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Free Car Owners Manuals - Saturn Astra General Information

Free Car Owners Manuals - Saturn Astra logoFor most of the world, the 2008 Saturn Astra is old news. The car already exists in Europe as the Opel Astra, England as the Vauxhall Astra and in Australia and New Zealand as the Holden…can you guess? Yup, it’s the Astra there, too. We Americans are just the most recent recipient of GM’s world car, ours with a Saturn badge.

Although we’ve recently spotted the Saturn Astra during its final phases of testing here in America, it was back in October 2006 which we first learned that the successful compact will retain its Astra name in the U.S. Two months later GM officially announced its intent to sell the car in North America.

The 2008 Saturn Astra will be largely unchanged from its Opel counterpart. And based on past tries at bringing the Delta chassis over, such as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion, that’s a wise move. Opel designers were permitted a bunch of freedom and the result is a clean and European look that GM doesn’t intend to meddle with in America.

Despite technically being a domestic car here in the U.S., the 2008 Saturn Astra will be built in Antwerp, Belgium. Its unveiling at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show confirmed that redesigned bumpers, to meet Stateside regulations, are the only real aesthetic change.

Our first drive of the 2007 Opel Astra 1.8 gave us an idea what to expect when the chassis makes it Stateside in November 2007. The Astra will compete with the likes of Honda’s Civic, the Mazda three and Volkswagen’s Rabbit.

It will come with a 1.8-liter Ecotec inline-4 with 140 horsepower, which puts it right on par with the base Civic. But it falls short of the Volkswagen Rabbit through 10 hp and the Mazda three through as much as 16. We can only hope GM brings over the more sporting turbocharged 2.0-liter 170-hp mill for the Saturn Astra Red Line. Or the 237-hp Holden Special Vehicles version dealt in Australia.

Bringing the Astra to America is the no-brainer GM should have pulled years ago. More than half a million Astras have been sold in Europe alone final year, as well as it’s a quantum leap forward from the 2007 Saturn Ion it replaces. More than just an economical Honda Civic alternative, the Astra is a darling among tuners overseas, including German tuners Steinmetz and Lumma. The huge following is a stark contrast to the relatively small market share GM has in the American sport compact scene.

The Astra will arrive in both three- and five-door flavors, the former being deliberately sportier. The European three-door comes with a Sport switch, which tightens up the steering and throttle response, such as that in our long-term Mini Cooper S. America may eventually see the Astra Panoramic, which features a cockpitlike windshield that sweeps overhead. Also a distant possibility is the innovative Astra Twin Top, which features a retractable, three-piece hard top, as well as would compete with the hard-topped 2007 Volkswagen Eos.

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