Saturn Astra in the US!

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The European press is reporting that GM has decided to import 40 000 Opel Astras as Saturn’s replacement for the Ion.
GM had already secured the name Saturn Astra a while ago.

They are bringing over both the 3 door and the 5 door hatchback. A pretty gutsy move.
But it is also reported that Saturn will also sell the
Twin Top” convertible!
And that is pretty amazing. I am not sure how thy can bring this one over and sell it cheaper than the larger G6 convertible over here. But it is a great car.

These are very well engineered smaller models that will make GM a real contender in the US market. (and maybe kill the Cobalt on the way…)
And it is a big slap in Ford’s face who still cannot figure out how to bring the new Focus over here…

I am not sure when the cars will show up over here. But the Astra is supposed to be redesigned for the 2009 model year in Europe. So they’d better hurry.
And the most likely engine would be the 1.8 Liter with 140hp.
With maybe more….

Conversation 29 comments

  1. This is good news Vince, finally a real hatchback design in the U.S. that’s not super old. (I am excluding 5-door hatches like the Mazda 3, which are really small wagons, from that statement). But that motor sounds a bit small for the U.S. market considering the size of the car. Maybe they’ll squeeze one of the EcoTec 4s in there.

  2. I agree with the above post – while the bigger Ecotec 4’s are more likely to find their way under the hood of the Saturn Astra, I’d be interested to see how they do it. Does GM ship the engines there, or do the Astras come here sans engines? Of course, I’d love to see a hardtop convertible with the Saturn Sky Redlines turbocharged 2.0L 4, or even the turbo 2.8 HF V6 from the Saab 9-3.

  3. Opel Astra is at the bottom of the food chain in europe. Nobody really buys it as their primary car. Just fleets and rental car companies. Pretty much the same thing GM does here. Don’t get too excited.

  4. So now the big question is:

    What is GM going to do with the Spring Hill facility since they won’t be building the Astra or the Ion?

  5. Maybe by bringing production to the U.S., GM hopes to shut down Opel plants in Europe. With lower labor cost here and the benefit of economy of scale, it’ll probably cheaper to make those cars here, and export them back to Europe.

  6. I hear the cars will be coming from Europe…
    Not sure what would happen to Spring Hill in that case.

  7. Opel may be at the bottom of the foodchain in europe but when it arrives here, it will be an amazing competitor to the Golf.. which hasn’t been doing so well as of late now that it looks like a Toyota Corolla with more chrome.

    Opel has been making strides in the past few years. Perfect idea to bring the brand here.

  8. Good idea!

    The ION is a mess, so won’t be missed.
    Opel Astra is supposedly a much improved car and Opel’s 3 and 5 door hatchback designs are good-looking, practical and compeitive–especially good choices for buyers moving away from gas-hog SUVs.

    Finally a smart move from GM.

  9. Finally, we can all see lights at the end of GM’s tunnel. But why is Ford still sitting when everyone is running …

  10. This is a very smart move on GMs part! These are exciting designs that should do very well here… IF GM doesn’t cheap-out on the interiors like they did with the Malibu. Although someone compared these cars to the Focus, the 5 door is similar in size to the Malibu Maxx, correct?

    Anyway, great decision GM! Kudos.

  11. I agree with the comment above. GM needs to keep those interiors just like they are in the pictures. The European styling looks to be much nicer than the competitors. I just hope they decide to hurry the heck up with these opels.

  12. The 5 door is about the size of a Focus hatchback, much smaller than the Malibu Maxx.
    And as far as I know, the cars will come from Europe, so I don’t think they’ll change the interiors.

    I also heard later today about a $16 000 starting price.
    Just like the new Rabbit in the US.


  14. Don’t think it has anything to do with ford. Since Mazda and Volvo already are here, and much more expensive than focus.

  15. um, the Mazda3 starts at $15,200, which is a pretty reasonable price to pay for that car. The real reason why Ford won’t sell the new Focus here is A) because its easier for them to sell the old car, and B)Americans don’t giver a shit about small cars. They’d rather drive SUVs and “crossovers”, and minivans, and couches and wheels.

  16. Makes sense to me. After all, the Japanese have been doing the “world car” thing for years, so why not GM? Interestingly, if you trace the lineage of the Astra, you can go back to the T-car, which, of course, was the Chevette.

  17. dib’s on a 3 door hatch 🙂

    it’s about time gm realized that the opels are much better than any car they can produce on this side of the atlantic.

  18. In Europe small doesn’t necessarily mean cheap like it does here so cars like the Astra, and even the smaller Corsa, get precise suspension and steering, decent seats and pleasing fit and finish. They may be considered so-so in Europe but a small Opel feels better at 80 mph than a Cavalier at 45 mph.

    Six years ago Saturn dumbed down the Opel Vectra to give us the dull LS series. The Vectra would have been a sharp competitor against the Accords and Camrys of 2000. The coming Aura, also based on the Vectra, is very close to the European car but they still tinkered with it to come up with the American version. Why?

    I hope the Astra approach wins out in the future. An Astra from Germany seems like a much better way to satisfy your German car bug than a Golf from Mexico.

    Check out the panoramic windshield!

  19. Well, I don’y know why you want to kill the cobalt… but the Astra is built on the same platform as the Chevy Cobalt. They are importing the first wave and then will probably start building the saturn version at the Spting Hill, TN plant. Right now that plant is being retooled to handle a second line. The astra will probably have different series of engines. They’ll probably make a “redline” version which will be the same as the Opel Astra VXR which runs a 2.0L Turbo Engine.

  20. At least we’ll see a car that does not look like the others. Sorry to tell you that, but as a European, I think all cars in North Americal look nearly the same, and they have engines that drink a lot for nothing, especially if you use automatic gear box.
    Did you know that all the Opel range includes diesel engines ? Don’t think of an old tractor. These engines are excellent to drive, and you get power too, thanks to phenomenal torque.

  21. I very much agree with the above comment. As a European who has lived the past few years in America, I can tell that when you talk about diesel to Americans they immediately think of pick-up trucks and heavy machinery. They don’t understand that half the cars in Europe are diesel and that they are more efficient and don’t pollute as much as regular gas powered cars. As for the Astra; I’ve driven a 4-door hatchback with 1.7 CDTI diesel and it was a pleasure to drive. It’s quiet, easy to drive, sporty, and even sounds good when you put your foot to the floor. If GM were to bring diesel Astras to America I think the best one would be the 1.9 CDTI because it still has the power, it’s efficient, and for Americans “the bigger the better” therefore I think it would fit in pretty good.
    If the Astra has good sales in the US, there’s a good chance it will kill the Cobalt because, let’s be honest, it looks better and also has a better build quality (i’ve driven 3 different cobalts and they do’t even come close to the astra). I just hope there will be more engines to choose from than just the ones from the cobalt.

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