Laker-yellow cars are always a slight disappointment when they land outside your door for a week's test: when you drive them, you can never be sure whether onlookers are straining to see its fine lines or trying to see which schlub bought a day-glo paint job to compensate for something.
Then again, they also make perfect fan fare for rocking up to the Staples Center to watch the Lakers play Sunday against the Spurs the wife's purple Marc Jacobs shoes complemented the gold of the Lakers jerseys as well as the yellow of the phenomenal Chevy Cobalt SS.
This curvaceous compact three-door sports coupe phenomenon is the equivalent of fast-break-ending Kobe tomahawk.
And phenomenal is the word as in a Tokyo Drift phenom (or an Andrew Bynum): this performance isn't too far apart from those portrayed racing on public streets which, though normally I would argue otherwise this car really made you want to race along Ocean Blvd., on the course laid out for the Long Beach Grand Prix each year a la the street races of Monaco; obviously safety dictates that you can't.
But as in the Chrysler Hemi Charger R/T we drove a coupla months back, even off track on civvy streets you can get perfectly pleasant hints of what a speed monster the SS is is by a mere dab on the power pedal, which sends you flying, figuratively. On track, you can imagine how much fun it was putting it through its paces on the Nurburgring, Germany, in development several years back.
Best thing was the SS didn't have any noticeable lag between gunning the accelerator and feeling the power surge from the engine to the front wheels, unusual for a supercharger, which usually has to suck in masses of air before pushing out the power. Engineering the drag-racing-based 2-liter 205hp Ecotec engine to do this is a feat in itself though the instant-accelerating will be the same though much easier to accomplish in the other SS on the market, the 2.4-liter normally aspirated 170bhp.
Both will redline in four gears of the short-throw five-speed box, and both - though again I wouldn't recommend it - can be chipped fairly easily in the aftermarket. Most, I wager, will be. Be careful it does not void that impressive 5-year or 160,000-mile powertrain warranty.
GM also offers 'Stage' packs, 1 and 2, which essentially add 30 and 40 bhp respectively, and you may find you need this on account of the car being a touch heavy for its class and doesn't push out a huge amount of torque, at just 200 ft-lb at 4400rpm (though the cam timing was altered to push out more mid-range torque to match the high-end power). Still, figures of 0-60mph in 6.4 seconds are not to be sniffed at, and score well against its main competitors, Japanese and Korean pocket rockets.
Below the surface you have tech alert MacPherson struts and coil springs at the front, and at the back a rear torsion bar for stiffness and sprung independent suspension with performance shocks and stabiliser bar. It may therefor be wise to throw in limited slip differential for $800 or so. It's all bolted on to the Delta chassis it shares with stablemate the Ion.
Inside is all boy-racer trim with fake metal surrounds and SS-emblazoned floormats and leather seats. It doesn't have those wonderfull fitting front seats like some that hug you while you rip round corners at speeds you probably shouldn't and I never could quite get the driving position right, but the seats are heated, a big bonus for some of your more aged gear-heads, and great for late-night or early-morning performance meets.
Price is real good for the money at $23,820 on the road, which includes one year of GM's OnStar safe and sound security system, 18-inch polished aluminum rims, head and side curtain airbags, and the sip differential.
Gas is reasonable - depending on how often you put the foot down - at 22 and 30 town and highway respectively, which could depending on your persuasion leave you more cash to spend on $10 beers at halftime at Staples.
But what counts more in this exciting, exhilarating Laker-yellow speed monster is finding a lane, putting the foot down, and driving at speed to your goal just like Kobe.