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.

What's New

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.

Interior Features

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.

Exterior Features

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.

Driving Impressions

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.

Pricing Notes

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.

Notable Equipment

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.

Notable Options

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.

Favorite Features

Brembo Brakes

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.

No-lift Upshifts

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

Editors' Notes

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.

Road Test Video Reviews

2008 Chevrolet Cobalt Owner Reviews

320 Reviews
28% 42% 24% 5% 1%
Leave your review Would you recommend this vehicle?
(Select your rating)

Very reliable, but interior flimsiness is unfortunate

2008 Chevrolet Cobalt

The best thing I can say about my Chevy Cobalt is that it has been reliable. In the 10 years we've owned it, we have never had to make major repairs that were not normal wear and tear. EVen when we did have to make repairs, the parts in question had far exceeded their expected life. As an example, we recently replaced the front struts. These had an expected life of 50,000 miles; ours lasted nearly 150,000 miles. Considering that our vehicle spends 100% of its time driving over permafrost and pothole-ridden roads, this says a lot for the original equipment of the car. That being said, I do wish that some of the interior amenities had proved as long-lasting as the mechanical features. Despite taking a great deal of care of our vehicle, the foil has been peeling off of the handles for several years. The covers on the vanity mirrors broke off long ago, and the floor mats proved to be anything but sturdy (there is a three-inch-wide hole worn into the one of the driver's side).

- Jamie H

Tiny car that is reliable.

2008 Chevrolet Cobalt LT

My car is a 2 door, which makes it almost impossible to drive a group of people. I usually friend with friends if we're driving as a group somewhere. However, my car has been very reliable. I haven't had a lot of mechanical issues. One time the a/c went out because a coil burned up and I have had tires go flat (which is going to happen no matter what car you drive). I make sure to keep up on oil changes, which I believe has helped extend the life of my vehicle. It is a small car, which is good for fitting into tight parking spaces but bad for looking directly below you. The gas mileage is also pretty great. I do not remember what I get a gallon, but I can go quite a while before adding more gas.

- Kris H

2008 Chevy Cobalt LT coupe

2008 Chevrolet Cobalt LT

It was great for a first vehicle. The mileage is excellent; I can easily make a tank of gas last around 2 weeks only costing about $25 to fill up. It is compact which can make hauling things a hassle, but the trunk is very spacious. Getting into the backseat is difficult for larger people/item like car seats. I've had this car for 11 years and never had a serious mechanical problem. The speakers did go out last year, but considering how much I use them it was expected. This car picks up speed fast and easily maneuvered through traffic or just downtown parking scrunch. Overall performance, it's met all my needs and has been reliable for years and still doesn't have any signs of break down.

- Nikki P

Leave your review