Junkyard Find: 2008 Saturn Astra XE

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 2008 saturn astra xe

Remember the Saturn Astra? A Belgian-built Opel Astra, it was supposed to replace the Ion, but GM had a few distractions around that time and axed the Saturn Astra early in 2009… followed by the Saturn brand itself.

Just two model years, poor sales, weird Euro-Detroit badge-engineering hijinks, and a near-instant disappearance from cultural memory: just what I like best in a Junkyard Find!

I had been keeping my eyes open for an Astra for a couple of years, and it took a bad crash to send this one to a Denver self-service yard. It appears that someone nabbed the transmission, leaving the 138 hp Ecotec 1.8-liter sitting atop the wreckage.

The huge panoramic sunroof was a signature Saturn feature during the marque’s final years.

This one still has the manual for the futuristic audio system, which could play MP3 files on home-burned CDs; meanwhile, younger car buyers wanted to plug their Zunes into auxiliary audio input jacks, which I’m pretty sure this car doesn’t have. Bluetooth? That’ll never catch on!

This one has stickers from two different Colorado car dealers, including one on the other side of the Rockies from this yard.

I have never been a driver or passenger in an Astra, but I hear that they were pretty good driving cars (by late-2000s GM standards), though on the underpowered side. The interior certainly has that “affordable European commuter” look.

Definitely a couple of Zune owners here.

Isn’t trying to be cool the furthest thing from being cool?

Over in Yurp, it was assumed that most Astra buyers would want the manual transmission.

In Australia, the Holden Astra became the driver, which made parking easier.

Egyptian Astras did some impressive stunts.

In Poland, the Astra had, uh, Zorro?

Meanwhile, in Russia.

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  • Cimarron typeR Cimarron typeR on Aug 23, 2018

    a work friend had a Saturn Opel SUV Vue?, it was solidly built , quiet but had very little rear leg room and was thirsty compared to Equinoxes, Escapes it competed with, but had a nicer interior than all of them.

  • Dannew02 Dannew02 on Sep 09, 2018

    In 2008, my wife and I were having our first kid. SHe basically forbid me from putting her in either my Miata, or my Dodge Shadow, because obviously a baby would immediately die in either of those cars (rolleyes) Anyway she said I HAD to get a brand-new car, and the Astra was the first one I looked at. I liked the manual-trans 4-door hatch because I had a couple of those already (Dodge Lancer, Plymouth Duster and the Shadow I currently had) Anyway I really liked the Astras I saw, but the dealer only had fully-loaded examples on hand, and basically refused to let me order one the way I wanted. I also looked at Nissan Versas as well. The Nissan dealer also only had loaded, auto vehicles, but was willing to get me one equipped the way I wanted. After driving both of them, they were grossly similar- neither was as quick as my V6 Shadow, the Astra felt "nicer" than the Versa (of course being the loaded-up version) it had too much "stuff". I'm old and don't want power stuff or phone integration. THe base Versa also literally cost 1/2 of what the fancy Astra cost! It didn't have projector headlights, sunroof, aluminum wheels, etc but I didn't want any of that, anyway... The Saturn dealer literally said, "These are what we have, take it or leave it" and they did the "no haggle" pricing too, so I could literally buy two Versas for what all the Astras were gonna cost. I really wanted to buy something "American" (stupid, because I knew they were made in Europe) but I went with the Nissan and less than a year later Saturn was gone. The former Saturn dealer is now a used car lot/oil change place... I put over 100K on my Versa in less than 4 years, and the only problem I had with it was hitting a deer, so I think I made the right decision.

  • Tassos While Acura was the first Japanese attempt to sell 'luxury' (or "premium") vehicles in the US market, and despite its original good success in the near-luxury segment with the Legend and the far smaller and less expensive Itegra (a glorified Civic), it later lost its momentum and offered a series of underwhelming vehicles. It sure is not a LUXURY maker, and as long as it offers FWD or AWD and NOT RWD vehicles, it will never be taken seriously as a serious sports cars maker. Infiniti is much worse, and if both of them go under, few will notice. Lexus was more successful, offering pimped up TOyotas for 10,000s more, but there is NO vehicle in their lineup, esp now that they scewed up the only serious entry (the LS), that I would care to consider. AND I say all this as a very satisfied owner of 5-speed Honda coupes and hatchbacks (a 1991 Civic hatch and a 1990 Accord Coupe).
  • Mike Beranek Yet another reason to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles charged with energy from wind & solar with modern, non-Monty Burns nuclear as a backup.
  • Tassos The cap the timid Western Europeans agreed to, a HIGH $60, which still lets Putin make a TON of billions of $, was way too HIGH. Ukraine correctly complained about this, it had asked for a $20 cap, I believe.
  • FreedMike "...I wouldn’t recommend holding your breath until fuel prices drop."Regular is $2.87 at my local gas station today. Considering that it was over four bucks this summer, I'd call that a drop. And it happened with the war still going on, the GOP not taking over Congress, Dark Brandon in the White House, and the Theoretical Keystone Pipeline still being canned. Imagine that. And I wonder if poor Slavuta has broken out the "will rap for food" sign yet.
  • THX1136 I would imagine the caps will have minimal impact. Putin is going to do what he wants to do regardless of how the citizens of his country fare.