General Motors Saturn division has announced the further details of the European designed and (initially) built 2008 Astra it is adding to its US model line-up.


Saturn will offer both three-door and five-door models with only detail changes from the cars that wear Opel and Vauxhall badges this side of the pond and Holden badging in Australia and New Zealand.


‘Federal’ bumpers, side marker lights, a new grille and Saturn badging appear to be the only obvious revisions to turn the Belgian-built GME model into a Saturn.


Staurn has chosen a 1.8-litre Ecotec four-cylinder engine (related to the 2.2-litre Ecotecs in some US-built GM models) from the Opel catalogue and it’s good for 140 horsepower (104 kW) and good fuel economy on the much lower octane petrol sold in the US (87-93 octane) compared with the 91-99-octane brews offered in Europe. A little detuning may be required.


The Astra will go on sale in the fourth quarter of this year and is the fifth new product in a complete revamp of Saturn’s US range.


It will be offered with two trim levels called XE and XR for five-door models, and a single XR trim in three-door form with a five-speed manual transmission as standard and optional four-speed automatic.


StabiliTrak electronic stability control system with traction control will be standard on three-door models but optional on five-door versions.


Standard equipment will include an auxiliary 12-volt power outlet, rear cargo cover, power door locks with central locking, power windows with express down feature, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD radio and  steering-wheel mounted audio controls for the XR models only.


Options will include a large, two-panel sunroof on the five-door only, heated seats in cloth or leather surfaces and seven-speaker sound system plus multi-disc and MP3-capable radios.


On the safety front, the standard specification will include six air bags, including dual-stage frontal air bags; roof rail head curtain air bags and thorax/pelvic air bags for front-seat passengers, active head restraints, collapsible pedals, front safety belt pretensioners and load limiters and the GM US OnStar telematics system with one year of ‘Safe & Sound’ service which includes automatic crash notification.


Turn by turn navigation will be optional with the OnStar system.