Just a few last words on my week drive with the new Saturn Astra.
I basically really liked the car.
The only true competition in the US would be the VW Rabbit. But the Rabbit cannot be optioned as much as the Astra. Unless you get the more expensive GTI.
The Japanese competition just doesn’t feel the same.
The closest one would be the Mazda 3.
-The engine isn’t the smoothest around, but it is fine. (The Mazda’s is better) I never thought it was noisy.
And once you go past the sporty looks and realize this is not a sports car, it feels pretty peppy.
-The transmission is very smooth and pretty easy to downshift. But there is really no excuse for a 4 speed in 2008.
-I averaged 25MPG in mostly city driving. And I reached 41MPG on the highway (cruising at 65). Actually not bad for only for gears…
-The suspension is “German firm” but never too hard. The steering wheel also feels great.
-The interior is fine. But it does have that “3 or 4 year old feel” to it. Because, it is…
Everything inside is made of quality plastics and feel very solid and sturdy. Again, very German…
But you gotta like black. And if you want a sunroof, get a 5 door.
-The design is a matter of taste, but I think it is one of the best looking small cars on the market.
-Nothing is perfect, and for me, I would like to see an iPod plug, an armrest and a sunroof.
I know the dealer can install all that stuff. But first I just don’t like the idea to give more money to the dealer. And my test car was already $21000. I can’t really see adding a couple of thousands worth of “dealer installed” stuff on top of that…
Because of these things missing, I wouldn’t get one for myself.
But I wouldn’t hesitate recommending it to anyone who can live without them.
I am not sure how GM can actually market this car.
I guess they can go the VW route and mention the “German engeneering”.
But this is German car sold by a brand that was created for the purpose of being a 100% small American car.
First the dent free panels are gone, now the cars are German (built in Belgium)
Most people I talked to when I had the car had a pretty negative reaction when I told them I was drivng a Saturn.
I had to explain the whole story over and over (this is really an Opel etc.. etc…)
Only then, after checking the car out, most of them actually really liked it.
Saturn has some major advertising to do. Most people looking for an American small car might put off by the very European driving dynamics of the Astra. While those looking for a small European car won’t even think of stepping into a Saturn dealership.
The Astra is a really good car, they just need to make sure people even know it exists.