Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Jim Kerr
Discuss this story in the forum at CarTalkCanada
Find this vehicle in Autos’s Classified Ads
Tall wings, large-diameter wheels and ground effects body panels are the automotive styling choices of the tuner crowd. Most of these are bolted to stock vehicles to enhance their image and complement the high-performance engine and suspension work usually done by the owner. The Cobalt SS Supercharged fits right in with this class, but with one major exception: the factory has done all the work up front, so all you have to do is drive and enjoy.
Everywhere I drove the Cobalt SS Supercharged, it drew appreciative comments from spectators. It may have been the Rally Yellow monochrome paint scheme highlighted by the smoky-grey, five-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels, but more likely it was the tall rear spoiler, front air dam and side body skirts that gave the car such an attractive look. The SS looks sporty and fast even when sitting in the parking lot, which is where a lot of these cars are shown off.
Inside, the car has been jazzed up too. Titanium-faced sports gauges and leather seats with the SS logo embroidered on the back look sharp. A boost gauge on the driver’s A-pillar hints of something different. Typical of sports coupes, front seat room is great and back seat room is only for the vertically-challenged. The trunk opening is small, making it difficult to load a cooler, but there is good cargo room inside.
Even cars that look good soon fall out of favour with the in-crowd unless they have something special. In the Cobalt’s case, it is the intercooled, supercharged 2.0-litre engine. GM Performance had a hand in developing this potent little powerplant. It puts out 205 horsepower, and that makes the car a lot of fun to drive. Even better, the supercharger keeps the cylinders full even at low rpm, so the torque band is very broad and strong. The car is as happy idling along in fourth gear as it is near redline in second.
Photo: Jim Kerr. Click image to enlarge
Besides, it comes with those little chrome “SS Supercharged” emblems on the doors and trunk, so everyone else knows what you have, too.
Befitting a true high-performance sports coupe, only a manual gearbox is offered, a beefed-up version of the five-speed used in other Cobalt models. A short-throw shifter does make it feel sportier. At first I thought a six-speed would be better, but the engine’s broad torque band makes any extra gears unnecessary. Power is put to the ground through a 4.05:1 axle ratio (limited slip is optional) and P215/45ZR18 performance tires. In some real-world track testing on cold pavement, I was able to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in less than seven seconds. I expect good traction would decrease this time significantly.
Handling matches the car’s power. The SS Supercharged comes with an FE5 suspension package, developed on the racetrack to deliver sports car handling and grip. Higher-rate springs, specially-tuned shocks and bigger sway bars make this car a stable performer on a twisty road. Body roll is minimal, the cornering line is predictable and the car feels secure to drive. At the same time, ride comfort is good for a performance car. It is a little harsher than a regular Cobalt, but much of that could be attributed to the low-profile tires. Both the Cobalt SS and the SS Supercharged models get quicker steering gear ratios, so the steering feel is tuned more for performance too.
To complement the performance package, there are four-wheel disc brakes with ABS. Even when braking hard into a corner on the racetrack, the car remained stable and in control as the ABS cut in to reduce wheel slip.
Test vehicle not exactly as shown. Click image to enlarge
The SS Supercharged Cobalt commands a $3,000 premium over the straight SS Cobalt and nearly $10,000 more than a base Cobalt. That sounds like a lot of money, but start pricing out performance parts and the Supercharged model starts to look like a bargain compared to modifying a base car. In most cases, you would end up with a better package than doing it yourself, along with a factory warranty. Good looks, excellent performance, and great parking lot appeal. That’s what this Cobalt is all about.
Technical Data: 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt SS Supercharged
|Price as tested||$26,340 Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives|
|Type||2-door, 5-passenger compact coupe|
|Engine||2.0-litre 4, OHV, 16 valves, supercharged|
|Horsepower||205 @ 5600 rpm|
|Torque||200 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm|
|Tires||P215/45ZR18 performance, W-rated|
|Curb weight||1327 kg (2925 lbs)|
|Wheelbase||2624 mm (103.3 in.)|
|Length||4580 mm (180.3 in.)|
|Width||1725 mm (67.9 in.)|
|Height||1415 mm (55.7 in.)|
|Cargo capacity||394 litres (13.9 cu. ft.)|
|Fuel consumption||City: 10.1 L/100 km (28 mpg Imp)|
|7.3 L/100 km (39 mpg Imp)|
|Fuel type||Premium recommended but not required|
|Warranty||3 yrs/ 60,000 km|
|Powertrain warranty||5 yrs/100,000 km|