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2009 Chevrolet Cobalt SSAs part of their massive budget cuts, General Motors recently disbanded the GM Performance Division. More specifically, they dispersed its engineers to work on other products.

I'm feeling a little guilty about this. In my review of the 2009 Cadillac CTS-V -- one of Performance's latest efforts and one of my favorite cars -- I said, "Well done, General Motors -- now just apply this same kind of engineering talent to your small, fuel-efficient cars, and everything will come up roses." Honestly, I didn't expect them to take me seriously...

I just finished a week of testing one of the Performance Division's smaller efforts, the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt SS. Now, the SS isn't exactly the best platform to start with. So were the GMPD guys able to turn it into a silk purse? Find out in my 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt SS test drive and review. -- Aaron Gold

Photo © Aaron Gold

March 13, 2009 at 8:12 am
(1) Mick says:

So just for kicks and grins, and because so many automotive resources compare these vehicles, this appears to be the About.com scorecard so far…

’07 Mazdaspeed3: 4.5 Stars
’07 VW GTI: 4.5 Stars
’07 Honda Civic Si: 4 Stars
’09 Mitsu Lancer Ralliart: 4 Stars
’09 Subaru WRX: 4 Stars
’09 Chevy Cobalt SS: 3 Stars

The interesting thing is that the Mazda, VW, and Honda are all mostly unchanged from their intros a few years ago, yet are still really competitive, making new guys like the Cobalt SS come in to the category at full steam. Perhaps the standard was set so high from the start, that its been hard to top since? Even the WRX had to jump to catch up after only one year. As for the Ralliart, perhaps that’s better off against the R32 than the GTI, at least until a manny-tranny version appears.

March 13, 2009 at 8:48 am
(2) Brent says:

I think an even better comparator than the GLI would be the 5-door VW GTI. I haven’t found a car yet that provides so much aggressiveness+civility in this price range. As you have mentioned, the interior and handling are typical of at least 1 higher class, and initial price and longterm affordability (full service warranty) leave its competitors far behind. My 2008 is my favorite car after 43 yrs and a dozen performance-oriented cars, even my beloved ’89 CRX-Si.

March 13, 2009 at 9:05 am
(3) Aaron Gold - Cars Guide says:

Mick, an interesting comparison. The thing about the star ratings — and keep in mind what the star ratings mean — is that they are always relative to what’s out at the time — so a 2007 model that scores 4.5 stars on introduction might only get 2.5 or 3 stars when tested 2 or 3 years later. I don’t go back and update the star ratings because, well, I’d spend all my time updating old star ratings. If I had to rate the GLI today, it’d probably get 3.5 — it’s down on power compared to the Cobalt SS and WRX, and with no limited-slip differential, it has inside-front wheelspin problems. But it’s still practical and still lots of fun. A lot of people put the Mazdaspeed 3 up top… I’ve never been that car’s biggest fan, but it is very, very good. Can’t wait to drive the new version, which should be appearing before too long.

Anyway, when I think about it, that ranking isn’t too far off. You left out the Dodge Caliber SRT4, which belongs on the bottom of the list, and the HHR SS, which would be one up from the bottom… yeah, I guess it is pretty accurate! — Aaron

March 13, 2009 at 1:01 pm
(4) Hawaiian Don says:

If rated today,I would definitely drop the Civic Si down to 3.5 stars, since the competition is passing it by. I wasn’t that impressed with its torqueless engine when it came out and its handling was only “good”. The Cobalt SS is a primitive little brute that’s a great deal for a “go fast” driver who only cares about that singular purpose.Otherwise, I wouldn’t get caught dead it that plain jane little rocket.

March 13, 2009 at 1:24 pm
(5) chris says:

I have a 2008 Mazdaspeed3. With that being said, Chevey has made a real contender here. I would feel a little less comforable running one ot these since they run almost 100% similar numbers in 0-60 and 1/4 mile.. The .92g skidpad numbers give the edge to the Chevy. That being said, I love my car. I wouldnt trade it for any Cobalt. I really love the GTI as well. It and the MS3 are light years beyond a Civic Si.

March 13, 2009 at 4:19 pm
(6) Mike in Minn says:

Something (experience I think) tells me that the real-world price of a Cobalt SS will significantly undercut some of the mentioned competition. That kind of performance at a price that would only buy you the plain vanilla version of one of the others is what makes it attractive.

September 28, 2011 at 6:11 pm
(7) NamR says:

Coming from a 2007 mazdaspeed to a 2010 cobalt turbo. I can tell you that the handling on the cobalt is much more impressive. Gearbox is better as well. Just more fun to drive. Acceleration is similar to the speed.

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