Vehicle a Jekyll, Hyde approach to city driving
The Chevy Cobalt SS supercharged coupe definitely lives up to the term "pocket rocket."
That much was certainly confirmed by yours truly during a Canadian-exclusive advance test drive of the all-new performance compact coupe before it took its place on the floor of the Pacific International Auto Show.
It may bear the same name as its sedan sibling and share some familial characteristics in appearance, but make no mistake, this is a different machine. It's the auto version of Jekyll and Hyde.
The Cobalt SS is aimed at the young tuner crowd with a few shekels in their jeans.
In my book, $24,995 is more than a little coin, but relative to other similarly doctored, sorry, I mean performance-enhanced vehicles that's a competitive price.
If you don't burn rubber at every stop light you may even make less frequent stops at the gas pumps.
It boasts fuel economy of 10.2/7.4 litres per 100 kms (city/highway) --that's about one litre more than the less perky sedan/coupe versions.
Inside, save for the eye-catching leather seats with colour keyed insets, you may mistake it for a more docile version of the Cobalt. Eyes left and you spot the A-pillar-mounted boost gauge, which clues you into the idea that this maybe something special.
However, turn the key in the ignition and it just sounds like the basic Pursuit (the Pontiac version of the Cobalt) I tested recently, which is reviewed by Zack and Mac on Page C17. However, press the pedal to the metal and the power surge and accompanying roar threaten to whip your head back and bring Mr. Hyde into full view.
With more than 100 h.p. per litre -- 1.68 h.p. per cubic inch -- the 205-horse, 2.0-litre SC engine delivers. Watch that needle swing in the booster gauge!
A quick little lesson for those not hip to superchargers, known simply as "blowers" among enthusiasts. The engine-driven device crams pressurized air into the combustion chambers -- more air in means more power at the crankshaft.
The effect is dramatic: The 2.0-litre SC produces 40-per-cent more horsepower and 33-per-cent more torque than the larger displacement 2.2-litre engine found in Cobalt base, LS and LT models.
I loved the responsive, quick-shifting, heavy-duty five-speed manual transmission, which tames the excesses of sudden power boosts.
The sport-oriented suspension provides a smooth ride at speed even over, ahem, speed bumps.
In fast cornering, it holds firm and never slips a centimetre.
On busy city streets, its Dr. Jekyll reappears and it returns to being a perfectly normal, economical compact car that's easy to manouevre and park.
OK, time to get out and quit hyperventilating. The SS is a good looking, aggressively styled car with a wing-style rear spoiler, standard 18-inch aluminum wheels and performance tires.
Check it out for yourself at the show
Keith Morgan via The Province