Saturn made a lot of progress in realigning their vehicle line between 2006 and 2008. Redesigns were part of Saturn’s ""Rethink American"" campaign that promised consumers better vehicles if only they bought domestic. The Saturn Astra is one of the vehicles born out of the Saturn redesign program. The Astra is a replacement for the terrible Saturn ION. In fact, the Astra, although not any kind of a trendsetter, is one of the best small vehicles Saturn has ever produced.
Body Styles: compact, two-door or four-door hatchback
Engines: 1.8-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Models: Saturn Astra XE, Saturn Astra XR
The 2008 Saturn Astra is an all-new vehicle model for the Saturn company. It is a replacement for the Saturn ION.
The 2008 Saturn Astra is available as a two-door or four-door hatchback vehicle. The four-door Astra is a bit smaller than your average hatchback, measuring six inches shorter than the Mazda MAZDA3. The Astra is actually a nameplate from the Opal vehicle company, which is based out of Europe, and the vehicle exhibits many European features, including muted styling and a compact design. Standard features on the base XE model include 16-inch steel wheels, a spare steel wheel, full wheel covers, intermittent rain sensing wipers, power mirrors, heated mirrors, and auto-delay dusk-sensing headlamps. The XR model changes the steel wheels for alloy and adds a sport-tuned suspension and a quicker, better steering ratio for high performance. Optional features for the four-door vehicles in the line include a sunroof. Eighteen-inch wheels and high performance tires are available for the two-door XR model.
The interior of the 2008 Saturn Astra is one of the best parts of the vehicle. The interior feels solidly built, probably because Opal had Volkswagen as direct competition in the European market. The steering wheel, dash, and controls are made of soft touch material that feels excellent. The black finish and chrome makes the 2008 Saturn Astra feel a bit more upscale than it actually is. Secondary controls are the only real concern in this cockpit; they are awkwardly placed and not intuitive at all. All body styles have a 60/40-split fold-down rear seat that gives the hatchback model almost 45 cubic feet of storage space. The three-door hatchback model cuts down on some headspace, due to the sloping roof. Standard features on the XE model include cruise control, a CD player, trip computer, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and full power accessories. The XR model adds steering wheel mounted controls, air-conditioning, and an upgraded audio system. These are available on the XE as an add-on option. The two-door Astra XR includes the premium audio system, premium trim package, leather seating, front seat heaters, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Both model types have an optional sunroof.
Performance & Handling
The front-wheel-drive Astra receives a 1.8-liter engine that produces 140 horsepower with 126 lb-ft of torque. The vehicle is paired with a five-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic. For an economy vehicle, the 2008 Saturn Astra is quite impressive. The tuning is more European than America; it gives it a bit of nimbleness around corners as well as a superb turning radius. In fact, the 2008 Saturn Astra compares favorably to sportier hatchback and sedan models on the market. The four-cylinder engine might not be the most exciting, but it can get you from one place to the next. Steering is very responsive, and the driver receives a great amount of feedback from the road. The 2008 Saturn Astra is impressive in more ways than one. This may be the first compact vehicle from Saturn to impress with driving ability and interior design.
The 2008 Saturn Astra comes equipped with stability control, anti-lock brakes, front-seat side airbags, full-length curtain airbags for the back, and active whiplash reducing headrests. Also included standard is the OnStar communication system. Other features include rear child safety locks, front and rear head airbags, ventilated front disc brakes, child seat anchors, post-collision safety system, and passenger sensing airbag deactivation system. The 2008 Saturn Astra has not been government tested for safety.
EPA Fuel Economy
Saturn Astra: 24/32 mpg city/highway
- Great interior design
- Great exterior styling on the two-door
- Standard safety features
- Sport handling on an economy vehicle
You Won't Like
- No sedan version
- Missing some standard features
One of the best compact vehicles ever built by the Saturn company.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Honda Civic
- Volkswagen Rabbit
- Mazda MAZDA3