: Took the new Saturn Astra 2-door for a spin. WOW.

04-22-08, 01:05 PM
This is the same Saturn that offered a bumper car steering wheel and fisher price interior as recently as 2007? Holy crap.

I was driving around in the convertible with a friend of mine, and he noticed "an interesting little two-door" at the Saturn lot. We both assumed it was just a used Japanese car that got traded in.

Upon closer inspection it was the new Astra, which looks even better in person. The ride height is a bit high, but not out of proportion. The lines are crisp and the headlights and tail lights are beautifully sculpted and decorated without being gimmicky like the Altima.


WOO! $21!


There's cupholders in the back, as you can barely see.

This was my first time actually inside a Saturn showroom. There was a basketball hoop and a putting green! I hate golf and suck at basketball, but enjoyed seeing both. The layout and feel reminded me of The Sharper Image, back when it was still cool. They didn't serve cookies like a lot of Saturn dealers were known to in the 90s, but they took huge steps forward in presenting the brand as modern, sleek, and un-GM.

The sales guy was very pleasant. He asked a couple probing questions but never nagged or harassed us and gave us just the right amount of attention. A little more knowledge would have helped answer some questions, but the car just arrived so I'll forgive him. The experience was very positive.

Roomy inside for my large 6'2" friend. The gauges were a subdued mix of yellow and red, instead of Pontiac's obnoxious reds and Infiniti's Halloween oranges.

My first impression was that although the interior was spartan and down to earth, it was precisely built. Panel gaps were TIGHT and everything fit perfectly. Materials felt sturdy if not soft and warm.

The ride quality was superb and the cabin noise was eerily silent. I enjoyed the seating, which like my BMW was supportive while remaining comfortable. The manual controls allowed for height adjustment.

The only sounds to be heard were at high revs from the 140hp 1.8L Ecotec, and it sounded mean.

There was one negative, and a pretty big one for Josh, which is that the throttle tip-in was disjointed. Like old MBs, touching the pedal would do nothing. You have to touch it, then push it in further to get it to open the throttle.

I was really impressed with the shifter, which was short and precise. It wasn't snickety smooth like a Mazda, but it felt better than most BMWs and Hondas I've tried.

The Saab-style radio and trip computer were nightmarishly confusing, with a series of menus and submenus. Fortunately, one knob for volume and one knob for tuning means you can set it and forget it.

Rear visibility in the 2-door was very poor, with thick pillars and a small rear window. The 5-door was perfect.

Impressive head and shoulder room. Ample cargo space. $19k with $1000 of incentives on the windshield. You can't really go wrong with an Astra.

We also looked at the Outlook, which rivaled the Navigator for interior room and looked and felt very expensive. The new Vue was a weird size and shape -- the arched D-pillar made the cargo area feel cramped. The salesman told us that it was available with the 3.6 VVT, which I suspect would be fun in a trucklet this small.

We sat in the Aura, and it was narrower inside than the Astra! Much nicer, obviously.

So that concludes my evening of Saturning.

04-22-08, 01:10 PM
They will sell the shit out of those Astras with gas at 4.00 a #$$%*@ gallon.

04-22-08, 02:49 PM
Nice preview, think I may drop by the Saturn dealer and have a look. I seen a few of the coupes on the road around Richmond and they seem quite attractive. I like a hatchback format for this type and class of vehicle. I had one of the Mercedes 230C Kompressor Coupes with a six speed manual and really enjoyed it as fun, useful transportation until my son wanted it and bought it from me.

04-22-08, 05:07 PM
Nice. I miss the days when my friends and I would get bored and go look at dealer's lots.

Now that I work there, it's just not as fun anymore.