One of the most anticipated releases from General Motors is the rebadged Opel Astra which will be sold in the United States as a Saturn. The Astra is part of General Motors' twinning project which pairs German automaker Opel with Saturn. The two brands are sharing platforms which cu down developmental costs. This plays a big role in General Motors' turnaround plan. This working relationship has resulted to the new Aura which is the reigning North American Car of the Year. The redesigned Saturn Vue is also the result of this working agreement. The rebadged Astra will be hitting showrooms around the country this fall. The pricing for the Saturn Astra was recently announced by the automaker. As a replacement to the underperforming Saturn Ion, the Astra will have a starting price below $16,000. There would be three trim levels available for consumers to choose from. The first one is the five-door XE trim. This variant will has a starting price of $15,995. The second variant is the five door XR trim level. This is the upscale version of the Astra and it will have a starting price of $17,545. The sporty variant of the Astra is the three-door XR trim. It will have a starting price of $18,495. The tree trim levels use the same engine. The powerplant for the 2008 Saturn Astra is a 1.8-liter direct overhead cam four-cylinder engine. The engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission. For those who want an automatic shifter, an optional four-speed automatic is offered. The automatic transmission will add $1,325 to the price of the car. According to the makers of the Astra, it will be offered with a Premium Trim Package. This will put an additional $795 to your tab if you opt for the five-door XR variant. On the three-door XR variant, the additional cost of the package amounts to $745. The package includes leather upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats with manual lumbar and premium door handles. An option available only for the five-door XR variant is the Sport Handling Package. The package will add features like 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, stability control, a lowered sport suspension and a quick ratio electrohydraulic power steering. This package costs $695. These features will make the five-door XR sportier although it might not have the same sportiness as the three-door XR even if they share a common Saturn wheel hub. For the three-door XR model, bigger 18-inch wheels and tires are given as options. Both XR models are also offered with the Advanced Audio Package. This package includes a six-disc CD-MP3 player, seven speakers, and seven-band equalizer. Adding this package to any of the XR models will increase the tab by $595. Available options for the three trim levels of the Astra are a dual panel sunroof, stability control, and cloth heated front seats. The sunroof will cost $1,000, the stability control alone fetches a price of $495 and the heated seats costs $250. According to Edmunds, the Saturn Astra is priced to compete with the Mazda3. Both are good looking cars although the Mazda3 may have an advantage as it is already an established nameplate.