Volume II, Issue 4, Page 26

4/17/07

Introduced in ’05 and virtually unchanged, the Cobalt Supercharged remains fresh. It still amazes us that Chevrolet gave this car a fighting chance right out of the chute—forged parts in the motor, sussed out


The 2.0L engine in the Cobalt Supercharged trickled down from GM-affiliate Saab, although Saab’s engine is turbocharged, not supercharged. Though extremely tractable and fun to drive, its output is not nearly enough for a leadfoot, but there’s help.

suspension, and a lovable list price. As the antecedent of the much-maligned Cavalier, the Cobalt stands way tall, the perfect next-generation form and one that addresses and amends all of the J-Car’s cobbled-up shortcomings. The car turned into a real stiff. Literally.

As the beneficiary of GM’s global Delta architecture, the Cobalt adopted Corvette science by mounting the front suspension components to a rigid cradle assembly comprised of four large hydro-formed steel tubes and two side members that are welded to front and rear crossmembers. A firm platform is the prescribed path to precise handling characteristics and true-straight tracking. Torsional and bending stiffness were drastically increased and are abetted by high-strength steel parts placed at strategic points in the uni-body, adding more stiffness and reluctance to twist. On top of this, the chassis and suspension were developed on American road courses as well as the vaunted Nurburgring. The suspension system is Regular Production Order FE5

When the SS Supercharged Cobalt was introduced, it was aimed smack at the belly of the import tuners: big wheels, skinny sidewalls, wing on the deck, high-zoot audio system, and the all-important boost gauge stuck to the A-pillar. Thankfully, the plan also included some motor sack to back the super chassis up.


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The 2.0-liter (122ci) engine has already produced 1,000-1,300hp with the production cylinder block in tube chassis race cars. The stock crankshaft will handle as much as 500hp. So according to this, the current 205hp engine is emitting but a kernel of its potential. And if you didn’t already know, the engine in the supercharged car is basically a Saab design—the 2.2L and 2.4L normally aspirated engines are from the Ecotec mold. Certainly, 300hp and just as much grunt at the wheels are completely within anyone’s grasp and pocketbook.

INTERIOR/ERGONOMICS

This place is a welcome haunt. We admire the efficiency of form that a car of the Cobalt’s class provides. We don’t need much more interior room, we don’t hit our head on the roof, all the stuff you’re supposed to grip or twist and pull or push is logically arranged and can be set without looking. The seats are comfortable enough, even on three-hour interstate runs. They’re supportive without being obdurate.


Office space is roomy and comfortable, controls are logically arranged and easy to access, pedals are for heel-and-toe, and the shifter is precise and has a short throw.

Outward view is grand. The hood curves away from the windshield leaving nothing but the road in front of you. Even this bad-ass version of the Cobalt, being on the low end of the price ladder, is without certain things that would be standard anywhere else. Where’s that center arm rest, for instance? Something less than a console would work just fine, anything but that big bundle of towels or that crusty pile of Krispy-Kreme boxes we’d been using.

Of particular note is the shifter mechanism. Boys and girls, if you don’t remember what the Cavalier’s was like, the one in the Cobalt Supercharged is tight and accurate, able to withstand some pretty severe abuse, too. The shift pattern is close and gear engagement is positive. Clutch pedal “weight” is light and release is very linear. The brake and throttle are positioned for a lively heel-and-toe dance.