2008 Saturn Astra

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$2,527–$7,551 Inventory Prices
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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
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Reviews
Safety & Recalls
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Key Specs

of the 2008 Saturn Astra. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    28 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    138-hp, 1.8-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    5-speed manual w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Handling
  • Decent interior quality
  • Heated cloth or leather seats
  • Two-door's sporty looks

The Bad

  • Rough ride at times
  • Automatic transmission performance
  • Very firm sport seats (two-door XR)
  • Quirky controls
  • Four-door looks peculiar

Notable Features of the 2008 Saturn Astra

  • Based on European Opel Astra
  • Two- or four-door hatchback
  • Side-impact and side curtain airbags
  • 138-hp four-cylinder
  • Distinctive styling between body styles

2008 Saturn Astra Road Test

Mike Hanley
Saturn's new Astra hatchback delivers a distinctly European driving experience. If you're familiar with this Saturn's origins — it's a product of GM's Opel brand in Europe — that probably won't come as a surprise to you, but it sure might to a number of Saturn buyers who come strolling into a dealership for a test drive.

What's likely to catch shoppers' eyes first is the two-door Astra XR's styling. It's much sleeker than the four-door hatchback, which is covered in a separate review, and features tapered side windows that increase the car's sportiness. The two-door's height is also a little shorter than the four-door's. This, combined with the coupe's long side doors, makes the car look longer and less boxy, even though the two- and four-doors are the same length.

The two-door Astra XR has a sport suspension, and it gives the Astra the ability to hold its own with a Volkswagen GTI in terms of cornering performance. Unfortunately, the very firm suspension means occupants are subject to a jarring ride on rough roads that's quite tiring. A softer setup would likely be preferable for many drivers, even if it gave up some handling prowess. The XR trim is the only version of the two-door Astra, so if you don't want the sport suspension you have to choose a four-door.

Even though the suspension communicates every bump and hole in the road to the cabin, the Astra didn't suffer from any ...
Saturn's new Astra hatchback delivers a distinctly European driving experience. If you're familiar with this Saturn's origins — it's a product of GM's Opel brand in Europe — that probably won't come as a surprise to you, but it sure might to a number of Saturn buyers who come strolling into a dealership for a test drive.

What's likely to catch shoppers' eyes first is the two-door Astra XR's styling. It's much sleeker than the four-door hatchback, which is covered in a separate review, and features tapered side windows that increase the car's sportiness. The two-door's height is also a little shorter than the four-door's. This, combined with the coupe's long side doors, makes the car look longer and less boxy, even though the two- and four-doors are the same length.

The two-door Astra XR has a sport suspension, and it gives the Astra the ability to hold its own with a Volkswagen GTI in terms of cornering performance. Unfortunately, the very firm suspension means occupants are subject to a jarring ride on rough roads that's quite tiring. A softer setup would likely be preferable for many drivers, even if it gave up some handling prowess. The XR trim is the only version of the two-door Astra, so if you don't want the sport suspension you have to choose a four-door.

Even though the suspension communicates every bump and hole in the road to the cabin, the Astra didn't suffer from any squeaks or rattles. The car has a very solid feel to it on the whole, which bolsters its credibility as a premium offering in the hatchback segment.

All Astras are powered by a 138-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that can team with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. My test vehicle had the automatic.

The four-cylinder makes adequate power, but considering the two-door's sporty looks the modest power is a bit of a letdown; something so sporty-looking deserves a more entertaining engine. The benefit, however, is better gas mileage — 24/30 mpg with the automatic transmission and 24/32 mpg with the manual — than two of its turbocharged rivals, the GTI and Volvo C30. The automatic transmission, though, hampers performance; it occasionally feels a little out of sync with the engine in terms of when it should change gears.

The automatic doesn't include a clutchless-manual mode for the driver to take control of gear changes, but it does give you the old-style "3," "2" and "1" settings after "D," which limit the highest gear it can be in at any one time.

The Astra's cabin is a bit of a mixed bag. While overall material quality and detailing is pretty good, the European controls and interfaces won't be familiar to most U.S. buyers. A number of buttons include symbols that, even after looking at them for a few minutes, aren't understandable. After fiddling with the controls awhile you get the hang of most of them, though.

The standard front sport seats in the two-door Astra XR are super firm — some of the firmest I've tested — and like the suspension I wouldn't mind if they were a tad softer. Leather-upholstered seats are included in the optional Premium Trim package, which also includes a leather-covered steering wheel.

Another shortcoming of the two-door Astra's cabin is poor rear visibility that's compromised by a small rear window and rather large C-pillars. This makes backing up more difficult than it should be in a car this size.

In terms of utility, the two-door Astra offers 12 cubic feet of cargo space behind the split-folding backseat. The space is pretty sizable considering the hatchback's low roof and sporty shape. Folding the rear backrests opens up 37.8 cubic feet of cargo room.

So where does the two-door Astra fit in the market? Its $18,375 base price is similar to a base Mini Cooper, and it's significantly lower than the GTI and C30, which start at nearly $23,000. It doesn't, however, have an energetic turbo engine like the VW and Volvo do.

Enthusiasts will likely find that to be the most frustrating thing about this car: It can't deliver the exciting driving experience that its looks suggest. However, if you're more interested in curb appeal than performance and can overlook its curious controls, you should add the two-door Astra to your consideration list.

Send Mike an email 



2008 Astra Video

From the L.A. Auto Show, Cars.com's Joe Wiesenfelder walks you through the 2008 Saturn Astra.

Latest 2008 Astra Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.7)
Performance
(4.0)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.3)
Reliability
(4.7)
Value For The Money
(4.7)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Most Reliable Vehicle

by MsFunnlvn from Sacramento, CA on July 3, 2018

I have owned my Saturn for 9 yrs. now, it's roomy, gets great gas mileage. Smooth ride, plenty of storage space, especially when you put the backseats down. I really like that I have a cover to close ... Read full review

(5.0)

Most reliable, gas saver

by Saturn astra fan from Cassopolis mi on April 14, 2018

This car has plenty of leg room for 2 dr. Very cool exterior look. 17 inch stock rims. Lots of room in hatch back trunk Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2008 Saturn Astra currently has 1 recall

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2008 Saturn Astra XE

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
acceptable
Overall Rear
acceptable
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
acceptable
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
acceptable
Overall Side
marginal
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
acceptable
Rear Passenger Torso
poor
Structure/safety cage
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Change Year or Vehicle

All Model Years for the Saturn Astra

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Astra received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker