You'll Like The 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt If...
You'll like the 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt SS if you want a quick, competent coupe that's free of the flamboyant styling often found in sporty small cars. Also, those concerned about fuel economy will appreciate the Cobalt SS's 30-mile-per-gallon EPA highway fuel economy rating.
You May Not Like The 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt If...
You may not like the 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt SS if you want a car that offers aggressive styling in addition to aggressive performance. The understated design of the Cobalt SS may strike some sport-compact buyers as too sedate.
Unlike the previous Cobalt SS with its supercharged engine, the new model utilizes a turbocharger, resulting in a 55-horsepower increase. The new model also includes no-lift gear shifts and a launch control system that lets the driver achieve repeatable zero-to-60-mph acceleration times under six seconds.
Like the exterior, the interior of the 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt SS is simple, functional and understated. The gray and black interior themes offer restrained styling, while a bright red-trimmed interior is available for those to want a flashier alternative. The interior of the Cobalt SS is distinguished from less sporty Cobalt trims by a unique gauge cluster, special gear shifter and a turbo-boost gauge mounted on the driver's side A-pillar. The Cobalt SS also features sport seats that do an excellent job of holding the driver and front passenger in place during spirited driving.
In the world of compact performance cars, big wings, non-functional vents and in-your-face styling are common. For those who prefer to maintain a lower profile, the Chevrolet Cobalt SS represents a welcome alternative. An SS-specific front fascia, lower body trim and rear wing add assertiveness to the shape of the normally tame Cobalt, without compromising its stealthy persona. Those wanting a flashier look can add a conspicuously tall rear wing that replaces the more subtle standard version.
With 260 horsepower on tap, it is not surprising that the 2008 Cobalt SS offers excellent acceleration and passing power. What is surprising is how well the engine performs during more mundane driving. Excellent low-rpm torque and a near-complete lack of turbo-lag make the Cobalt SS a joy to drive around town as well as in more spirited activities. Like many performance cars, the Cobalt SS delivers a firmer ride than less sporting Cobalt trims. However, the reduction in ride comfort is minor and more than acceptable when considering the dramatically improved handling limits and steering feel of the SS trim. The performance appeal of the no-lift shifting and launch control might overshadow the car's handling capabilities, but its precise, linear steering and an impressive level of cornering force make the Cobalt SS a fun and satisfying car to drive.
The Chevrolet Cobalt SS, with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $23,000, faces stiff competition from compact performance cars, including the slightly more expensive Volkswagen GTI, the similarly-priced Mazda MAZDASPEED3 and the Honda Civic Si, which is about $1,200 less. The Cobalt SS offers similar horsepower to the MAZDASPEED3, but substantially more than either the GTI or Civic SI. The price for a loaded Cobalt SS can exceed $25,000. To compare the actual transaction prices for the Chevrolet Cobalt SS, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price. The Cobalt SS is not expected to retain its value well over time, with residual values that should trail most of its key competitors.
Among the standard features offered on the 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt SS are a 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine, a five-speed manual transmission, 18-inch wheels, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, XM satellite radio, sport seats, a seven-speaker Pioneer audio system with rear subwoofer, fog lamps and air conditioning. The Cobalt SS also features the safety of standard front and side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and Stabilitrak stability and traction control. Also standard is GM's OnStar system that features roadside assistance, stolen vehicle location and automatic notification of the authorities in the event of an accident.
The list of optional equipment offered for the 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt SS is short and includes a power-operated sunroof, taller rear wing, metallic paint and a limited-slip differential. An upgraded audio system is also available and includes an auxiliary input, in-dash six-disc CD changer and speed-sensitive volume.
In a car capable of generating serious speed, the capabilities of the braking system become doubly important. Chevrolet has wisely equipped the Cobalt SS with powerful four-piston Brembo front brakes that, even after extensive lapping around a racetrack, stop with fade-free authority.
The Cobalt SS features a unique system that allows the driver to shift gears without lifting off the gas pedal. It may feel counter-intuitive to not lift off the gas pedal when shifting, but the no-lift feature works well, enabling super-quick shifts and maximum acceleration.
Under the Hood
Power for the Cobalt SS comes from a turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 260 horsepower. A five-speed manual is the only transmission offered for the Cobalt SS. While offering one less gear than many modern manual transmissions, the five-speed does a fine job keeping the engine in its powerband. The lack of a sixth gear also hasn't hurt fuel economy, as the SS manages an EPA highway rating of 30 mpg.
2.0-liter in-line four
260 horsepower at 5300 rpm
260 lb.-ft. of torque at 2000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/30
The compact performance category came to prominence in the mid-1990s, and since that time the most popular entries have tended to come from import brands. American manufacturers have had limited success unseating reigning compact kings, which include the Honda Civic Si, Volkswagen GTI and Mazda MAZDASPEED3. For the 2008 model year, the Cobalt SS has received a thorough reworking that delivers impressive horsepower numbers and commendably high levels of handling and braking. The result is a fun and fast compact sports car that, if given the chance, might just win over some import fans.