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My Astra Review

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So the 2008 Astras were delivered today to my local dealer, and with

the snow coming, Kat & I headed down there to take a test drive. The

3 door was in the showroom, but the 5 door XE was outside and

available for test drives.

1st impression -

The car still looks good in person - much better than in pictures.

Evidently this is subjective, because Kat doesn't really like it in

person either. There is plenty of room inside - the sport seats in

the 3 door are very comfortable and supportive. Even the base seats

in the 5 door are a nice step up from the S-Series & Ion. The radio

looks a bit complicated, but the controls are easy to reach, and the

display is up high in the dash & easy to see. It looks like one of

the new fancy LCD screens, but it is only a text screen - no cool

graphics or nav :(

The interior is surprisingly roomy. I sat in the back of the 3 door

and slid the front seat all the way back. My knees barely touched

the seat back, but I was still comfortable for a ride across town.

With some cooperation from the front seat passenger, there is plenty

of room to be comfortable for a long drive (for those that don't know

me, I'm 6' 240lbs)

Leg room up front is impressive. with the steering wheel set at a

comfortable location, I had plenty of room around my knees, and even

though the car was an automatic, I don't see there being any problem

with my knee having clearance when shifting.

Fit & finish was quite nice. the materials look good, and don't feel

at all cheap. Now, if they hold up as well as the interiors in the

s-series, life will be good.

the drive -

Again, the car was a slushbox, so I couldn't get a feel for the

shifter, but as I remember from the pre-production car I sat in at

the Brand Advocacy meeting, the pedals are placed well for heel-toe,

and the shifter felt like it had positive engagement. I'll be able

to give a better review of the shifter & pedals in a few months.

(please note the foreshadowing) The 3 door has a firmer suspension

and lower ride hight, but the 5 door is surprisingly agile. Granted,

the car had 35 miles (40 when we got back), but there was very

limited body roll, which felt well controlled. The brakes are very

good. did an 80-0 panic stop, and the car felt very controllable,

with hardly any nose dive. The ABS is not very aggressive, as it

allowed just a hair of tire squeal. The XE does not have stabilitrac,

so I can't comment on how it reacts, but even without it, the car is

very easy to control. The acceleration is quite acceptable. I

didn't time it, but even with the slushbox, it felt to be on par with

a stock S-series, maybe a touch faster. One interesting feature of

the automatic - it shifts into neutral at a stop. The salesman

didn't know that - it's always fun to know more about the car than

the salesman. If you don't know it is doing it, you'd never notice.

The turning radius - oh, the turning radius! I'm almost sure if you

parked an Astra to the left of an S-series, and cranked them both to

full lock to the left, The Astra would stay inside the S-series!

Wind noise was quite minimal. even at 80, the salesman and I were

able to speak in normal quiet indoor voices. The headlights are nice

and bright, and they have that definite edge, similar to HID lights.

So, after the drive, and finding that I fit quite well in the car, I

plunked down my deposit, and ordered an XR 3 Door in Star Silver,

with Advanced Audio and Heated seats. Should be here in about 2


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I've been wondering if these can be factory-ordered, or if they'll be "allocated" to the dealers.

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I've been wondering if these can be factory-ordered, or if they'll be "allocated" to the dealers.

Yes, they can be ordered - it just takes a while to get it :(

The only Astra the dealer I'm using (we have 7 Saturn dealers in the metro area) has delivered was one that had been ordered. With Saturn's "no haggle pricing," there is no reason not to order one, unless you are in a time crunch.

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Looks good in both the silver and the blue. Did you get a manual or an auto?


Yeah, I thought about blue, but my '97 SC2 is blue, and my wife always wanted a Silver Saturn. And silver doesn't show dirt nearly as bad as darker colors.

An it's a 5-speed. I won't own an automatic. Why should I pay $1300 to make driving the car less fun???????

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Congrats on the car! I may be buying one in a few months also.

Good to know you didn't buy the slushbox!


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