Vibe or 09 sounds promising with Toyota mechanicals, but after this I'll reserve judgment.

roy m jones

June 30, 2008 8:12 AM

I was just about to buy one after seeing it at the leesburg,va store but after reading the opinions i would not buy now.I hope these comments get back to GM & they make corrections.

Mike

July 1, 2008 5:08 PM

I am really laughing at the person above complaining about lack of manual overide on a auto tranny... Dude, If you want to shift MANUALLY you get a MANUAL GEARBOX that gives you better power transfer to the wheels and better control in the turns. I plan to test drive this car when the ney Hyundai Elantra arrives in later 2008 as a 2009 Elantra Touring in 5 door and compare the 2. Good Work GM for taking a practical car and putting it on the american roads.

Philip

July 8, 2008 10:18 AM

Seems like Saturn shot Mr. Kileys dog or something worse. I do not share the Japanese Car lovers passion for their rides. Something just doesn't feel right when I drive a Toyota or Nissan.
Just sit in Honda.

Having spent a little time in Europe I always liked what I drove. It is different from US or Oriental based vehicles. But you have to accept that.

My Astra Coupe is everything I thought it would be and more (the terrible - life threatening cupholder inconvenience forgiven.) Plenty of pep, good handling, room for my 6' 3" frame, and 36 highway.

I've learned not to live my life by what Consumer reports thinks.

bill

August 1, 2008 10:35 PM

Honda, Nissan, Toyota... the closest thing we get in this country of an untainted European transplant is the Acura TSX (The accord in Europe) I gave up and got an Audi A3. I get 27mpg avg and squeeze out over 32 on the hwy. It has four doors, a hatch ("sportback" in audispeak) a 200hp motor (which you can take to 250 with a chip if so inclined for ~$500) and the DSG tranny (computer controlled dual clutch manual tranny) The best interior of ANY manufacturer and with the sport pkg will out-handle most of the challengers in the real world. Definitely not the cheapest, but you get what you pay for. I drove the Astra... not bad, but not what you get in Europe (why do they think we yanks like the numb soft ride). The acceleration leaves something to be desired but once up to speed, you can take all the hard lefts and rights you want @ 35 all day long. It needs a bigger rear sway bar to make it a bit more neutral, but that would get granny in a panic skid.

Sam

August 23, 2008 7:21 AM

Why do Americans care so much about bloody cupholders.

Duane Christofferson

September 6, 2008 7:38 PM

I test drove an astra and I was very
unimpressed.I drove the manual and it
was just ok very lackluster in
performance. And controls like the radio heating and air are way to low forcing you to take your eyes off
the road. And the back seating is to
cramped especially for tall people.
Saturn missed the mark on this one.
And the cup holders are misplaced

Dan

October 11, 2008 5:11 PM

The Saturn Astra XR is a well-built, reasonably economical,fun-to-drive car with impressive safety features. It is not and was not intended to be a high-end machine. I think GM was wise to bring the Opel/Saturn stateside. The author of the article is stating his opinion only. No vehicle is perfect and you get what you pay for...usually. Also,the America-haters should renounce their citizenship and go live overseas.

Jamie

October 21, 2008 11:01 AM

I purchased the 3-door XR model and its a great car. I test drove the Mazda3, Mazda6, VW rabbit, and this car was my favorite of them all. I'm not a huge fan of Saturn, but Opel has allways been one of my most favorite car companys in the world. And this car isnt dumbed down as many of you say, it looks allmost like the ones in europe and it drives beatifully. Of course they could bring over other models like the Opel Astra GTC, but its just starting out in america, and just like all other imported cars, it has to start at the basic level and build up. Just give this car a chance or wait till a more powerful model comes out.

jason

October 27, 2008 12:31 AM

I purchased a Saturn Astra XE 5dr on 8/29/2008. It has more standard options than most other cars in this class including rain sensing wipers! The five speed is the way to go if you want more pep and control. Overall, it's a lot of car for the money. Saturn is a pro-consumer company as well. Happy Motoring!

Mike

October 27, 2008 11:11 PM

Typical reviewer bias:

US vehicles are "underpowered" while the imports mentioned make 122HP and 115HP respectively are "Smart, good on gas, etc"

GM is getting hammered for the perception that they make poor economy vehicles while Toyota and Nissan get a free pass on their Hemi clone V8 gas hogs in their SUV's and P/U trucks.

So GM passed on the hot motors..for now.

IT IS THE EURO interior by the way (no XM radio).

So you either love the small euro cars or you don't. This IS ONE so STFU already whiners.

Mike

October 27, 2008 11:14 PM

Now I know the reason for the bias.
The reviewer is the author of two books...The rise,fall,& Comeback of VW.
BMW- The most admired brand in the world.
Stick to reviewing your "pure" euro models or better yet. ExPat yourself on the back.

From Kiley: Ha. Bias? I often get pilloried for being in the tank for the domestics.

John

November 19, 2008 2:05 PM

I bought my Astra XR in May. Just yesterday I got stopped at a red light... the person next to me beeps... motions me to roll down my windows... tells me how great looking my car is and asks me all about it. This is at least the tenth time that this has happened to me in 5 months. I valet all the time... and once they figure out how to unlock the doors... the valet kids always tell me how much they love my car. I bought the armrest from the dealer... it comes with a well placed slide-out cupholder. And I bought an aftermarket XM that is small enough to sit in the little change holder with no interruption of anything. Would a sixth gear be nice? Sure. More power? Maybe a little... for when I want to pass that semi already going 80 on Florida's Turnpike on my way from Orlando to Miami and back. But I don't need it. This is the best car GM has sold here in decades. The handling is tight. The looks are stellar. The controls are very easy to use once you get used to them. Onstar navigation is better than the screen based... you tell them where you want to go and the turn by turn directions come right over the speakers, never having to take your eyes off the road. In terms of going out and about, to work, errands, shopping, etc... this car is as good as it gets while giving me back 30 mpg overall (twice the SUV) and costing half what my Asian SUV did at the pump. I LOVE MY ASTRA. You can call me diluted, fine. But I never had anyone stop me to ask me about my boring Accord or CRV... and I never looked for an excuse to just get in and drive like I do now, either.

MyerShift

December 8, 2008 1:01 PM

Having made the appointment at Vordermann Volkswagen in Ft. Wayne a few weeks ago, I decided to finally taste one of GM's German delights; the new for the U.S. Saturn (Opel) Astra.

The staff at Saturn of Ft. Wayne were very courteous and personal to work with.
Having explained my situation of why I ended up with a VW instead of the Astra and wanting to finally experience one, they gladly agreed to offer a test drive.

A few short minutes later, a silver Astra XR 3-door pulled up in front of my Volkswagen. Talk about nice looking but subtle versus hot looking and great visual pizazz concerning the Golf against the Astra!

This XR had (naturally) the manual transmission and also the available leather seating, and the optional stereo system.

In no time I was pulling away with the lovely Heather riding shotgun and onto the Avenue of Autos off from Illinois Road in Ft Wayne.
At the turnaround point, I cranked the steering to attain a sense of the steering and general chassis response even though it was at a very sedate 20 mph. The optional 18" wheel and tire setup feels phenomenal with minimal roll, and a very taut; poised sense of control.

The steering is sublime.
Perhaps a wee bit devoid of actual feel against my VW but it feels stiff and meaty. My idea of perfect assist. More effort is needed than in my VW's rack.

As we gently accelerated down the Avenue of Autos to Illinois road, I noticed only two obvious "faults". One regarding the manual gearbox which felt a little more vague and rubbery as opposed to the VW's. However, once one has adapted to the car, this becomes a nonissue.

My biggest issue regarded something sort of silly but important. The rear view mirror quivered at idle and low speeds like a bowl of Jell-O hooked up to a paint mixer. It's rather disconcerting especially in regard to the lack of actual vibration penetrating the Astra's cabin.

Also, the windows are only one touch down, not up and I don't know about pinch protection and wouldn't want to find out the hard way that's for sure!

I loved the fact that the car allows you to have the headlamps "OFF", on AUTO, P, O, and have the foglamps on in any of those on settings. The high beams are interesting to turn on and off as there is no real tactile correlation between the lamps changing their setting and any noted "switch" in the signal lever. There is also a small delay as the electronics do their thing to switch between high and low beam. (I observed this in someone's bumper while sitting a one of the looong lights in Ft. Wayne.

For anyone concerned about the 138hp output of the Astra's 1.8L ECOTEC, it is acceptable. Initially, yes, it feels (and I'm sure is) more sluggish than my Golf with its 2.5L I-5 and 170hp but it is *just* enough power to ensure safe acceleration onto interstates (some blonde dingbat was actually holding us up in her HHR during the acceleration up the onramp to I-69 North. The trade off for this reduced power is undoubtedly in improved efficiency, but we really need to see the new 1.6L turbo ECOTEC offered here in the States with the manual. More power, better efficiency. More than likely, those who choose the automatic aren't enthusiasts and won't appreciate this car's level of capability. So it could remain the only transmission with the 1.8 in my eyes.
The Astra's air conditioning also performed admirably in the 90* F heat and humidity without damping the engines fun, revvy nature/

The stereo setup would take some getting used to and would probably be much easier with the owner's manual, but I managed to toggle through several different computer settings and adjusted the stereo's sound and speaker output location with relative ease. It's not that bad, I promise you.

Once underway upon the Interstate, the Astra is more refined and quiet than the Volkswagen Golf with less road and wind noise.
The ride is incredible. Very firm but never harsh or uncomfortable and always willing to play.
Changing lanes is an adventure though if one is not used to the pinched sightlines induced by that rakish greenhouse, but made easier through the one-touch-for-three blinks and auto-returning signal lever.
One item I was not able to figure out while underway was the electronic speed control. I would have to check the owner's manual for that one.

My verdict overall?

This is the BEST small car currently available for the money no question.

All it needs is a bit more power. Bring the CDTi's!

I am very glad that I was able to experience the Astra and its class leading attributes.
It truly is an amazing car and should actually be the hottest seller on the market.
I loved it!

And, no I do not work for GM, Saturn, or Opel, or in the auto industry at all. I am in business management at McDonald's. It's not something to be laughed at; we have training that counts as college hours.

Greg Calabrese

December 26, 2008 5:41 AM

I aquired the Astra in April 2008. The handling is absolutely the best of any non-sports car I have ever driven. The car has a quality feel throughout with quality material throughout the cabin. Yes the power is acceptable with out being fast. However as someone that wants economy over drag racing the engine is just fine and very smooth. I have driven the rabbit the mazda 3 and the matrix and it is clear that the best small car in North America is the Astra. Why this car is not a best seller proves that there is no accounting for taste.

Mike White

December 29, 2008 6:04 PM

I drove the astra in germany and drove it here and the handling is even better here in the u.s. I never thought I would be saying that about a gm card, but congrats to gm for bringing the euro experience here. I have been waiting for it! Now we need the turbo.

billdacat

June 20, 2009 10:31 AM

I have owned a couple of saturns and I disagree about them being "mediocre"

I had an original 1991 Saturn SC that I absolutely loved. I drove it about 200k miles before my son had someone run into him.

It was very enjoyable to drive, a beutiful car, and very inexpensive.

I now have a saturn Ion redline. It looks better than most of the cars on the road even though it is a 2004... It looks better than most cars on the road and will continue to for a LONG time to come.. same as the old saturn sc I owned.. both pretty cars. I have yet to see a toyota or Honda that impressed me with their styling.. they are ugly plain Jane loser cars in my opinion... Why buy a new car if it is going to be plain and boring?

I wouldn't even consider an import brand as a purchase until we have fair trade with those countries. Korea and Japan have ridiculously unbalanced auto trade that shows obvious problems with our trade agreements. When Japan can ship more than 2 million cars here while buying a few thousand american vehicles, that is a GROSS injustice to American workers.

GM sold more cars aorund the world in 9 of the top 10 countries as recently as last year.. the ONLY top country where they are outsold by the almighty Toyota was.. you guessed it.. JAPAN... gee, sounds like they practice fair trade to me? But then .. who cares if our neighbors have jobs, right? Who cares if every time you buy a foreign car, you put our country further into debt?!!?!

lilcoloradoangel

July 27, 2009 6:21 PM

I love my astra just got it 2 weeks ago and wouldn't trade it for anything!!!

lupo

August 4, 2009 7:36 AM

I'm moving to US from europe, and looking into a hatchback, the new golf coming out seems nice, but again a old heavy 2.5L gas guzzler and I assume high sticker price.. I drove the ASTRA 4 DOOR in croatia and loved it!! it was a blast to drive, enough power for any driving, suspension was tight and interior was quiet. Only problem stopping me is it's a GM saturn mark, and I just dont think it will have much residual value in the future..
I drive a peugeot 207 now, i wonder when the french will re enter the US market!

messjess

August 25, 2009 2:03 PM

I would NOT by another Astra if it was the last car on earth. The drivers side door leaks air.It will drive you completely crazy there fix is to glue the seal in on the top corner and down the top and side about six inches down.But it didn't come from the factory like that.I have had my car back to the shop six or seven times for this.

Darin

September 19, 2009 9:25 PM

Jl sums up the moronic honda/toyota loving crowd beautifully - by stating they wouldn't consider an Astra after reading Consumer Reports review of the vehicle. This is F ing laughable as consumer reports is as credible as a used car salesman. Consumer reports' is useless unscientific data where cars are concerned and ANYBODY who puts ANY stock in CR's opinion of cars is so totally ignorant - they deserve that POS corolla! While CR staff fleet testers are being wined and dined and sent to Japan for field trips - why would they say any different? After all, does a trip to Detroit sound at all enticing? Fact is you Toyota loving morons are the farthest thing from a car enthusiasts, and are nothing more than Kool aid drinking idiots. Toyota is the most recalled brand since 06 and NEVER build anything with outstanding quality or reliability because their statistics are built via lies - secretly fixing problems and not reporting recalls for DECADES! A few dead bodies later (in toyotas) ALL car companies are now on a level playing field. Now we see Toyota for what they really are; greedy liars who build the cheapest cars per unit to produce, while profiting the most per unit in the industry. Peddling dated, sometimes 20 yr old platforms with new sheet metal - 60% of EVERYTHING Toyota builds (lexus included) is a crap box Camry in disguise. Ford is eating Toyota's lunch because lo and behold - THE SHEEPLE ARE FINALLY WAKING UP! As for the Astra, my buddy bought one brand new in Canada for 17K and it is LIGHT YEARS ahead of ANY toyota or Honda! ESPECIALLY for the money! The Honda fit is an overpriced joke of a car! I'm sure that the media and the die hard jap toyota/honda lovers would covet a large brown piece of crap with wheels on it and proclaim it 'car of the year' if it had a toyota/honda badge on it. If you Honda/Toyota lovers think your so smart and that your driving some superior form of automotive engineering then how come the dozens I know that own them (coworkers) have ZERO auto acumen, never work on cars, can't drive intelligently (never mind in a performance fashion), and are generally ignorant people. Perhaps they only let CR tell them what to buy too! I'm frankly stunned at the morons I have to share road and air with!

MissMollyDolly

October 21, 2009 11:08 PM

Mid-August 2009 I purchased a Saturn Astra XR 5-door with the performance package. It handles beautifully. It is a blast on winding back roads. The build quality is solid. It looks stunning. I wouldn't argue with a bit more power, but does it need it? No. I wouldn't trade it for anything currently on the roads in the US. A couple years down the line (I am in my early twenties with no children), it certainly has the room, cargo space, and safety features to be an excellent family car. Still skeptical, take one for a test drive and see for yourself. I love mine!

Tom D.

January 27, 2011 12:16 PM

I have 2008 Astra and for the record while it is nice to drive and does have plenty of features, quality wise it sucks. The dash is full of squeaks and rattles, and has been since day one. The AC leaked into the car. Two years in the AC compressor failed, 42,000 miles so no warranty coverage, $1074.27 to fix. Yeah, not so impressed with the way GM handled this so this my sixth GM car will probably be my last. Not impressed with the "European" build quality either. Maybe this is the real reason GM closed the Antwerp plant.

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