All-new in 2005, the Chevrolet Cobalt’s big news is the addition of the SS coupe and sedan to the line-up. Powered by a 2.4-litre inline four-cylinder with variable valve timing, the 171 hp SS fits in between the regular Cobalt coupe and sedan, and the SS Supercharged coupe (which lengthens its name for 2006, to differentiate it).

A new top-line LTZ sedan changes the Cobalt’s lineup from 2005; the base model is now the LS, while the LT is the mid-range trim line. There are also two new exterior colours, Majestic Amethyst and Laser Blue.

The Cobalt is based on GM’s Delta platform, also used by the Saturn Ion and overseas Opel models, as well as the Cobalt’s sister Pontiac Pursuit, built strictly for the Canadian market. The Cobalt also forms the basis of the new-for-2006 Chevrolet HHR.

The Cobalt’s LS, LT and LTZ sedan share a 2.2-litre Ecotec inline four-cylinder. The SS uses the 2.4-litre, while the SS Supercharged coupe carries a 2.0-litre Ecotec with supercharger. All come with a five-speed manual transmission that can be optioned up to a four-speed automatic in everything but the SS Supercharger, which uses a manual gearbox exclusively.

Cobalt standard and optional features include intermittent wipers, rear defogger, tilt wheel, 60/40 folding rear seat, CD player, air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, power locks with keyless entry, power mirrors and windows, cruise control and heated seats.

The new SS coupe and sedan feature 17-inch alloy wheels with performance tires, performance-tuned suspension, four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel ABS, and SS-specific badging and appointments.

The Cobalt is less expensive than its Pontiac Pursuit sibling, which is not available with a supercharged option. Like the Cavalier it replaced, the Cobalt is good, solid transportation for the price, although its interior trim materials and fit aren’t always up to the standards set by its Japanese competitors. The SS Supercharged model is a blast for the price, offering excellent acceleration and great handling, and something so often missing these days: it’s a hec of a lot of fun to drive.

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