Read David Yochum's comments on driving the 2008 Saturn Astra 3-Door
I've heard all the warnings about the Astra's European interior labels, the weird center door-unlock button, and the extremely weak engine. But you know what? It also comes with its own cachet.
Stepping into the two-door Astra feels like an entirely new GM experience (which it is). Forget Chevy Cobalts and Pontiac/Toyota Vibes, everything you touch is of solid, German build quality. Push and pull the door handle - nothing moves. Press on the center stack - not a sound. I ran this thing through potholes all weekend and not a SINGLE peep of a rattle. Yes, the controls can take some getting used to, but I actually appreciated having to learn something different in a car. It keeps you fresh, and gives you a different perspective.
A few things did trouble me - one being the car's power. It could definitely use the turbo from Europe. My 0-60 times were always a little over 10 seconds. Blind spot visibility is incredibly poor. Finally, it took a little extra effort to reach the seat belt, which is tucked back on the B-pillar, and I'd also appreciate a center armrest.
If this car came with a turbo for $21,000, it would be a serious sport compact competitor.