In those days when cars were big and gas was cheap, Chevrolet created a new package to move the metal - the SS (short for “Super Sport”) and it was in the good old days a label reserved for the brand’s most wicked performance cars. However, recently, Chevrolet has set SS badges on some real pretenders like the latest Impala SS and Monte Carlo SS. Now Chevy wants us to believe the new 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt SS Supercharged is the actual thing, a hot-wheeled competitive performance coupe with enough muscle to take on the Acura RSX Type-S and DodgeSRT-4. Funny is that they might just be right.
Cobalt is the newest compact Chevy and it is not just a re-skinned Cavalier. It’s a totally new car, built on GM’s worldwide “Delta’’ platform. 6 models make the Cobalt lineup, base and LS versions are of both body styles, LT is a premium-appointed sedan, and the SS is coupe only.
But none of those Cobalt varieties illustrate this better than the SS Supercharged coupe (or the SSSC), a fitting addition to Chevy’s “SS’’ high-performance line. The Cobalt SS is not a pretender with tuned-like exterior styling hiding mundane mechanical bits and offering low levels of performance. It is the actual thing, with 205 supercharged bhp under the hood, a fine-tuned suspension, and a degree of handling refinement not expected from an American entry in this class.
The Cobalt SS SC was creates to appeal to the tuning enthusiast and engineered from the very beginning to be an exciting driver’s high performance sport coupe – straight from the factory.
The Supercharged SS comes in standard with an unique, aggressive rear wing and will is offered in five exterior body colors including Rally Yellow, Black, Orange Metallic, Victory Red and Arrival Blue Metallic.
When you think about front-wheel drive performance subcompact you generally look to Japan for inspiration. In the SS SC price range there are to be considered the Subaru Impreza WRX, Nissan Sentra SE-R, Scion tC, Honda Civic Si and the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart. Also European Mini Cooper S is also in the Cobalt’s gang. US manufacturers offer the Dodge Neon SRT-4 and the Ford Focus ZX3 SES .
But where does the Cobalt SS slot in with all this competition!? It can be considered a matter of taste and suitability. If you are charmed by the restrained styling, spirited performance and sporty ride of the Cobalt SS SC you may be able to overlook the tight rear seats, odd trunk and harsh suspension. Things to like in the SS SC are the supercharger and the cool boost gauge.
Chevrolet is trying to unify the look of its cars and the Cobalt SS comes under this trend. The main design consists of rounded corners and edges with angular accents, and is well-illustrated in the Cobalt range. The SS has a sporty fastback shape, but is not a hatchback. It is much sleeker than the sedan, and has a raised rear for a sporty wedge profile. The front with the contemporary Chevrolet grille is completed with bowtie logo sits between large, bright faired headlights and underneath a sculpted hood. A strong shoulder line and moderate fender flares define the sides and the rear features Corvette-inspired taillights. The SS SC ads some nerve & muscle with a flat air-dam front bumper including projector-beam fog-lamps and an auxiliary intake for the intercooler, side sill extensions, a faux diffuser and oversized exhaust tip at the rear. On top of that is the obligatory oversized rear wing, which, as usual, blocks most of the rear view.
The Cobalt’s rigid lower-dominant body structure was engineered as a single unit for mass efficiency and stiffness. Its underbody is made of high-strength steel as welded members in strategic locations for maximum strength, structural integrity, mass optimization and crashworthiness.
The Chevy Cobalt SS SC equips a race-inspired ECOTEC 121.9 cui supercharged four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission. The SS SC is benefiting from Chevy’s racing successful ECOTEC -powered cars competing in the NHRA Summit Sport Compact Racing Series.
The Ecotec 121.9 cui SC four-cylinder engine delivers 205 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 200 lb.-ft. of torque at 4400 rpm. Compared to the Ecotec 134 cui I-4, the cam timing was altered sin order to raise the mid-range torque and to match it with the top-end power.
The engine was fitted with an Eaton M-62 helical roots-type supercharger and an air-to-water intercooler to reduce the temperature of air entering the engine. The supercharger can produce a maximum boost pressure of 12 pounds per square inch (psi).
The all–aluminum DOHC, four–cylinder engine was built off the strengths of the original, naturally aspirated 134 cui ECOTEC engine.
The supercharger is designed to spins at a low rpm for improved durability and low noise while allowing for a lot of top–end power. Power delivery of the supercharged engine is instantaneous.
Additional features of the engine are:
Direct–mount oil cooler
Oil-jet piston cooling
Large oil sump
Enhanced heavy–duty pistons
Strong connecting rods
Sodium–filled exhaust valves for improved durability
High–strength aluminum cylinder head
The 2.0L SC ECOTEC was mated to a five-speed manual transmission. The 10” clutch assembly is also larger than the one from the naturally aspirated Ecotecs. The five-speed gearbox has close-ratio gearing specially tailored for the power band of the supercharged engine. For improved acceleration the final drive ratio was also shortened at 4.05:1. A short-throw shifter was fit to quicken the shifts and provide a more positive feel. The shifter’s travels approximately one inch less than the one found in standard Cobalt models.
Engine Aluminum Ecotec Inline-4
Valvetrain OHC, 4 Valves per Cyl
Fuel feed Sequential Multi-Port Injection
Displacement 121.9 cu in
Bore 3.39 in
Stroke 3.39 in
Power 205.0 bhp @ 5600 rpm
Hp per litre 102.6 bhp per litre
Bhp/weight 161.04 bhp per weight
Torque 200 ft lbs @ 4400 rpm
Drive wheels FWD
Body / frame Unit Steel
Front brakes Vented Discs, ABS, 11.6 in
Rear brakes Solid Discs, ABS, 10.6 in
Front tire size P215/45R-18
Rear tire size P215/45R-18
Steering Tuned Rack & Pinion, Power Asssist
Front suspension MacPherson Struts, Stabilizer Bar
Cobalt’s SS SC suspension was tuned on Germany’s famous Nürburgring, one of the world’s most challenging road courses with more than 170 turns in nearly 13 miles.
It features a strut-type Mac Pherson front suspension and semi-independent torsion beam at the rear and increased diameter front and rear stabilizer bars with tuned bushings. Further the chassis and springs were also stiffened and the spring rates and damping bound/rebound were specially tuned along with the shock strut valving setting for a responsive, sport suspension feel. The mono-tube rear shocks with 1.3 in. pistons were also enlarged in diameter. The coupe’s ride height also has been reduced by 0.4 in. The rack and pinion electric power steering also got tuned for increased driver feedback.
The SS Supercharged is equipped with four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. The front rotors are 11.6 inches in diameter (approximately 1 inch larger than the rotors on standard Cobalt models). The rear drum brakes (standard in other Cobalt models) were replaced with 10.6-inch rotors disc brakes. Rear brakes are mounted on an all-new rear axle assembly that incorporates revised suspension geometry.
The SS Supercharged also features larger, five-bolt wheel hubs, larger brake calipers and larger brake pads. The late allow for greater braking capacity and are proven performance parts found in other high-performance GM vehicles.
The SS Supercharged Cobalt boasts the segment’s leading wheel size with 18-inch forged-steel alloy wheels and Pirelli P215/45R18 Z-rated performance tires.
The cockpit was also modified in comparison to standard models and in order to complement the performance characteristics of the Cobalt SS Supercharged Coupe. The accelerator pedal got redesigned in order to enable heel-and-toe driving and to improve driver feedback and response. The dash features titanium-faced speedometer, tachometer and gauges in the instrument cluster, and an boost gauge to monitor supercharger performance mounted in the A pillar.
The interior main colors are ebony with satin nickel accents on the instrument panel, shifter base and doors. The front seats are covered in leather and include color-keyed perforated inserts, manual lumbar adjuster on the driver-side, adjustable head restraint, and also passenger-side seatback map pocket. A 60/40 split-bench rear seat with color-keyed inserts and a trunk pass-through comes to improve functionality.
The list of standard features is quite extensive and includes air conditioning, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, tilt steering wheel with mounted audio and cruise controls, electric rear defogger, CD player with MP3 playback, seven-speaker Pioneer premium sound system and driver information center. Optional features include side head curtain air bags, power sunroof and XM Satellite Radio
GM vehicles registered in the U.S.A. are covered for 3 years or 36,000 miles. This is covers the complete vehicle, including tires, towing to the nearest Chevrolet dealership, and cosmetic corrosion resulting from defects. Chevy is due to make repairs to correct any vehicle defect, and most warranty repairs will be made at no charge. In addition, rust-through corrosion is covered for 6 years or 100,000 miles.
Chevrolet vehicles and their components are assembled or produced by different operating units of General Motors, its subsidiaries, or suppliers to GM worldwide. Sometimes it is necessary to produce Chevrolet vehicles with different or differently sourced components than originally scheduled. Since some options may be unavailable when your vehicle is assembled it is recommended that you verify that your vehicle includes the equipment you ordered and that, if there were changes, they are acceptable to you.
Chevrolet products are equipped with engines produced by GM Powertrain or other suppliers to GM worldwide. The engines in Chevrolet products may also be used in other GM makes and models.
If turned heads on the freeway are a guide, the Cobalt SS may be one of the best lures yet to offered to young drivers by Chevrolet. Unfortunately, the Cobalt SS Supercharged Coupe does not measure up very well against its competitors. When compared with cars like the Acura RSX Type S and the Subaru WRX, the “SS” badge seems to lose some of its luster. Today’s extended offer of sporty compacts offer more power and better build quality and in that arena the Cobalt SS SC comes as fun-to-drive but otherwise disappointing. But beyond comparison, there’s no arguing that the Cobalt SS SC is the best Chevy compact to come along in decades. Thanks to the temperamental supercharged engine and the sleek and youth appealing new look, the new Cobalt can wear its “SS” badges with pride.