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!

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This Is the New 2016 Opel Astra, Supposedly

Thanks to a leak from GM Europe, this is the next-generation 2016 Opel Astra before its planned debut later this year at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Only the five-door hatchback model is shown in the leaked batch, though Opel does plan to offer other variants, including a sedan, wagon and a hotted-up version.

Now, let’s see if engineers at Buick here in North America can figure out how to replace the Opel lightning logo with their own tri-shield.

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GM Agrees to Keep Three Opel Plants Open Through 2018

Opels being assembled in Eisenach, Germany

Just a few days after new GM CEO Mary Barra visited Opel’s headquarters in Ruesselsheim and said the company’s plant there will be assigned a new vehicle to build, General Motors’ Opel unit has come to an agreement with the company’s labor unions to extend until the end of 2018 a no-layoff guarantee at three German plants. According to Reuters, the Ruesselsheim factory, plants at Kaiserslautern and Eisenach will remain open. Opel also announced that the Eisenach assembly plant will build the next generation Opel Adam and Corsa models. Approximately 7,150 employees work at the three factories.

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Piston Slap: The Young Lady and the Key

Hi Steve and Sajeev:

My daughter has been driving the Saturn Astra recommended by Steve for a few months now and we can all say that it is a nice car — screwed together well, efficient and kinda sporty. I consider it to be a win. Except for a minor key issue.

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Poor Man's MQB: Opel's Next Gen Insignia Will Be An Astragnia

Opel is bleeding money and has to save at all costs. Opel hoped to share development of the next generation Insignia with PSA , but that was called off before it was even announced. According to German media reports, Opel engineers quickly developed a more cost effective solution: A head transplant.

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The Time My Girlfriend Almost Bought An Aveo

Back in April, Sajeev and Steve found some time to reply to my letter where I posed the impossible question. As gearheads, we all want something fun, fast, efficient, and cheap (well, most of us want cheap). Much like a traction circle, all these needs are in competition and in order to make good on one you need to sacrifice another. The ultimate gearhead car, unfortunately, does not exist and it never will.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t good, affordable vehicles out there which are fun to drive while ticking most of the boxes. And, this time, I actually followed the advice of someone else and couldn’t be happier.

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Here's Something We'll Never See As A Buick Verano

North Americans already get a “hot” version of the Vauxhall/Opel Astra it just happens to come with a Buick badge. Perhaps the Gods of the Ren Cen will smile on us and bring us a Verano GS using the Astra VXR’s 2.0L Ecotec engine. Because we sure won’t be getting the oil-burner.

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Opel To Pull Plug On Astra Production In Rsselsheim

After a lot of talk, GM is beginning to create facts at Opel: The production of Opel’s volume model, the Astra, will be moved from Rüsselsheim to Opel/Vauxhall sites in Ellesmere Port and Gliwice, Poland. This according to reports in Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which receives usually reliable information from Opel’s unions.

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What's Wrong With This Picture: Receding Hairline Edition
Are You Ready For: Buick Verano "GTI"?

The last time we watched a hotted-up Opel Astra GTC tear around the ‘ring, I reckoned

it’s fairly unlikely that [GM] would bring a 290 HP, limited-slip, six-speed hot hatch to the Buick brand any time soon. Or is it? The line for “Mr Euro”-style self-delusion forms here…

I’m still skeptical about a 290 HP version, but a 200-ish HP GTI-fighter is making more sense… especially after seeing mules of the Astra GTC at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds earlier this week. And GMauthority reports that

according to sources, the Astra has been green-lit to become a Buick. The name is unknown, but it’s possible that it will wear the Verano nameplate, with some sort of a specifying moniker.

The Verano sedan is tipped as a “comfort-first” model, but a sporty, premium hatch-coupe variant could help Buick drive its buyer age even lower. Especially now that Acura has let its Integra/RSX legacy wither on the vine. But then, it sounds like the Buick boys don’t need encouraging on this front…

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Is This Buick's Open-Top Future?

To be perfectly honest, we don’t know if the forthcoming Opel Astra CC (shown here in mule form) will be brought to the US and sold as a Buick, but it’s certainly been rumored. C&D says that, in addition to an Astra/Verano coupe, which it says will “definitely” be coming to the US,

Buick’s lineup could be graced with another Opel model that is currently under development. Replacing the folding-hardtop Astra Twin Top in Europe will be a new model that won’t be badged Astra, but will be based on the car’s Delta platform and remain close to the current model’s dimensions. The new convertible will keep its pronounced trunk and shed its clumsy hardtop in favor of a softtop, which should increase luggage space and make for a far cleaner look. Opel believes the softtop will create a more premium image.

The last Buick convertible? The 1990-91 Reatta convertible. But Buick’s probably hoping that nobody remembers those bad old days…

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Buick To Get An(other) Astra
What's Wrong With This Picture: Buick's Brand Integra-ty Edition
What's Wrong With This Picture: Baby Buick Apes Astra Edition
  • Inside Looking Out Why EBFlex dominates this EV discussion? Just because he is a Ford expert?
  • Marky S. Very nice article and photos. I am a HUGE Edsel fan. I have always been fascinated with the "Charlie Brown of Cars." Allow me to make a minor correction to add here: the Pacer line was the second-from-bottom rung Edsel, not the entry-level trim. That would be the Edsel Ranger for 1958. It had the widest array of body styles. The Ranger 2-door sedan (with a "B-pillar", not a pillarless hardtop), was priced at $2,484. So, the Ranger and Pacer both used the smaller Ford body. The next two upscale Edsel's were based on the Mercury body, are were: Corsair, and, top-line Citation. Although the 1959 style is my fav. I would love a '58 Edsel Pacer 4-door hardtop sedan!
  • Lou_BC Stupid to kill the 6ft box in the crewcab. That's the most common Canyon/Colorado trim I see. That kills the utility of a small truck. The extended cab was a poor seller so that makes sense. GM should have kept the diesel. It's a decent engine that mates well with the 6 speed. Fuel economy is impressive.
  • Lou_BC High end EV's are selling well. Car companies are taking advantage of that fact. I see quite a few $100k pickups in my travels so why is that ok but $100k EV's are bad? The cynical side of me sees car companies tack on 8k premiums to EV's around the time we see governments up EV credits. Coincidence? No fooking way.
  • EBFlex "I'd add to that right now, demand is higher than supply, so basic business rules say to raise the price."Demand is very low. Supply is even lower. Saying that demand is outstripping supply without providing context is dishonest at best.