2008 Saturn Astra XR 4dr ecotech from North America


Nice car


Nothing yet.

General Comments:

This car is very fun to drive. With the short steering radius, it's real easy to get into tight areas for parking. There seems to be good power for a gas saver.

Has plenty of room inside.

Handles OK in the snow.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th January, 2010

2008 Saturn Astra XR 1.8L petrol from North America


A quality vehicle from a company that knows about customer satisfaction


I needed to have the rear hatch latch adjusted as it required a good slam to close it. Now it closes as it should with a gentle push.

General Comments:

The car is definitely not a rocket on wheels. The engine is a nice simple engine with 138 HP that returns good gas mileage.

It does feel a little more sluggish coupled with the 4 speed auto tranny, as it isn't able to exploit the engines VVT as much. Despite this, it doesn't feel any faster or slower than some of the competition's cars I test drove.

Handling is where this car really stands out. I have the handling package installed (larger wheels, wider tires, lowered stiffer springs) and this car loves to get tossed around the curves. It is nice and predictable, and feels solid and planted. It really is a pleasure to drive this car. (138 HP is still a very functional number). The handling is why I gave this car such a high performance rating.

Despite the handling package, the comfort level remains unaffected. Over long drives the seats never tire you out. The are supportive and comfortable in all the right places. Some people may find them simple as they are manually controlled, ratchet action for height and rotary crank for angle, but they are adequate none the less. A comfortable driving position is always close at hand. Tilt and telescopic steering help in this area as well.

Creature comforts and features are ample as well. Automatic lights and wipers, good choice of stereos, huge sunroof which covers most of the roof of my 5-door. 3 or 4 more inches of glass roof in each direction and I would be driving a glass top targa! Lots of airbags and car seat clips for safety as well.

Overall I like that the car hasn't being completely worked over for the North American market, this means it is simple and easy to drive, does not ride like a soft bowl of mush and gives the driver all the creature comforts necessary and then some.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th January, 2009

1st Jun 2010, 12:56

I have the same issue with the hatch not closing on the first try. I will have to take it back to the dealer to get this fixed. Funny thing is that I remember the dealer demonstrating how easy it was to close the rear hatch. He just let it drop gently on its own and it shut closed.

8th Apr 2011, 14:44

I have the same issue with the hatch not closing on the first try, and the dealer went out of their way to demonstrate how easy it was to close the hatch when I was buying the car!

2007 Saturn Astra Cabrio 1.6 and 1.8 from North America


Europe really gave us a fantastic little car!



Several creaks and groans in body structure when encountering colder climates.

Aside from that, this car was a really fun little pocket-rocket!

General Comments:

I had two for 2.5 weeks while in Germany last October, and I have nothing but fantastic things to say!

My 2 rentals (both with powered hard top convertibles) were both 07 Astras, but the first had a 1.6 with 5 speed and heated seats. Low end torque wasn't anything fun, but with the factory 16's offered, I was able to hold a consistent speed of 170-180kph on the Autobahn, (but with Ferrari's and Alfas in your rear view mirror once you venture into the passing lane, left me wishing that I had opted for a larger displacement car, or at least a car with a turbo-charger to accelerate faster to those blinding speeds of the Autobahn).

My second rental was a 1.8 litre motor (same as what's offered here in N.A., save the powered hard-top convertible). Sure it had much more noticeable torque, but it sure sucked back the fuel a lot faster when pushed up thru 150-190kph speeds.

Body ridgity on my rentals left a lot to be desired. Since it was a hard top convertible, there were several creaks and groans that became apparent once we travelled into the higher, and colder climates of the Swiss Alps.

Low speed handling on both cars reminded me of my 88 325is BMW, yet, the electronic-assisted steering mage the whole experience of negotiating small euro streets much more enjoyable than anticipated!

In Europe, there's several powertrains offered for the Astra nameplate. Gas models range in size from 1.4 thru turbo charged 2.0 (considering the speeds I was able to obtain with the 1.8, made me shiver considering what a larger motor with a turbo could accomplish!). Then there's a couple of diesel motors with or without turbos offered, for a total of about 6-7 motors. Then there's also the choice of auto or 5 speed (6 if you have the turbo model). Unfortunately all we get is the 1.8 naturally aspirated gas motor with either a 4 speed auto or 5 speed stick.

After driving this car in Germany and Switzerland, I really wished that the Saturn version would be the same. So last month I took a trip to my local Saturn dealer to test drive the N.A. version. The only disappointments came when I noticed no rear fog lights, and no height adjustments for the headlights, different optics for the headlights, and no other versions offered than the 3 and 5 door. In Europe, buyers have both hatches to choose from, but also a sedan, wagon, coupe, and hard-top convertible coupes. So basically, whatever target price you hope to keep, there's an Astra model right for you!

Aside from the above differences, the car's just as enjoyable as the Euro counterpart. When I came back from Germany last fall/winter, I raved to a close friend of mine about how great this little car was, and how much I'd love to own a new Saturn, touting how much better it is than ANY other N.A. car offered. Everything from it's handling, to it's superior build quality and reliable powertrain, and not to mention its fantastic price advantage over the Japanese and other Euro offerings, make this car UNBEATABLE!!!

The only drawbacks I noticed on the 2 door version (both in HT and convertible forms) was the rear view when making lane changes, it's nothing short of terrible! I mean they could have saved $ by not having rear 1/4 panel windows!

My other gripe comes from the arrangement of the radio and climate controls. There's a fantastic LED screen in the centre of the dash, but the configuration of the buttons and dials makes a simple task of changing the temp or radio acoustics a chore, causing you to have to take your eyes off the road for several seconds. After getting used to the steering wheel mounted controls for the radio helps a bit, until you have to change the climate controls. Not good in my books!

Do yourself a favour, if you're reading this review, and find small hatches fun and interesting to drive, you GOTTA get yourself into the drivers seat and test drive one.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 21st February, 2008

16th Jan 2009, 14:58

The lack of height adjustment for headlamps (I believe you refer to the knurled wheel on the driver's side in the European version) as well as the headlamp optics, will be different to comply with North American regulations.

Also, the turbodiesel 1.9 units used in Europe are the same as those fitted in the Alfa Romeo 159 sedan.

2008 Saturn Astra XR 1.8 from North America


Outstanding compact car


Nothing. The car seems to be built very well, even though it is imported from Europe.

General Comments:

I cannot believe how good this little car is. No wonder it's the number 1 selling car in Europe. It looks fantastic and handles very well.

I also like the seat comfort on the one long trip I took, and the radio sounded great. The cargo room seems to hold all my stuff well too.

So far my gas mileage is hovering around 28+ MPG. And the dealership experience was outstanding. I have yet to see any others on the road yet, but I think Saturn has a hit on their hands when people start to see it.

I do have a few minor nitpicks: I wish it had more power, I mean it's adequate, but I wish it had around 200hp instead of 130. But it does handle like a dream. Also the radio has no iPod plug and no XM. But it does play MP3 CDs, so I'm OK with that.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th January, 2008

24th Jan 2008, 11:15

Drove a friends and was highly impressed. Saturn has come a long way from the SW2, and now they make better cars than Audi, BMW and Mercedes according to the survey.

24th Jan 2008, 12:23

Fill us in with periodic updates on how your car is holding up. It certainly does seem like Saturn is taking a turn for the better. Opels cannot be bought in North America, so this really does mark a change. Seems like an improvement as I think the older Saturns were more regarded as glorified Cavaliers. Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with a Cavalier, but I think Saturn may have had trouble deciding what their market was.