Built on General Motors’ Delta architecture and launched for 2005, the front-wheel-drive subcompact Cobalt comes in sedan and coupe body styles. Most Cobalts initially used a 145-horsepower four-cylinder, but a 205-hp supercharged engine went into the SS Supercharged coupe.
Eight versions are offered for 2006, including two additional SS editions. Sedans come in LS, LT, LTZ and SS trim levels; coupes are offered in LS, LT, SS and SS Supercharged editions. Distinct interiors and wheels help in differentiating the models. Both new offerings for 2006, the basic SS coupe and sedan get 17-inch wheels, an FE3 performance suspension and a 171-hp 2.4-liter engine with variable valve timing.
Chevrolet says the Cobalt coupe has an “elegantly tapered reverse C-pillar leading the eye to Chevrolet’s signature four round taillamps.” Both body styles feature a horizontally split grille with a gold bow tie badge.
SS Supercharged coupes feature bolder fascias and rocker-panel areas. All models have body-colored door handles and jewellike headlights and taillights. A power sunroof is optional.
Base models are equipped with disc brakes in front and drums in the rear, and SS Supercharged coupes have all-disc brakes. Built on a 103.3-inch wheelbase, the Cobalt measures a bit more than 180 inches long overall and 67.9 inches wide. Front and rear stabilizer bars are installed. LS and LT models ride on 15-inch tires, the LTZ holds 16-inchers, the SS gets 17-inch tires and the SS Supercharged coupe is fitted with 18-inch wheels.
With front bucket seats and a 60/40-split, folding rear seat, all Cobalts seat five occupants. Chevrolet says higher-than-usual seating positions are intended to give sedan occupants a “more commanding view of the road.” Occupants can access the trunk area from inside the car.
Standard equipment includes air conditioning, an electric rear defogger, a tilt steering column, a driver information center and a CD player. Heated leather seats, XM Satellite Radio, MP3 playback capability and GM’s OnStar communication system are optional.
LS, LT and LTZ models use a 2.2-liter four-cylinder that produces 145 hp. A supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the SS Supercharged coupe develops 205 hp and 200 pounds-feet of torque. In between, SS models hold a new 171-hp 2.4-liter engine.
Normally aspirated engines can team with either a Getrag five-speed-manual gearbox or a four-speed automatic. The SS Supercharged coupe comes only with a five-speed manual.
Antilock brakes are standard on LT, LTZ and SS models and optional[d1] on LS models. Cobalts with the automatic gearbox and ABS also have traction control. Side curtain-type airbags are optional.
Apart from several imperfections, the Cobalt is a cut above the small-car norm, offering good front passenger space and reasonably spirited performance, even with an automatic transmission. The Cobalt is agile around town and stable enough on the highway, but you must pay attention to remain on course. The ride is surprisingly good, with only the more notable bumps and holes causing trouble.
Backseat space is awful, with marginal headroom and virtually no legroom unless the front seat is well forward. Getting in and out is a battle. When accelerating even a bit, the exhaust bleats like a little foghorn. The handbrake is in an awkward position when the center armrest is down.