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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What's Wrong With This Picture: Receding Hairline Edition
Panoramic windscreens are something of a building trend in Europe’s premium-ish small car segments, combining the benefits of a sunroof with improved visibility. GM debuted the concept as a rarely-chosen option on the previous-generation Astra three-door, and it’s coming back with the forthcoming Astra GTC. Which raises an interesting question: since I’m convinced the GTC will come to the US as a Buick coupe, will this funky look come across the pond as well? Bob Lutz emphasized his preference for “glowering” low rooflines, telling TTAC that an early version of the forthcoming Cadillac ATS looked like “a kid with too large of a forehead” before he told designers to bring down the browline. Will an exception be made for this unique (to the US Market) feature on what should be one of GM’s most purely European cars? Or will Lutz’s aesthetic tastes doom GM buyers to observing traffic lights out of their side windows? Is this an option that other automakers should consider making available?
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…
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…
Buick To Get An(other) Astra
Fresh on the heels of today’s release of Opel Zafira pictures, Buick has confirmed to Automotive News [sub] that rumors of a rebadged Opel Astra for the US market are indeed real. But wait, you say, isn’t the Buick Verano just an Astra sedan? Perhaps… but since there’s no Astra sedan to rebadge, that leaves only three choices for this future Buick Astra: the five-door hatch, the three-door coupe-hatch or the “Touring” wagon. C&D would like to see a 300 HP Buick Hot Hatch to come in the form of the Astra GTC OPC, although we’re skeptical that Buick will offer 300 HP in a car smaller than its “detuned image changer,” the Regal GS. If the Meriva represents the “Baby Enclave,” it’s possible there’s room for a C-Segment wagon, but the rumors insist that younger buyers are the target for this US-market Astra. So, chromed-out five door? Detuned “ Skyhawk” GTC coupe? Gentlemen, start your speculation…