by Nelson Ireson
Americans don’t like hatchbacks. It’s almost inexplicable, but it’s true. Sedans are the American body style of choice, perhaps because of the more coupe-like lines, and despite their dearth of cargo space. But with the ongoing fuel crunch and a faltering economy, affordable, roomy and practical hatchbacks are beginning to get the respect and admiration European and Japanese buyers have shown for decades.
Saturn’s Astra hatchback is one of the first General Motors imports to take advantage of these changing preferences, borrowed from its Opel lineup in Europe. Under the motto, “Rethink American” and with a barrage of television commercials geared to show the buying public that Saturn’s cars are stylish, modern and not at all the pokey plastic machines of a decade ago, GM’s newest division is working to rebuild its image for the future. Is the Astra up to the task of changing minds and winning hearts?