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2008 Saturn Astra XE 5-Door Review (video)

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Amyot Bachand
A leap in the right direction
Offering a rebadged Opel Astra will only help GM's freshly revitalized division. Saturn executives, under the supervision of Bob Lutz, will score a lot of points with this hatchback, the build quality and driving dynamics of which will meet the expectations of compact car buyers.

The 2008 Saturn Astra XE is well thought-out and nicely equipped.

Saturn chose to include a comprehensive list of features with the 5-door Astra XE, which means the starting price is slightly above the segment's average. How does this added-value proposition translate on the road? My colleague Bertrand Godin and I took it to the streets at different times of the year (winter and spring); the following is a recap of our various tests.

Access to the trunk is made easier thanks to a convenient cargo threshold. On the flip side, the available room inside the trunk is limited. You have to fold the rear seats down to enjoy about the same capacity as most competitors.

At the other end, opening the hood is a breeze thanks to the hydraulic shock. Therefore, we had an easy time checking the battery and filling the windshield washer fluid tank.

Nice interior
Four decently-sized doors make access to the passenger compartment easier. The layout is somewhat grim but well built nonetheless. The interior is surprisingly quiet for such an entry-level car; it's easy to keep up a conversation and appreciate the sweet-sounding audio system.

The front heated seats of our XE 1SB tester were accommodating and nicely supportive. You can drive for long periods of time and not feel any real pain or fatigue. Rear legroom is reasonable; however, the sloping roofline reduces headroom. Kids or young teenagers will feel more at ease than adults.

Driving cockpit
With an adjustable driver's seat and a tilt/telescopic steering wheel, finding a good driving position is easy. The instrument cluster is fairly basic; while it may be more difficult to find data on the engine, GM had the clever idea to include a gear selection reminder. On the other hand, the rearview mirror is too close to the driver's face.

The chrome strip adorning the front grille gives it a touch of class.
Amyot Bachand
Amyot Bachand
Automotive expert