A supercharged rocket
Introduced as a 2005 model, the Cobalt was GM’s most ambitious attempt to go fender-to-fender with compact Asian imports. It had a tough act to follow replacing the Cavalier. Motor Trend loved it saying it was solidly built, suitably refined, and attractively priced, it’s an American car that can compete with its foreign rivals. Let’s put a pin in that and come back to it later because it’s the SS model that is a real hoot and this week’s car spot. Sure they gave it a huge rear wing but more important is that the SS is supercharged putting out 205 horsepower, quite a lot for a 2,800-pound compact.
In Motor Trend testing, the Cobalt SS was the fastest regular-production front-drive car through the slalom they’d tested in three years, faster through the cones than the new Corvette Z51. The SS out-cornered the VW R32 on the skidpad, outgunned the MINI Cooper S 0-to-60 mph, and out-stopped the Subaru Impreza WRX 60-to-0 mph. I had a chance to ride along with the dad and daughter of this Cobalt SS at Road America’s Winter Autocross Series when I ran my 22 Jeep Compass in. This car is a little rocket and it was really cool to hear the whine of the Roots-type Eaton blower pumping 12 psi of boost.
Now let’s get back to the 800-pound gorilla in the room, GM quality. In typical form with the company cutting corners, there were lots of recalls. It began in November 2004 with a small recall on the new-for-2005 Cobalt due to a headlight shield that could loosen and cause additional glare for oncoming traffic affecting just 1,378 vehicles. The numbers kept getting worse with several more recalls for a variety of issues. In March 2010, GM conducted its largest Cobalt recall to date, 905,000 examples of the 2005-2010 Cobalt and 2007-2009 G5 (its Pontiac cousin), for a bad power-steering system that could make the car harder to turn at low speeds.
RELATED Video: I ride along with the father/daughter team at the Road America Winter Autocross Event.
A guy that I used to work with has a SS and he told me that once you get past all the recalls, it was a pretty decent car and a blast to drive. America put up with all the headaches because GM sold over a million of them before production ended in 2001 and the Cobalt was replaced with the Chevy Cruze in 2010. Just 3,168 Cobalt SS Turbo coupes were ever made, and the sedan is much rarer with just 474 being produced. What are they worth now? You can pick up one of these pretty cheap, under $5,000. The daughter was telling me that they picked up this one with a salvage title and another one as a parts car.
Thanks for stopping by and checking us out. Be sure to check back next Friday for another car spot along with some of its history. Have a great weekend.