I purchased a Saturn Astra in July 2008 because it was 0% financing and we needed a small car for commuting. The sunroof and heated seats were an unexpected bonus for the price. We had the car 1 month when the transmission created a problem and needed to be replaced. I told the dealer that this was unacceptable and I wanted a new car. Without arguement they said ok. I said my wife hated the red and would like a blue one. They said ok. In all my life I have never had a more positive consumer experience. We have had this car for 6 years and never had any mechanical issues. It has 150,000 kilometers and we have not even replaced the brake pads or mufflers. Great car.
Price new: $13,500 - bought winter 08 when the economony blew up and GM was giving cars away.
The car was made in Belgium, with German parts and an Aisin (Japanese) transmission. So unlike other Saturn/Opels the car thankfully wasn't Americanized with things like overly spongy suspensions. So the car is manuverable and a blast to toss around. I think its still arguably the best looking subcompact on the market.
Its really the best affordable European car on the market still today.
Really if you can get this car at about 75K miles and about $6-7K I would highly recommend it.
Reliablility has been very good -
Engine Coil ($550) and belt tensioner ($300) were the only problems (also changed brakes at 85K). Despite being a rare car in the US parts are relatively cheap. As said before the car is so fun to drive. The engine (1.8 130hp) is powerful for its class. Steering is responsive + the seats are firm and comfortable. No cheap plastics in the interior.
I get 25/31mpg on LRR tires and flat Maryland roads.
Cons: My biggest complaint is that there is no auxillary jack for mp3s and if you swap out the stereo you lose the center console computer and OnStar if you'd want it won't work.
4-speed AT is reliable but will get lost if you floor it.
Cup holder is hard to reach (they sell center consoles for the car for around $100-150 if it bothers you).
I purchased a 2008 saturn astra for the price of $26,000 plus warranty total for $31,000 and I have never in my life regreted something so much my first week with my car It had to have a major part replaced and i have had nothing but issues yet. all dealers close shortly after purchasing my car as i had purchased extras from that dealer they were void as they has closed down.I have never had such regret in my life there are a number of these cars around and I have had others have the same issues .When trying to purchase parts for my car they are nearly always unavailble and then i have to wait for 3-4 days if lucky If i could turn back time i would not buy this car it was not worth the $
After 2.5 years I still really love this car. Too bad they are no longer available here in the US. If Saturn had sold more cars like this they would still be around. Get comments from people asking what car that is, they love styling. Very firm fun car to drive. I live in Colorado and is great in snow. Have had no problems what so ever with vehicle. Dashboard controls a little hard to figure out as they are European based but not an major issue. A lot of car for the money I think.