Chevrolet Cobalt SS - East Valley Tribune: Business

Chevrolet Cobalt SS

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Posted: Saturday, November 8, 2008 7:16 am | Updated: 9:42 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Cool compacts with a little SSomething extra under the hood and a little more SStyle inside and out are all about the SSizzle. In this case, Super Sport SSizzle.

Cool compacts with a little SSomething extra under the hood and a little more SStyle inside and out are all about the SSizzle. In this case, Super Sport SSizzle.

Most compact cars are commonly viewed as utilitarian transportation modules that emphasize affordability and fuel savings. But among this group of timid pussycats are a few roaring tigers that are impressive to look at and are fast on their feet when the need arises.

The Chevrolet Cobalt SS coupe and sedan and HHR SS define the latter group. Originally developed by General Motors Performance Division (GMPD), both are based on their respective (and more sedate) base models and have been fortified with appearance and performance upgrades that significantly alter the way they look and drive.

The current generation of compact SS (Super Sport) models was introduced part way into the 2008 model year using turbocharged rather than the supercharged engines found in previous models. For 2009, Chevrolet has seen fit to expand the line to encompass the Cobalt’s four-door sedan as well as the panel van variant of the HHR.

The SS models have been fitted with distinctive mesh-style grilles and body work although the HHR wagon’s front features a more prominent bumper that’s positioned well forward of the hood and headlights. Extra side skirting and a rear spoiler is also part of the package along with a set of 18-inch forged aluminum wheels, two inches larger than those used on base Cobalt and HHR.

Inside are SS-badged sport seats with simulated suede inserts and a revamped analog cluster with a turbo boost gauge. An optional built-in dash screen can display zero-to-60-mph and quarter-mile times, braking performance and the amount of lateral cornering grip being generated.

Common to these SS-designated Chevy models is a suspension package with a wide assortment of upgrades such as beefy stabilizer bars, stiffer springs and specially tuned shocks. Also fitted are Brembo-brand front brakes built to complement the added firepower. The changes are most noticeable in a slightly lowered and more aggressive stance that looks good and aids cornering agility (close to 1.0 g in the Cobalt’s case).

GM’s Bowtie division also claims that the SS suspension all but eliminates that annoying tendency for front-wheel-drive cars to pull to one side under hard acceleration, a condition commonly referred to as torque steer. Speaking of power, the heart and soul of these spirited machines is a turbocharged 260-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Directing a healthy 250 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels is the job of a five-speed manual transmission controlled by a short-throw shifter for quicker gear changes. In the case of the HHR there’s an available four-speed automatic, but that drops the engine ratings to 250 horsepower and 223 pound-feet of torque.

According to Chevrolet, the Cobalt SS can reach 60 mph from a standing start in 5.7 seconds, while the HHR SS, which is heavier, needs 6.3 seconds.

As with many performance vehicles from a variety of manufacturers, the SS Chevys have undergone rigorous testing at Germany’s brutally tough Nürburgring racing circuit where the Cobalt version set a class record for the quickest lap time.

As a classy and compact vehicles, the SS models come with air conditioning, cruise control, fog lights, a variety of power-operated accessories and a seven-speaker audio system. Of course there’s an arms-length list of available features such as a power sunroof, upgraded audio package and a highly recommended limited-slip differential.

The HHR SS and Cobalt SS are tempting packages that take a thrifty approach to the business of having fun. Both provide the right kind of equipment enthusiasts look for in a sporty set of wheels and they look sharp to boot. Whether it’s the coupe, sedan, wagon or van style that suits your fancy, a Super Sport in your driveway practically guarantees more “SS-izzle” in your life.

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