Saturn was a great concept when it was first thought up years ago. Build affordable cars - in America to the same standard as Honda and Toyota. The Saturn line was totally different from any other GM product. The first Saturns shared the same radio with other GM products and that was about it.
As the line of cars aged, Saturn turned to GM Europe for the 200 and 300 models. They are re badged European cars.
The ION came and went.
Today, the entire line of Saturn vehicles are re badged GM cars.
Now GM offers the same few cars in too many brands. Saturn Aura, Pontiac G6, Chevrolet Malibu, and Saab 9-3 are all built on the same platform (Epsilon).
Pontiac G6 for value and performance, Malibu for style, Saab for a personal statement, and Saturn for a _____? GM successfully killed Oldsmobile eight years ago, and replaced it with Oldsmobile, er, I mean Saturn.
What is the point of this car company? To me, Saturn lost it's happy-go-lucky soul. Gone is the plucky dent resistant 35mpg raspy people mover, personally made at a factory - remember the ads, Saturn reunions, where people could visit the factory in Spring Hill for a get together with other Saturn owners. - Again ad from way back then.
I'm sure the Astra is a great car. I have read about it in Car and Driver. It isn't a Saturn. It's an Opel.
This is just my comment about Saturn.
The premise of Saturn was great... designing and producing a well-made and affordable compact car here in the US. It almost worked, but GM didn't invest as-needed so Saturn could keep up with the competition. Over time, the mavericks at Saturn just became another useless division of GM. All Saturns are these days are rebadged Opels... gone are the polymer body panels, the Saturn plant in Tennessee, and pretty much everything else that made Saturn different.
Still, the original Saturn S-series cars are getting the last laugh. Those old cars get 32-40 MPG, have the polymer body panels that don't rust, and are amazingly easy to work on. With gas prices so high these days, S-series cars are being snapped up like crazy while Astras and Auras sit on the lots.
The Astra could have been under consideration for me, but the Saturns don't have the resale value or the long term reliability. (I've had two). The VUE experience has driven me to Toyota.
For the price they are charging for the Astra it should come with an mp3 jack. Well at least you'll have a unique car, they aren't selling very well.
Ditto to all of the above. Saturn has lost its identity.
The Astra may be a good car, but I wish it was made in the USA. The fact that it is from Europe, while I am not saying this makes it a bad car, does not impress me. In fact, I would be very concerned about how expensive parts for the vehicle are or will be. Does anybody know this? How expensive are parts for the LS (Opel) series? This might be a good indicator regarding parts for the Astra.
Even though this car is from GM, and I am glad they are working hard on expanding their offering of fuel efficient vehicles, I just cannot get excited about something imported. I want to buy American - that is a product both made in America and from an American Company (i.e., not from the Toyota and Honda colonies/plants out west that are not doing us any favors).
Moreover, I think the Astra is much too expensive. The Chevy Cobalt is cheaper, larger, gets better gas mileage, has a fantastic engine (the Ecotec), more power, and is made in America. I would chose a Cobalt over an Astra.
In light of recent gas prices and the drop in the dollar, GM is softly whispering about plans to reopen the Spring Hill Plant early, kill the Chevy Traverse (which was supposed to be built there), and start building the next gen Saturn Astra's there, as well as the Opel and Vauxhall Astra's. This would seriously mark a shift in policy for GM, maybe a last ditch effort to rescue the uniqueness of Saturn once and for all.
I wrote the comments of 20:34. GM going ahead with what you mentioned, although this is the first I am hearing of it, sounds like a good move to me.
An Astra Diesel, which has been sold in Europe for years, would be an excellent idea too. I have read that there may be one forthcoming.
The L-series sedans, though related to the European cars, are NOT European. Look it up -- the Aura may be related one way or another to an Opel (like with the Ecotec engine), but no Opel or Vauxhall comes close enough. Check the Aura dashboard. Not a single gauge or switch comes from Opel. The Aura is American-made, while the Astra has been imported basically as-is, which is good in a way, as it brings with it what was good about it rather than being Malibuized.
GM certainly did not invest enough in Saturn to keep it the special, unique car company it strove to be. But also remember that when Saturn first came out, the world was a totally different place. Margins were probably better and less competitive. You could get away with a simple enough car with simple engineering. These days, the modern car's features is often dictated by legislation, and these come at a very high cost.
Hamstrung by parking (on the streets) in ancient cities, very expensive fuel, and user registration and insurance charges based on both engine displacement AND CO-2 emissions, Europeans have long mastered how to make great small cars which are not cheap compromises for the poor. They can handle well at very high speeds, are safe in a crash, can be specified with safety equipment alphabet soup, while being reasonably quiet and luxurious. Of course, being well-engineered can't come cheap, but that's now the standard over there.
Not surprising that the Chrysler Neon, sold cheap overseas, just didn't sell -- even with a 2-litre engine, the whole package wasn't up to scratch, too crude for the overseas markets.
The Astra and Focus are showing Americans what they have been missing out on, and the potential of how great a small car can be. The Chevy Aveo, and to some degree the Cobalt (an adaptation of the older Astra, but watered down and Americanised), on the other hand, illustrate that you get what you pay for.
I just got an 08 Astra and it is a great car. I traded in my 04 ION Coupe and got a great trade in price and a great price on the Astra. They do haggle by the way, just be honest with them. Also if you have a bad experience at one dealership, try another one cause they are not all the same.
Why would one rather have a Chevrolet Cobalt over a Saturn Astra? The Cobalt is a "lower class" car than the Astra. From what I've seen of the Astra, it looks well made, and I would bet that it drives better than the Cobalt does, being European. It may be a little bit more, but you do get what you pay for. Personally, I'd take the Astra over the Cobalt. I drove a couple Cobalts, and they're okay, but the Astra's a far better car for what you get.
The Astra is no doubt a good car, but with the demise of Saturn it may not be the wisest choice.
I just picked up a 2 door XR with the 18" wheel package to replace my wife's car. This is a great car, no doubt about it. The one thing that annoys me is the LOUSY gas mileage. I can tolerate it from a car with a bigger engine, but from a 1.8L it is not acceptable. I am burning 10L/100KM. Still within the 30 day return policy, but I don't think I will do it as I was out the door with this car paying $20,000.00 all in. Just check out the features this car gives you. Amazing!!
Sounds like even though Saturn has been sold off by GM, the Astra may continue as it originally was, an Opel in Canada because of Magna's stake in Opel. Hopefully they bring over the diesel, I wouldn't mind testing one of those myself.
Funny how the Astra reminds me a lot of the Chevette, which was also originally an Opel car...