Advance auto zone blog about fast cars and auto trader

Advance auto zone blog about cool fast cars, and auto trader

2008 Saturn Astra XR Three-Door - full test.

Everything you need to learn about the character of the 2008 Saturn Astra XR can be found in its key fob. The switchblade style favored by VW lets you know that Saturn is thinking GTI here. Of course, there are consequences for thinking in German, as you can tell by the key fob's cryptographic buttonry. There are two slash marks in parallel on one side of the face, two slash marks at approximately 45-degree angles to each other, and you're supposed to figure out that one button locks the doors and the other unlocks them. And then there's the clock, which reads only in military-style 24-hour time.

2008 Saturn Astra XR2008 Saturn Astra XR-22008 Saturn Astra XR-3Lots of Growl, Not Much Bite
This 1.8-liter version of the Ecotec inline-4 seems a little low-tech with its iron block, yet its weight is comparable to that of an aluminum-block engine (so Saturn claims) and it features variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts. But it all adds up to no more than 138 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 125 pound-feet of torque at 3,800 rpm, which is not exactly the sporting power we were hoping for.

The overall propulsion is pretty good, and the engine has a wide, generous power band, but it's always growling and grows coarse as you approach redline. There's not much snap to this engine, and when you rev it to the power peak, you bounce right off the rev limiter at redline, which lies only a few rpm higher at 6,500 rpm.

As in most German cars, the shift action of this five-speed manual combines long, light-effort throws with strong but notchy gear engagement. It's not as intuitive to find the path between gears as we'd like and the 2-3 shift in particular requires the accuracy of a Golden Gloves jab and can't be rushed. At the test track, the slightly heavy 2,814-pound Astra XR plods to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds and then crosses the 1,320-foot mark in 16.8 seconds at 82.5 mph. (This happened in 3rd gear instead of 4th, a rare occurrence among cars like this.)

Hot or Not?
The 2008 Saturn Astra XR's racy good looks are both its best feature and its biggest source of disappointment. It looks hot. But it's not just hot; it's hot in that hot hatch way that screams "Small car, big fun!" Unfortunately, the XR just can't quite cash the check its appearance writes, as the engine and transmission seem to be on a mission to deliver only the thrifty 25.2 mpg we observed despite our best efforts.

For all that, this is a fun car to drive, but it's not sharp enough to make you overlook the Mini Cooper and the Volkswagen GTI. Then again, this Astra XR's bottom line at $20,330 makes it look a lot more interesting.We're waiting for the Astra Red Line that has to be waiting in the wings. If the Holden Astra VXR is any indication, it should be great.

© Source: edmunds
We need your comments below >>

Labels: , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Add To Favorites