[url]http://nctd.com/sneakpreview.cfm?Vehicle=2008_Saturn_Astra&ReviewID=149[/url]\n\n2008 Saturn Astra\n\nBy John Rettie\n\nOn Sale: Fall 2007\nExpected Pricing: ,000-,000\n\n\nSaturn is launching a new car to replace the Ion compact this fall.\nThe introduction of the 2008 Saturn Astra, revealed to the American\npublic at the Chicago auto show, will complete a revamp of the entire\nSaturn lineup that began little over a year ago.\n\nThe new Saturn Astra is essentially a federalized version of the Opel\nAstra. The snazzy looking Astra is a common sight there, and was the\ntop-selling model in its segment last year, outselling the Ford\nFocus.\n\nThe new 2008 Saturn Astra will be available as a three-door coupe or a\nfive-door hatchback.\n\nBoth the three-door coupe and the five-door hatchback will follow the\nmodern European look with a sleek front end and large rear end. The\nfive-door model has close to a vertical tailgate while the three-door\nmodel has a sloping tailgate with an interesting wrap around taillight\ntreatment.\n\nOpinions seemed to be equally divided among visitors to the Chicago\nauto show as to which version looked best. Some liked the five-door\nbest, while others thought the sportier three-door with it's lower\nroof line and larger wheels was far more attractive.\n\nInside, there is room for five passengers. The 60/40 split rear seat\nfolds down for increased storage space. When the seats are in use\nthere is 12 cubic feet of storage space under the cargo cover. Fold\ndown the back seats and this grows to 45 cubic feet, measured up to\nthe ceiling.\n\nThe instrument pod is located in front of the steering wheel and\nincorporates two large circular gauges for the speedometer and\ntachometer with a small analog fuel gauge between them. The center\nstack has a smooth faux aluminum finish. The controls are operated by\nlarge knobs.\n\nThe Astra will be offered in two trim levels, XE and XR. All models\nwill be powered by GM's 1.8-liter Ecotec engine with variable valve\ntiming producing 140 horsepower. Transmission choices are a five-speed\nmanual or four-speed automatic.\n\nSafety features on all Astra models include dual-stage frontal air\nbags, front seat-mounted side air bags to help protect front occupants\nand head curtain air bags for front- and rear-seat occupants. Other\nsafety features include active head restraints, collapsible pedals,\nfront safety belt pretensioners and load limiters plus OnStar with one\nyear of Safe & Sound service. StabiliTrak electronic stability control\nsystem with traction control is standard on the three-door, and\noptional on five-door models.\n\nThe Astra replaces the Ion as the lowest priced model in the Saturn\nlineup, although it will likely be priced a few thousand dollars\nhigher when it goes on sale in the fall.