Overview & Reviews
Before meeting its maker during the General Motors bankruptcy drama in 2009, Saturn had been trying to inject some European flavor into its model lineup. One step in this process was the arrival of the compact Saturn Astra hatchback for the 2008 model year. Though the Astra nameplate was new for most Americans, it had been (and continues to be) produced in Europe under GM's Opel and Vauxhall brands.
The Astra's crisp handling, interior sophistication and sharp styling helped it stand out from other economy cars. However, its powertrain was subpar, there was no sedan body style and its price was a bit dear for American tastes. As a result, it sold poorly and was only produced for a single year. If you're shopping for a sporty small car, though, a used Astra is a distinctive and likely affordable option. Just keep in mind that maintenance could be a hassle due to the Astra's scarcity and European sourcing.
Most Recent Saturn Astra
The Saturn Astra was limited to a single year of production -- 2008. It was available as either a two-door or four-door hatchback. The four-door came in base-level XE trim or sportier XR trim, while the two-door came in XR trim only. Both bodies featured a 60/40-split fold-down rear seat, giving the four-door almost 45 cubic feet of cargo space. The two-door model sacrificed some of that space to its sloping rear quarters and more aggressive profile.
The Astra came fairly well-equipped in base XE guise, including six airbags, stability control, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, rain-sensing windshield wipers and a CD player. Jumping up to the XR trim level added quicker steering and a sport-tuned suspension (two-door only), air-conditioning, alloy wheels and an upgraded audio system. Most of the XR features were available as options on the XE, and a large sunroof was available on both four-door trim levels. Satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack were not offered, however.
All Astras were equipped with a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine that produced 138 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque. Transmission choices were a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic.
In reviews, we remarked on the Astra's well-designed, high-quality interior, which was full of soft plastics and tasteful accents. Chrome-ringed dials and piano-black finishes created a more upscale atmosphere than the typical economy car interior, despite the sometimes unfamiliar European controls. On the road, we noted that the Astra's European suspension tuning and quick, weighty steering made it fun to drive. The powertrain was a lowlight, however acceleration was tepid and cacophonous, and each transmission could have used another gear.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 133.00
An Opel Gem Penske Should Keep! - 2008 Saturn Astra
By Opel Fan - December 30 - 12:30 am
I grew up with Opels, and I have owned a Cadillac Catera (nee Opel Omega). My Saturn (nee Opel) Astra XR 5 door is unique, understated and an awesome "German hot hatch". From the wonderful smell of the cloth interior, to the way the CDC40 Opera audio and board computer work, to the sound of the turn signals - this is pure Opel. I have the sport handling package with 18" wheels, and the handling is Mini Cooper-like with incredible poise at 80 mph on the highway. The Astra is no fireball, but I like the balance between excellent shift quality of the 4 speed automatic, fuel economy and acceleration. A future collectible since the Astra will only be imported in 2008 and is discontinued.
100K mile test Astra XE 5-door AT 2008 - 2008 Saturn Astra
By rook119 - November 25 - 11:40 am
Price new: $13,500 - bought winter 08 when the economony blew up and GM was giving cars away. The car was made in Belgium, with German parts and an Aisin (Japanese) transmission. So unlike other Saturn/Opels the car thankfully wasn't Americanized with things like overly spongy suspensions. So the car is manuverable and a blast to toss around. I think its still arguably the best looking subcompact on the market. Its really the best affordable European car on the market still today. Really if you can get this car at about 75K miles and about $6-7K I would highly recommend it.
Impressed with this car - 2008 Saturn Astra
By mmmaxheadroom - November 17 - 1:30 am
Was looking for a new vehicle for my wife and found this gem. Only problem so far is giving up the keys to the wife, I wanna drive it waaahhh! This car has put the fun back into the small car GM lineup, that the ION, Cobalt, etc. took away from all of us. When I was looking at replacing our 02 Pontiac, the Vibe and Mazda3 were on the short list. I am 6'6" tall so I won't even discuss the Hondas, either Fit or Civic because at 6'6" those things are impossible. I won't say the Astra fits me perfect but it is relatively comfortable for me. After driving the Astra I can honestly say Fun car, with sharp handling and good fuel mileage to boot. This car is truly a euro car here in the USofA.
Great little car - 2008 Saturn Astra
By PaFromFL - November 16 - 1:50 pm
I'm really enjoying my Astra. For its size, it provides a surprising amount of room and comfort. The driver gets generous legroom, plenty of clearance from the tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and a wide range of seat adjustments. The engine seems happy lugging along at 1500 rpm, and I have yet to stall it even though I hadn't driven a manual in many years. It handles very well in spite of the torsion rear axle (as opposed to fully independent). The Astra can be more fun to drive around town than my BMW 330i and Chrysler 300C because I can push its limits without instantly violating traffic laws.
The Saturn Astra Rocks - 2008 Saturn Astra
By Ryan K. - November 13 - 12:53 am
When I was selected to "ride & drive" the Astra back in early October I was a little sceptical about how this car would be next to the lackluster Ion I was blown away. This car has all the looks and amenities of a car costing many thousands more, the handling is also phenomonal compared to the Ion. I think Saturn has built a real winner and that they will be a serious contender in the small hatchback segment.
At least check it out - 2008 Saturn Astra
By Stan - November 8 - 2:23 pm
We were looking for cheap transportation. I went to Edmunds.com to look for Sedans under $15K and the Saturn Astra was no where on the radar. Visited Hyundai/Kia and test drove an Accent. We were on the way to the Nissan/Toyota dealerships. Just for kicks I stopped at Saturn when I had to make a U-Turn. We were blown away by the Astra. With the current discounts and very little haggling we were down to my price range. The quality feel of this vehicle is outstanding. It was like night and day from the Japanese imports. If I could have bought two I would have. After the test drive I was hooked. I really like the european feel of this car. It's at least worth a look for new car shoppers.
Saturn scores! What a great car! - 2008 Saturn Astra
By Joe the Astra Owner - November 1 - 9:13 pm
4,000 miles and no problems. This car is solid. The Astra XR has amenities you only expect to find in a luxury car. The gas mileage has been phenomenal. I have gotten 34mpg or better on each tank of gas in mixed highway / city driving. If you are considering an Astra, go with the 5 speed stick. With the 5 speed, this car has plenty of power, and you get the additional benefit of outstanding gas mileage.
Cramping my style - 2008 Saturn Astra
By peak_rush - October 17 - 12:46 pm
There is not enough leg room to stretch out. No excuse that it's a 'small car'. Even older GM designs, like the Saturn ION and Chevy Cobalt have enough leg room for a 6'2" tall guy to totally stretch out his legs. Maybe people overseas are vertically challenged.
Update at 5k miles - 2008 Saturn Astra
By MGGDTW - October 9 - 7:50 pm
Astra owners, check to make sure your lights, exterior and dash lights are not flickering when using your intermittent wipers feature. I also noticed a relay clicking when this happens. It has been addressed at my local dealer and after 2 weeks in the shop now its been determined that its a faulty part called the VEC module. Other than this small bug the car has still been on par and very fun to drive. Just a faulty suppliers part that has nothing to do with build quality. I'm still 100% happy with my Astra!
Is on Opel feel and drive superb! - 2008 Saturn Astra
By Claudio Guadagno - August 31 - 1:20 am
I just got a 2008 Saturn Astra XR trading down from a 2006 Chevy TrailBlazer. Gas prices and fuel consumption were factors in getting this car. I am from Venezuela where Opels are sold so I know about the built quality. This car is sweet. It is not very fast 0-60 but once it hits 60 it all changes. It handles like a 318ti my friend has. Sweet.