2007 Chicago Auto Show: Saturn Astra Interior Up Close

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One of the most anticipated introductions today was Saturn’s new Astra compact two-door and four-door hatchbacks. I got to spend some up-close time with the Astra and came away even more impressed than I was when we first ran the press photos on Monday.

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Overall, all the materials are high-quality, with buttons and knobs made from a soft, rubber-like substance that was easy to grip.

The steering wheel has an odd center shape but felt meaty in my hands. Controls included a volume dial on the right that spins up and down. I have no clue what the controls on the left do.

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The center stack seemed a bit jumbled, with a lot of room between environmental and stereo controls, BUT I love the huge knobs for volume, tuning, temperature, vent speed, etc. More cars should have the good, old-fashioned knob play this prominent a position.

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The manual shifter felt nice in the hand, but I couldn’t test it out on the turnstile.

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Over to the left of the steering wheel is another knob! This one is for the headlights; there are buttons for the fog lights and illumination levels.

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The hatchback didn’t seem very big in the two-door version — the four-door was being lifted on a jack to get properly positioned, so I couldn’t open that one — with little cargo room. However, it seemed larger than the VW GTI or Volvo C30. 

2007 Chicago Auto Show: 2008 Saturn Astra

Photo of David Thomas
Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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