Chevrolet Cobalt SS

2008 Chevrolet Cobalt SS Coupe

2008 Chevrolet Cobalt SS Coupe (Photo: picareana.com)

You can be initially forgiven if you think we have lost our minds. A Chevy Cobalt on hi-mpg.org’s list of Hot Green Machines? It’s true. Although we will qualify this with a couple caveats: 1) we are not talking about the plain Jane Cobalt sedan, which looks as generic as a top-loading washing machine, and 2) we particular dig the turbocharged Cobalt SS, one of the performance bargains of the decade.

First, let’s talk about style. We’ve always considered the Cobalt coupe even in its rental car guise to be very attractive with its rakish, thin C-pillar and Corvette-inspired taillights. The overall look is elegant and sporty, devoid of garish plastic cladding that General Motors like to put on, say, Pontiacs for the most part of the 2000s.

The SS model builds on the base model’s attractive lines with lower front and rear fascias. While the tall rear wing might be a little overkill, it does add to the overall aggressiveness.

Then there’s the technology packed into the SS. It features a turbocharged 2.0-liter Ecotec engine with direct injection and variable valve timing, and puts out 260 hp and 260 ft-lbs of torque. These are world-beating numbers for this class of car. Yet, it still achieves 30 mpg on the highway!

Helping put the power to the ground is launch control (something usually featured only in high-end sports cars like the Nissan GTR) and suspension that was tuned on Germany’s famed Nürburgring. The stiff handling is some of the best the General has ever engineered into its front wheel drive vehicles.

Alas, the interiors of Cobalts are notoriously low grade, consisting of sub-par fit and finish, an expanse of low-grade plastics, and generic design. At least the SS model has leather seats with sporty two-tone color, vertical adjusting head restraints and driver-side lumbar and height adjusters. The instrument panel also features titanium-faced sport analog gauges with 160 mph speedometer and an A-pillar mounted turbo boost gauge.

Coupes for the 2009 model year also had a special Reconfigurable Performance Display (RPD) option. The RPD option replaced the boost gauge in the A-pillar and allowed driver manipulation of traction control, stability control, and Competition Mode. It also provided information regarding the engine power and torque, boost, air/fuel ratio, barometric pressure, temperature, battery voltage, and cornering g-forces.

Brand new in 2008, the SS Coupe started out at approximately $22,000—a price automotive journalists quickly dubbed “a Super Steal.” And now that they are only available used (and Cobalts typically have mediocre resale value) you can get one of these attractive Nürburgring-tuned coupes for much less than that.

Maybe now you are convinced we have not lost our minds!

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