2008 Saturn Astra XR 3-Door: "American" is Not Its First Language


For years, many automotive enthusiasts have bemoaned the fact that both GM and Ford make beautifully executed vehicles for Europe, while we Yanks get cheap and plasticky land yachts with marshmallow suspensions. It killed me that – for example – we would get crusty old Ford Tauruses while Europe got the slick Mondeo – the latest generation of which Europeans genuinely consider to give the BMW 3-Series a run for the money, despite its everyman market positioning. It also annoyed that American GM owners on a budget were stuck with Cavaliers and Ions while Europeans got the stylish Opel Astra – a sporty and stylish small car with build quality that most American GM cars of the time could only dream of.
Sometimes, GM and Ford’s American operations would bring over Americanized versions of their European cars. For the most part, however, they were simply sad shadows of what they were in Europe, with all the appealing features and finish removed for cost. Why? The rationale was that Europeans pay a lot more for their vehicles than we do, and in order to bring those costs down to levels amenable to price sensitive American customers, all the cool stuff had to come out.


The best looking US-brand GM small car…ever?

Things have changed though. Gasoline’s $4.00 per gallon now, and GM is undergoing something of a product renaissance. Saturn, as a GM brand, is undergoing a transformation as well with customers being asked to “rethink American”. The new Aura, Outlook, Sky, and Vue are clear winners (the latter two are AutoPacific’s 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Award winners in their respective segments), and the new Astra aims to continue that success.

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Opel Antara: First Images Released


Your First Look at the 2008 Saturn Vue
General Motors is wisely pairing Saturn and Opel brands to help revive Saturn at a minimal cost, as well as getting Opel a couple of new products just as efficiently. This strategy is being implemented with several new models for 2007 and 2008 model year. We’ve already reported on the Saturn Aura, which borrows from Opel sedans in Europe, and the Saturn Sky, which was takes cues from an Opel concept and shares more than a passing resemblance to the new Opel GT. Next to come to market will be the Saturn Vue and Opel Antara.
These four-door, car-based SUVs were previewed by a concept called the Opel Antara GTC at the 2005 Frankfurt auto show and called the Saturn PreVue at the 2006 New York auto show. Differences between the Saturn concept and the Opel concept were found in the badge; both even sported the same 212HP four-cylinder diesel and six-speed automatic powerplant. Opel will get the production version first, just as they showed the concept first. The Opel Antara goes on sale by the end of the 2006 and gets a formal introduction at the 2006 Paris auto show this September. Ahead of the show introduction, however, Opel has released intial photos. AutoPacific and VehicleVoice are happy to bring them to you.


The 2007 Opel Antara should give us a remarkably accurate peek at the 2008 Saturn Vue. A contemporary and attractive family look is shaping up for Saturn, which the updated Vue should complement nicely, and the inspiration by Opel may prove to be a very smart decision and wise allocation of resources. These two brands can share themes and products more easily than GM’s North American brands. As there is no intention of bringing the Opel brand to the States or Saturn to Europe, there is no need to be concerned with cannibalization of one another’s sales.

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