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Saturn: Astra news **2008 First Drive by Edmunds (page 2)**

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Saturn: Astra news **2008 First Drive by Edmunds (page 2)**

 
Old 02-08-2007, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by phile
Judging by the real life feel of the Aura and Sky (whose interiors looked really good in pics), I wouldn't bet on it being the lighting.
Well, I haven't sat in an Aura yet so I dunno.

I am glad that they didn't change the styling though.

The miniscule driver's center is puzzling though. Obviously the space is for a much bigger display. I think they should have either put that in or just ditched it altogether.
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Old 02-08-2007, 08:55 PM
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Liking the outside but the interior looks like cheap city! What's with the wannabe nav screen?
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Old 02-08-2007, 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by driver centric
Liking the outside but the interior looks like cheap city! What's with the wannabe nav screen?
It looks like they cheaped out on one and went with that little thing instead.

Except that Oops? they didn't

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Old 02-23-2007, 06:11 PM
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Saturn will also get further bodystyles of the Europe-built compact, the Astra. Three-door and five-door hatchbacks were unveiled at the Chicago autoshow, but sedan and a coupe-cabrio called TwinTop will make the transition to Saturns.
Future Ion TwinTop

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Old 02-23-2007, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by charliemike
It looks like they cheaped out on one and went with that little thing instead.

Except that Oops? they didn't

The Opel interior isn't like a euro focus versus a us focus... the opel isn't ozing quality from its plastics vs a cobalt etc...its in the same range with a different design as the cobalt. The star point was the diesel engine which is obviously being denied like it never existed for the US market while small ass companies in the US like VW say they do exist and that they can meet Calif. regulations.
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Old 02-23-2007, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by heyitsme
The Opel interior isn't like a euro focus versus a us focus... the opel isn't ozing quality from its plastics vs a cobalt etc...its in the same range with a different design as the cobalt. The star point was the diesel engine which is obviously being denied like it never existed for the US market while small ass companies in the US like VW say they do exist and that they can meet Calif. regulations.
I agree. But, I think if Honda came out with a diesel people would say, "Hmm, I'll have to consider that" but if Chevy came out with a diesel they'd say, "Hell no. I still remember that shitty 1983 *insert GM diesel here* ... There's no way I'm buying a diesel from them."

Which is why a Saturn diesel makes ALL the sense in the world. No stigma and if the diesel is a good one then Chevy can say, "Dude, it's the same one in the Ion."

*shrug*
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Old 02-24-2007, 02:57 PM
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Interior pic from the Saturn site:


And the Holden versions of the Astra:
http://www.holden.com.au/www-holden/...eid=26&navid=1

If you thought the center display was small, check out the Holden ones; they're TINY. (Clock and current CD track info only.) I wouldn't mind the hard-top convertible though.
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Old 02-24-2007, 03:51 PM
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^^ I think the new Holden Astra has the same center display.
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Old 02-24-2007, 04:53 PM
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It looked good to me until the interior pics (which honestly didn't surprise me). My parents had a 2001 or 2002 Opel Astra while living in Belgium, and while the exterior was good, the interior was nothing to write home about. They had the diesel version, which was great.
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Old 02-24-2007, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by charliemike
^^ I think the new Holden Astra has the same center display.
Not the CD Hatch, at least. 2nd pic.
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Old 02-25-2007, 10:44 AM
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it really isnt that bad considering where it enters the market. I like it for what it is... and nothing more.
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Old 02-26-2007, 11:46 AM
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyOUrbQXtOs

If GM was smart, they bring the Vauxhall Vectra VXR here. Its fast in a straight line, so North America would love this car.
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Old 02-26-2007, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Black Tire
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyOUrbQXtOs

If GM was smart, they bring the Vauxhall Vectra VXR here. Its fast in a straight line, so North America would love this car.
That's essentially what I posted earlier in this thread but it was the Opel Astra GTC IIRC.

Reviewers didn't praise the car though. I think it was a little too severe.
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Old 10-31-2007, 05:34 PM
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Post Tuner version at SEMA...



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Old 10-31-2007, 05:35 PM
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Press release from GM...

With its lean, taut bodywork stretched over a long wheelbase and wide track, the all-new Saturn Astra has an undeniably sporty stance. Fortunately, its European-inspired driving dynamics and energetic 1.8L Ecotec engine back up those aggressive good looks with commensurate performance, making the Astra prime material for all-out tuner treatment. Saturn got the ball rolling at SEMA with the Astra Tuner, a concept vehicle that applies some of the latest bolt-on performance and appearance components to show what’s possible with this all-new compact. The Astra Tuner is based on a production XR three-door and features approximately 20 more horsepower and a lowered ride height. Numerous exterior enhancements – including 19-inch wheels –give the car a racier look. It may be the first, but this unique Saturn certainly won’t be the last personalized Astra.

Vehicle highlights:

Astra XR three-door

1.8L Ecotec DOHC four-cylinder with approximately 160 horsepower, via exhaust header, cold-air intake and modified throttle body

Five-speed manual transmission

Lowered ride height

New front and rear fascia extensions

New grille surround finish

Tinted headlamps, taillamps and windows

Rear center-outlet exhaust

Production side moldings deleted

High-performance Recaro seats

Unique interior trim

Unique sill plates and parking brake handle

GM Accessories (production and concept)

OPC 19-inch wheels (concept)

OPC rockers (concept)

OPC rear spoiler

GMA pedals (part number 93183691)

Blaupunkt sound system
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Old 10-31-2007, 05:36 PM
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better, but still not great
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Old 10-31-2007, 06:08 PM
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Not feeling the rear end
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Old 11-19-2007, 12:25 AM
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First Drive: 2008 Saturn Astra
CanadianDriver

Review and photos by Jil McIntosh


Los Angeles, California - The global picture may be getting smaller, but there are still some areas where North America and Europe are worlds apart, and one of them is automotive. Across the pond, driving is a passion, fuel efficiency is paramount, and they've got a raft of marvelous little cars that we can only long to find on North American roads.


Some of them make their way over here, but by the time they do, they're often so watered down for our market that we wonder what the fuss is all about. A notable exception is the 2008 Saturn Astra, now coming into dealer showrooms. "It has changes for North American standards, but these are invisible to the customer," said Dan Burton, Marketing Manager of Saturn Canada on the vehicle's recent launch to the press. "Our intention was to bring over the European Astra intact, not to 'North Americanize' the car."

To that end, the Saturn Aura has a few interior issues that could use some attention, but the driving experience is absolutely exemplary. If driving is your passion, this is the car you want to drive.

Europeans seem to agree, too. This Saturn is an Opel in disguise - the brand name changes here, but it's called Astra in every market it's sold - and it's second in overall European sales only to the Volkswagen Golf. In the "three-door" segment, the company's name for a two-door hatchback, it's the bestseller. The first two generations of Astra sold over 7.2 million combined, and this latest one, launched in 2004, is averaging 500,000 copies a year.

Built in Antwerp, Belgium, the Astra is available with four doors in XE and XR trim, and as a two-door in XR trim only. All models use a 1.8-litre Ecotec four-cylinder engine that makes 140 horsepower and 126 lb-ft of torque, mated to a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. A four-speed may seem old hat in a marketplace where five-speed automatics are becoming the norm for compact cars, but GM justifies it by simply saying that it works. And it does, frankly; although I only got to drive that configuration for a short time, it's a smooth-shifting unit that most people will find works well.

The Astra is also less expensive than its competitors, and that's going to be a large part of its appeal: the four-door XE is $17,900, the XR is $20,490, and the sportier two-door XR is $21,225. GM officials crunched the numbers against the competition, comparing the Astra's relatively lengthy list of standard features to Honda Civic DX, Mazda3 GX and Volkswagen Rabbit, with price differences of $920 to $2,510 in Saturn's favour when adjustments were made for optional or non-available equipment.

I'd always thought bringing a vehicle into the North American market from Europe would be just a case of pointing the boat in the right direction, but there's much more to it than that. The most noticeable change between the Opel and Saturn is in the fascias, swapped both for brand recognition and to meet our bumper standards. The engine has been recalibrated for emissions standards, including a new catalytic converter, and for the temperature changes and altitudes found here but uncommon in the Astra's hometown. The headlights have been changed, and energy-absorbing materials have been added under the headliner and trim panels for safety standards. The seats are the same as in Europe, but we get bigger front brake rotors, which the company says gives a pedal feel that North Americans expect. Canada also gets a standard block heater that's optional in the U.S.

The Astra uses a MacPherson front suspension with stabilizer bar, while a torsion beam brings up the rear. The official report is that it "saves parts and space" over a four-link set-up, which is corporate-speak for "saves money", but that's not necessarily a bad thing. There are a few items that could have been swapped out for more expensive upgrades, but what's in there works, and keeping the price down is going to be a major factor in making the Astra a success. Although they're not even near the same league, this is the car that takes over the entry-level Ion's spot in Saturn's line-up. It isn't sports car enthusiasts arguing in chat rooms that will make or break the Astra, but everyday buyers who want an $18,000 car to get them to work.

The volume seller will be the five-door, of course; it's easier to access the rear seats, which have surprisingly adequate room given the car's small footprint. It also offers a slightly softer ride, although it's still no slouch in the handling department, and the two-door's sport suspension can be optioned in the XR. Steering is electro-hydraulic, which offers the superior feel of a hydraulic unit, but with a pump that's driven by an electric motor to reduce the engine draw and, in turn, improve fuel efficiency. The result is excellent steering feel, with no vagueness, and good on-centre accuracy.

The car tracks flat through corners, with just a touch of understeer, and it's an incredibly tight package. There's not a squeak, rattle or vibration anywhere in it, save for wind noise in both front windows on the highway where the air tumbles around the mirrors. There is absolutely no feeling of the front wheels pulling the back ones around the curves, as can often happen with soft-sprung vehicles; this is a cohesive little unit that almost feels like an extension of one's hands and feet. Electronic stability control is standard on the two-door, and can be optioned on the four-door.

So what's not to love? There are a few things, and they can be very annoying. GM doesn't like the inside door handles to override the locks - an engineer explained that it's a safety feature, although I've not heard complaints of people falling out of competitor's vehicles onto the roadway, and that's what rear-door child locks are for anyway. On most GM cars, the automatic door locks open when you put the transmission in Park, but since Astra comes to North America intact from a continent fond of standards, you have to pull out the key before the locks pop up, or you must hit a central lock button on the dash. Your passengers won't like it when they have to wait for you to release them.

The centre stack is handsome, but it's form over function. The heater controls are very low on the stack, which also slopes inward, and their dark grey indicators are impossible to see. I ended up turning on the headlights each time I wanted to reset the heater mode, because that lit up the numbers with orange lights, and that was the only way I could see them. The stereo buttons are small and fiddly, and overall, the whole stack is far too complicated. The wipers are rain-sensing only - you can't switch them to straight intermittent - and while I didn't get a chance to try them out in sunny California, I've yet to meet a set that worked well in drizzle or snow. When I'm queen of the world, rain-sensing wipers will be the first thing to go.

My final complaint was trying to get OnStar to speak up. The Astra's OnStar package includes Turn-by-Turn navigation, which very effectively takes the place of an in-dash system. I simply hit the OnStar button, gave the operator my destination, and once the call had ended, the system downloaded all the directions to my vehicle. As a navigation system does, it gave me voice commands to guide me to my destination.

The problem was that my vehicle was a base XE without air conditioning, it was hot, and I was driving with the windows open on the freeway, which meant I couldn't hear the system's commands. My co-driver and I tried unsuccessfully to turn it up - our car didn't have an owner's manual - and so we finally hit the OnStar button again and asked the operator how to do it. Just turn the radio dial, she said. Well, that worked, but only for that particular command. Once the next one came up, the volume was back down where we couldn't hear it, and we had to crank the radio dial up each time we heard the command start up. I'm guessing there was some way to dig deep into the system and find the trick to keeping the volume at a certain level, but we were unable to do it. My firm opinion is that when I'm in something that does 100 km/hr with ease and can kill people if I'm not paying attention, all controls should be simple and immediately intuitive.

The radio also lacks an auxiliary jack for an iPod or other music player, and the XM Satellite radio available on other GM products has yet to be added here. It's a minor thing, but Saturn says it's targeting the 25- to 35-year-old market, and that's a group that likes its music on demand; a missing iPod jack could be enough to send them elsewhere.

The Astra was a perfect fit for me, at 5-foot-4, with firm but supportive seats, a perfectly-sized wheel, and with the manual, a short-throw shifter that fell easily to hand. My 6-foot-2 co-driver took a bit longer to find his position, helped by the wheel's tilt and telescopic ability, but his knees were still bent very high.

Europeans pay attention when they drive, and stop to sit when they want a coffee, and to that end, GM's marketing manager told me that getting cupholders into the Astra involved quite a fight. There's only one for both front-seat passengers, and it's awkwardly placed behind the shifter; rear-seat folks get two, which slide out between them from under the seat cushion. The seats fold to increase the cargo area, which is fairly generous for the Astra's size.

Visibility is an issue: the rear window is a slit - it doesn't fill the rear-view mirrors - and the side windows taper off, with very little glass at their tips. You'll need to be meticulous about positioning the side-view mirrors properly, and they could be larger, as well.

All that sounds like there's a lot wrong with it, but there's a great deal that's right, too. Fit and finish is excellent, the stereo quality is very good, all plastics are high quality and soft-touch, there's a European "tap" turn signal switch with three-flash lane change, the short-throw shifter is fun to row, the brakes are strong, and on the automatic, there's an unusual feature that automatically puts the transmission into Neutral when you're sitting at a light, even though the selector remains in Drive. The engineers say it improves the idle and also saves a little bit of fuel: it's no hybrid auto-stop, but if your commute always involves stop-and-go traffic, it'll make a slight difference in your fuel economy. There's also a "snow switch" that launches the automatic in third gear for improved traction slippery roads.

There's also a fairly substantial list of standard features for the price, including heated mirrors, cruise control, power locks, express-down on all windows (also operable from the key fob), six airbags, anti-lock brakes, the aforementioned OnStar with Turn by Turn navigation (it's free for the first year, with a subscription fee afterwards), and stability control on the two-door, available as an option on the four-door.

Perhaps more so than Americans, Canadians have always been fond of European influence in their vehicles; we're also not afraid of hatchbacks, with their funky styling and impressive practicality. The Astra has some packaging issues, and you'll have to test-drive it thoroughly to see if you can live with them, but when it comes to carving corners - or even just taking it sedately to the grocery store - this Belgian transplant is a hands-down winner.
http://www.canadiandriver.com/articles/jm/08astra.htm
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Old 01-11-2008, 01:25 PM
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Full Test: 2008 Saturn Astra XR Three-Door

German, by Way of Tennessee
By Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant Email
Date posted: 01-10-2008


Like the musical stylings of David Hasselhoff or a dinner of bovine organs smothered in vinegar, the premium-class hatchback is a concept that Germans love, but Americans can't quite understand. The 2008 Saturn Astra XR hopes to change all that.

When you consider the hard-core audience for the Volkswagen GTI in the U.S., it shouldn't be that hard to counter the image of entry-level crumminess that the hatchback has acquired over the years. Of course, BMW failed with the 1995 318Ti and Mercedes-Benz failed with the 2002 C230 Sport Coupe. But Saturn, the no-haggle lifestyle brand from Tennessee, has an ace up its sleeve. Or should we say ein ace.

GM has raided its Opel and Vauxhall brands in Europe to bring back a quality small car, then give it a brand that inspires trust plus a price that doesn't inspire fear.

German, Only From Tennessee by Way of Belgium
Everything you need to learn about the character of the 2008 Saturn Astra XR can be found in its key fob. The switchblade style favored by VW lets you know that Saturn is thinking GTI here. Of course, there are consequences for thinking in German, as you can tell by the key fob's cryptographic buttonry. There are two slash marks in parallel on one side of the face, two slash marks at approximately 45-degree angles to each other, and you're supposed to figure out that one button locks the doors and the other unlocks them. And then there's the clock, which reads only in military-style 24-hour time.

It's a clear sign that GM hasn't been tampering with the original German recipe, which has been derived from the Opel Astra. And now that gasoline costs $3 per gallon, it seems smarter to have a European recipe for a small hatchback than it used to be.

Premium means this hatchback comes with everything, so it's fully electrified with convenience features, though not an auxiliary jack for your iPod. There's a full complement of airbags, including a head-protection curtain for both the front and rear seats. Even OnStar is standard and free for one year.

The Belgian-built three-door XR is set apart from its four-door counterpart by a full sporting makeover, with unique bodywork, a special interior with a sport steering wheel and high-bolstered sport seats, a firmer sport suspension, electrohydraulic steering with a quicker ratio, and standard stability control.

The Look of Performance
Bridging the gap between sporty and classy, the Astra's smartly designed exterior is highlighted by a sharp crease that defines the rising beltline. The steeply raked front end is all business, an impression reinforced by the prominently flared fenders. The optional 18-inch star-spoke wheels also seem to sit at the extreme corners of this car, making it look more compact than you'd guess from its 102.9-inch wheelbase.

Of course, what you probably won't notice until you're sitting snug in the driver seat is the lack of visibility produced by the rising beltline and a roof that angles sharply toward the front. Or at least the perceived lack of visibility.

When you're looking through the bunker-style slit of the windshield and trying to check blind spots over your shoulder, this lack of friendly visibility seems like a deal breaker in a car that's really meant for the city. But despite what outward appearances imply, the visibility in practice is functional. Not good by any means, but we spent a weekend in famously parking-challenged Santa Barbara with the Astra and paralleled-parked our way into small slots fairly effortlessly more than a half-dozen times. So don't sweat it.

Lots of Growl, Not Much Bite
This 1.8-liter version of the Ecotec inline-4 seems a little low-tech with its iron block, yet its weight is comparable to that of an aluminum-block engine (so Saturn claims) and it features variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts. But it all adds up to no more than 138 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 125 pound-feet of torque at 3,800 rpm, which is not exactly the sporting power we were hoping for.

The overall propulsion is pretty good, and the engine has a wide, generous power band, but it's always growling and grows coarse as you approach redline. There's not much snap to this engine, and when you rev it to the power peak, you bounce right off the rev limiter at redline, which lies only a few rpm higher at 6,500 rpm.

As in most German cars, the shift action of this five-speed manual combines long, light-effort throws with strong but notchy gear engagement. It's not as intuitive to find the path between gears as we'd like and the 2-3 shift in particular requires the accuracy of a Golden Gloves jab and can't be rushed.

At the test track, the slightly heavy 2,814-pound Astra XR plods to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds and then crosses the 1,320-foot mark in 16.8 seconds at 82.5 mph. (This happened in 3rd gear instead of 4th, a rare occurrence among cars like this.)

Geared for There, Not Here
As with most Euro-specification transmissions, this one is geared for low-rpm cruising in 3rd gear, and this is fine for driving around town. But carving through the corners will leave you wishing for 2nd-and-a-half and 3rd-and-a-half. As it is, the revs run out too soon in 2nd, and then the power peak is too far away in 3rd.

If you drive in sub-45-mph commute traffic, the gentle throttle tip-in and easy clutch action make it a breeze. But if you drive as hot as the Astra looks, you'll find the throttle response lethargic and the clutch engagement of the did-I-just-step-in-something? persuasion, so the XR bogs off the line.

It's too bad because the Astra XR's chassis is really up to something. It has the heavily damped poise on the road that makes European cars so distinctive. And when you're in a hurry, the 215/45R18 Pirelli P Zero Rosso tires really stick to the pavement, managing 0.88g on the skid pad.

With a quick 14:1 steering ratio, a linear buildup of steering effort and good feedback from the 18-inch Pirellis, the Astra XR can be hammered confidently through canyon sweepers or inner-city on-ramps. Quick responses (enhanced by a lack of bodywork overhang) and plenty of tire grip made short work of our slalom course at a stunning 69.1 mph, a speed on par with the Mazdaspeed 3 and Mini Cooper S. Push really hard and the Astra XR will pivot around its outside front tire and lift the inside corner of its torsion-beam rear axle just like an old-school VW GTI.

And when you've got your game on, you'll be glad you're backed up by brakes that seem up to this slightly heavy package. They have plenty of initial bite and the pedal stays firm as you lean into them, pulling the car up in just 112 feet.

Hot or Not?
The 2008 Saturn Astra XR's racy good looks are both its best feature and its biggest source of disappointment.

It looks hot. But it's not just hot; it's hot in that hot hatch way that screams "Small car, big fun!" Unfortunately, the XR just can't quite cash the check its appearance writes, as the engine and transmission seem to be on a mission to deliver only the thrifty 25.2 mpg we observed despite our best efforts.

For all that, this is a fun car to drive, but it's not sharp enough to make you overlook the Mini Cooper and the Volkswagen GTI. Then again, this Astra XR's bottom line at $20,330 makes it look a lot more interesting.

We're waiting for the Astra Red Line that has to be waiting in the wings. If the Holden Astra VXR is any indication, it should be great.
http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do...hotopanel..2.*

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Old 01-11-2008, 02:51 PM
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Saturn is so close... redline me please
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Old 01-11-2008, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Black Tire
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyOUrbQXtOs

If GM was smart, they bring the Vauxhall Vectra VXR here. Its fast in a straight line, so North America would love this car.
A year old but I never watched it ... Just did and I'm mourning the fact that while the ST220 was the slowest of the three it's by far the best looking.
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Old 07-08-2008, 03:42 AM
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saw one of these today on the road, exactly this color (I believe) and to my surprise... it was a very good looking car!!!


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Old 07-08-2008, 07:44 AM
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yes it is - I see one at my gym regularly these days. It needs a redline model!
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Old 07-08-2008, 07:48 AM
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Good, but not quite Mazda 3 good.
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Old 07-08-2008, 07:55 AM
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I like it
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Old 07-09-2008, 04:44 PM
  #66  
an asshole from florida
 
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: GO GATORS!
Age: 30
Posts: 9,406
Received 17 Likes on 15 Posts
i would love to get one of these, just it needs a peppy-er engine. the car has the looks just is lacking in power. I am looking at a new car in 3 years and wouldnt mind having this honestly
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