The Cobalt SS is at home on the boulevard or starting grid, thanks to development at Germany’s famed Nürburgring racing circuit – a winding, undulated road course of approximately 14 miles in length (22 km) and with more than 170 turns. It is considered by many professional racers and auto manufacturers as the ultimate test of a car’s mettle.
In fact, the Cobalt SS set a lap record for front-drive sport-compact cars at the “’Ring,” posting a time of 8:22.85 minutes – besting the previous record by more than 13 seconds.
“The Cobalt SS delivers an integrated driving experience that balances a strong, satisfying feeling of acceleration with a precise, responsive chassis,” said John Heinricy, GM Performance Division executive. “It has been tuned to deliver confident handling and road manners, and drivers should find it very predictable in the corners of any racetrack.”
GM Performance Division (GMPD) is responsible for the “go, stop and turn” capability of Chevrolet’s high-performance SS models, and its team of enthusiastic engineers made sure that the new, 2008 Cobalt SS not only achieved stellar performance on the track, it delivered it with a grin-inducing level of driving satisfaction.
Specific performance features include:
FE5 sport suspension
Standard F35 five-speed manual transmission with short-throw shifter
Brembo fixed-caliper front disc brakes
Vented rear disc brakes
Eighteen-inch wheels and performance tires
Driver Information Center “Competitive” mode with launch control function
Available limited-slip differential
Conveying the Cobalt SS’s turbocharged horsepower to the pavement is an FE5 sport suspension that includes a host of other chassis, steering and braking revisions – and a set of gorgeous, 18-inch forged aluminum wheels. The elements pull together to give the vehicle surprisingly agile ride and handling characteristics, as well as an enviable maximum lateral acceleration rate of 0.9 g – making it the best-handling car in the segment.
“There was a concerted effort to tune the Cobalt SS for competitive track performance,” said Heinricy. “This makes the car not only formidable in sanctioned competition, but it puts a finer edge on street performance.”
The MacPherson strut independent front suspension uses SS-specific gas-charged twin-tube struts; unique steering knuckles with optimized geometry; 27 N/mm linear coil springs with specific damper tuning; stiffer control arm handling and stabilizer bar bushings; and a direct-acting, 24-mm solid stabilizer bar. At the rear, the SS’s semi-trailing twist beam axle uses monotube gas-charged shocks with specific damper tuning, a 24-mm solid stabilizer bar, stiffer axle bushings and multi-rate coil springs (28-40 N/mm). StabiliTrak electronic stability control and traction control are standard.
More than cornering capability, the Cobalt SS’s chassis – along with the available limited-slip differential – also is tuned to mitigate conditions often associated with high-performance front-wheel-drive vehicles, such as torque steer and axle hop. The result is a smooth application of the car’s full performance potential, for quicker acceleration, which should lead to faster lap times for experienced drivers.
An improved electric power steering (EPS) system is tuned to match the SS’s handling prowess. The rack-and-pinion gear has a quick 14.8:1 ratio, which is 10-percent quicker than other Cobalt models, and the new EPS provides improved precision and a more viscous feel.
Brembo fixed-caliper brakes
Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS are standard. They consist of large, 12.4-inch-diameter (315 mm) Brembo front vented rotors with premium, high-performance, four-piston fixed calipers in the front and 11.5-inch-diameter (292 mm) rear vented discs with single-piston calipers.
During spirited drives, this gives the Cobalt SS a more precise and consistent braking feel that resists fading, even after repeated occurrences of hard braking, such as the driving experience on a racetrack.
The Brembo calipers are visible behind one of the Cobalt SS’s most distinguishing features: a set of 18- x 7.5-inch forged aluminum wheels. The wheels ride on SS-specific 225/40-series Y-rated summer tires.
The standard anti-lock brakes are connected to the StabiliTrak electronic stability control system to enhance stopping and handling in emergency and performance driving situations.
Maximum performance – on the street or track
The Cobalt SS was developed by GM Performance Division (GMPD), with a team of engineers and designers dedicated to crafting high-performance vehicles. It features powertrain and chassis enhancements that are similar to the new HHR SS, but with larger Brembo brakes, a slightly “taller” final-drive ratio and specific details that emphasize the Cobalt SS’s pure performance ethic. Details such as more aggressive chassis tuning, Continental performance summer tires, standard Brembo front brakes and larger rear vented disc brakes help maximize its competitiveness on the track.
Engineered to offer more than merely a turbocharged rush of power, an all-new FE5 Sport suspension was developed. It includes specific stabilizer bars, spring rates and damper tuning – all designed to complement the high-output turbocharged powertrain and mitigate afflictions such as torque steer. Driver-selectable modes help maximize performance whether on the street or track. The unique “no-lift shift” feature enables the Cobalt SS to achieve the best acceleration time via an algorithm in the engine controller.
Ensuring the car stops as confidently as it accelerates and corners are four-wheel disc brakes with standard ABS. The front brakes are from Brembo and have a performance-oriented fixed-caliper design, which resist fade better than floating caliper designs; the rear discs are vented for better heat dissipation. Along with these high-performance attributes, the Cobalt SS is equipped with a host of standard safety features, including the StabiliTrak electronic stability control system and side-impact air bags.
With its balanced tuning, the Cobalt SS delivers a quick 0-60 time of approximately 5.7 seconds – thanks to the manual transmission’s “no-lift shift” feature – and an impressive maximum lateral grip of 0.9 g. This combination enabled the Cobalt SS to set a new class record when running the famed Nürburgring racing circuit, posting a time of 8:22.85 minutes.
Every driver’s element – from the highly bolstered seats to the A-pillar-mounted boost gauge – is designed to match the performance capability delivered by the 2008 Cobalt SS’s 260-horsepower (194 kW) turbocharged engine and FE5 sport suspension deliver. In short, the cabin delivers maximum functionality and driver satisfaction.
The features that make up the Cobalt SS’s driver-focused interior include:
Sport seats: The Cobalt SS’s seats don’t just look sporty; modified seatback bolsters and “winged” bottom-cushion bolsters provide excellent support during spirited driving. The seat features contemporary, mesh-style impression cloth coverings with suede-like UltraLux inserts in the center section for additional grip. “SS” logos are embroidered on the front seats.
Contrasting interior colors, including Ebony, Victory Red and Light Gray, contribute to the sporty look and are offered in SS-only combinations. Color-matched door panel inserts complete the theme. The rear seat is trimmed to match the front seats and features enhanced bolster styling to also match the front seats.
Shifter: Compared with other Cobalt models equipped with a manual transmission, the SS features a shifter that has shorter throws between gears and a more precise feel.
No-lift shift: An algorithm in the engine’s controller allows upshifts to be performed very quickly without lifting the throttle.
Steering: The Cobalt SS has a quicker-acting, more precise steering system consisting of a modified steering knuckle and a new steering gear (14.8:1 ratio).
160-mph speedometer: A unique instrument panel gauge cluster is standard; it includes a 160-mph readout (255 km/h) illustrated with large, easy-to-view graphics.
A-pillar gauge: In what is now a signature feature of Chevy models with the turbocharged 2.0L Ecotec, the Cobalt SS comes with a standard A-pillar-mounted turbo boost gauge.
Driver Information Center: The standard Driver Information Center located in the gauge cluster allows the driver to display vehicle performance data, such as tire pressure, fuel economy and several SS-specific features, including a “Competitive” mode. The Competitive mode is designed for closed-course performance driving and adjusts chassis controls (including turning off traction control) in controlled driving conditions. A launch control function is part of the Competitive mode and enables consistent acceleration performance.
Additional changes: SS-specific satin nickel trim accents the cabin, enhancing the distinctive and performance-oriented theme of the SS’s driver environment.