The last time I had this much fun was driving my 1975 Opel Manta (imported by Buick), and the Astra (another Opel) handles even better. Previously I drove a VW Golf which my Astra with sports suspension beats hands down. It's no wonder the Astra sales have been neck and neck with Golfs in Europe for 5 years. The solid fit and finish, and classy interior rival my co-worker's BMW 5 series. It's quieter than any of the various midsize cars I've rented on trips (I can actually hear the nuances of a jazz CD at 70 mph). And what's more practical than a small hatchback? Once you read the quicky instructions, the computer controls are a snap. The best small car GM has sold.
Secure handling with stability and traction control, good driver vision in all directions, excellent fit and finish, top-level interior and exterior styling, quiet cabin for a car its size, rain sense wipers, auto headlights, hi-fi audio in XR, flatfolding seats for hatchback flexibilty, good mpg.
An overdrive on the auto transmission might boost the highway mpg even more.
I am 6'2", and many small cars won't work. This one does. I have all options on this car, including the sport package. The handling is excellent, and the steering is very quick. The mileage is about what the EPA estimates, although it falls off at speeds around 70 mph or higher. I am a fan of European cars, and this fills the bill without costing an arm and a leg (I have owned 3 Volvos, a Mercedes and a BMW).
Tight ride, large enough for a tall person, almost luxurious (Why can't Americans build a small luxury car that isn't too heavy or powerful?) Good daily driver, with room for four adults. A perfect car for me.
Gearing is toward the low end. I would allow a little higher speed at each rpm level. The mpg is OK, but could be a little better. The entertainment/computer center does almost everything, but it takes a while to figure out. The quick start manual is 18 pages long.
My Saturn Astra is my first car and I'm extremely happy with it. I like the European look and that the 3 door model isn't as popular as other cars in its class yet. I got an amazing deal on it because the dealership was cleaning out all the '08's. I saved about $7000 and got my windows tinted for half price. Other cars I was considering were Pontiac G5, Mazda 3, Honda Civic, Hyundai Accent and Ford Focus.
Handling. Fuel economy. Switchblade key. Standard rims. OnStar. Telescopic steering wheel and many seat adjustments. Winter driving mode. Auto lights and sensor wipers. Fog lights