My test car was an arresting rallye yellow with a big wing on the trunk lid. While the wing probably looks cool as hell to anyone under 25, I found it a pain in the butt as it severely interfered with my rearward vision.
Completing the boy racer look (the SS targets males ages 18-25) are relatively restrained body color extensions, which come standard on the SS.
It also comes with 215/45R European-sourced performance tires and 18" alloy wheels. They look great and perform even better.
The trunk is enormous - 13.9 cubic feet - but the opening is quite small. With the high lift-over, not many objects much bigger than 14" TVs will fit inside. What's needed is a Euro-style hatch where the rear window and the trunk lid lift together.
In the Driver's Seat
There's a whole bunch of sporty-looking titanium-faced sports gauges on the well-thought-out dash. The pressure gauge for the Eaton supercharger (which I'll talk about in a moment) is tucked up in the left corner of the dash where the driver can keep an eye on it.
The Cobalt SS comes only as a 2-door, which shouldn't be a problem for the target market. If the front seat occupants scrunch up a bit, there's ample room in the back for two limber bods. Both front seats have multiple adjustment but no power controls.
The SS comes standard with a 228W Pioneer CD/MP3 sound system with seven speakers including a 10" sub-woofer. While there's nothing wrong with this system, the sub-woofer doesn't seem to generate the kind of low-end power called for in a car appealing to the SS's targeted demographic. I definitely see an opportunity here for the aftermarket.
On the Road
I didn't get a chance to test Chevy's boast of a 145 mph (235km/h) top speed, but I did find the SS mighty quick in the 0-60 mph and 40-80 mph speed ranges. GM claims 060mph times in the sub-6 second range and I have no reason to doubt that number. My major complaint had to do with the anemic exhaust note. This thing targets young people, and the young'uns seem to like noise, right? Well, your mom's Odyssey has a meaner exhaust sound than this thing. Come on, Chevy, how much would a couple of echo cans cost?
The Cobalt SS's extra soundproofing, moulded sound pads and triple door seals do a great job of keeping out road noise. Now all we need is a nice raunchy exhaust note to complete the soundtrack.
However, with the standard sport-tuned suspension (including a big front roll bar and stiff springs), the ride on city streets can be harsh.
My major gripe is the incomprehensibly wide turning circle. Don't try to do a quick U-ee on a normal width city street because you'll embarrass yourself and hold up traffic. I've driven five-ton trucks that didn't require much more road to turn on.
Finally, in rain and snow a contemporary traction control system, which transfers power to the front wheel that has grip, is essential for a powerful car like this - but it's not available on the SS. A $1500 "performance package" gets you a limited-slip differential which will help, but a powerful front-drive car really needs a proper traction control system.
Even so, the Cobalt SS is such a terrific car at a fair price that I think it's got to be a contender for bargain-priced performance car of the year. And that sounds good to ears of any age.