Chevrolet Cobalt SS – Missed Connection

When we last left my vehicular adventures, I had just acquired a new job, sold my Camaro and now needed a newer, more reliable car. I went into the dealership with an honest enough mission. Buy a base Cobalt coupe, with a manual transmission, to save money and gas. But as often happens with me, I threw that plan out the window and wound up leaving with a Cobalt SS instead.

Ok, it wasn’t the full-out Cobalt SS Supercharged, but I still signed the dotted line on a shiny 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt SS with the newly introduced 2.4-liter Ecotec engine. I wanted a car that straddled the line between being entertaining to drive, was decent on gas and I could afford. As Meatloaf said, two out of three ain’t bad.

Not What I Expected

The car was affordable and decent enough on gas, but it never delivered the performance I expected. The Cobalt weighed roughly the same as my old Alero, and had a larger, more powerful engine from the same Ecotec family. But despite the 32 hp advantage, I only ever got the Cobalt to go 0.15 seconds faster than the Alero at the drag strip.

It did trap over 6 mph faster, so it had the top-end speed, but launching the car was a chore. Trying to find that sweet spot between excessive wheelspin and bogging the engine down was near impossible. I swear, there was a 10-rpm band I had to hit to launch properly.

Bad Shoes

The handling was never what I envisioned either. Ok, full disclaimer, this is partially my fault. The original Pirelli tires that came with the car provided good grip, but in my first year of ownership, I put over 50,000 km on the car. By the time my one year anniversary approached, the tires were shot.

Rather than buy a nice set of performance tires, I went with some cheaper tires that look good. They had like a 1000 treadwear rating and provided all the grip of a wet bar of soap. In the rain, they were useless, and I would do one-wheel burnouts even with the lightest of throttle inputs.

But the Cobalt’s handling woes were more than just tires. The suspension was floaty and allowed far too much initial travel which did not inspire confidence at speed. It’s a shame really as the Cobalt SS Supercharged, and especially the SS Turbocharged that came after it were such buttoned-down handling monsters.

There Were Good Times

It wasn’t all bad during my time with the car, in fact, there were plenty of highlights. My wife and I drove it to New York city when we were still dating for our first long-distance road trip. It was surprisingly comfortable during nine-hour days, although the seats weren’t the most supportive.

Like my Camaro, I put on hitch on it to tow my WaveRunner. I took that car and PWC camping all over the providence. Since it was hitched, I got overzealous and offered to help move my sister and her fiancé to their new house. I rented a 5’ X 8’ enclosed trailer, which towered over my car. Will filled that it to the brim with crap, including the world’s heaviest couch and some small appliances.

I distinctly remember having about a 90 km/h top speed on the highway due to a combination or weight or aerodynamic drag. And the smells my clutch would make after departing from a dead stop would make a mechanic cry.

My Real Home

Between work as a mobile service representative and visiting my wife (then girlfriend) who live across town, I basically lived in that car. But only three years into my four-year lease, I dumped it (the car, not my wife). I was already so far over my allotted mileage and entering that magical phase of a car’s life where things started breaking. We ran the numbers and the amount of money I would owe in mileage penalty would be the same amount if I just bought out the car now and sold it back to the dealership. Plus, I wouldn’t have to worry about the impending repair bills over the next 12 months.

I wanted to love the car, but in the end, it never connected with me the way other vehicles have. It was just a car. It was a big ol’ bowl of blah. Unlike many cars I’ve owned, I have no desire to ever own one of these again. Maybe because of any car I’ve ever owned, this is the car I by-far spent the most time in and put the most mileage on. Regardless, I did have some good times with this car, even if the magic was missing.  

Thanks for visiting AutoLobotomy.com

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