Page 1: Introduction
LOS ANGELES, CA - When Chevrolet brings the 2005 Cobalt coupe and sedan to market in the first quarter of next year, General Motors should have a small car about which to brag for the first time in a decade. Replacing the ancient Cavalier in the automaker's lineup, the 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt promises stylish sheetmetal, quality cabin appointments and a fun-to-drive character; elements that the Cavalier has rarely possessed during its 23-year run.
As the second wave of a two-pronged attack on the small car market, the Chevrolet Cobalt will compete in the emerging premium compact class against the likes of the Mazda 3, the Subaru Impreza and the Volkswagen Jetta, as well as fully optioned versions of the Ford Focus, the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla. The Chevrolet Aveo, introduced for 2004, will serve entry-compact buyers wishing to spend less than $15,000.
Most Chevy Cobalts will be sedans, sold in base, LS, LT or SS trim levels. The more expressive coupe comes in base, LS, SS and SS Supercharged versions. Sheetmetal from the A-pillar forward is shared, but from the windshield back, each Cobalt is unique.
Cobalt sedans have a distinctly European flair, with thick painted roof pillars, a reverse dogleg C-pillar, tautly stretched sheetmetal and simple triangular taillights. Proportions are quite good front to rear, giving the Chevrolet Cobalt a well-balanced look. The Cobalt coupe receives a fastback appearance not dissimilar from the existing Cavalier two-door. Corvette-inspired taillights are found at the rear, Chevrolet wisely avoiding the full-panel appliqué used on the Impala sedan for similar effect. Styling in front is clean and attractive, without the ugly bisected headlamp cluster seen on the Malibu. Both models receive body-color door handles, and gap tolerances for door, fender, hood and trunk fits have been reduced for high-quality fit and finish.
Page 2: Power
Under the 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt's shapely hood resides one of three available engines. Base, LS and LT models are powered by a 2.2-liter inline four cylinder that makes about 140 horsepower. The performance-oriented SS gets a 2.4-liter inline four with variable valve timing that is expected to produce 170 horsepower. Coupes in SS Supercharged trim will receive a supercharged 2.0-liter four banger capable of producing more than 200 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, with a four-speed automatic optional. The SS Supercharged coupe gets a beefed up manual to manage its power and torque.
Page 3: Pricing
Dual-stage front airbags come standard with side curtain airbags optional. Traction control is also available, and ABS is standard on all Cobalts except base models.
Because the Chevrolet Cobalt won't reach showrooms until January of 2005, detailed specifications were not available upon the vehicle's introduction at the 2004 Greater Los Angeles Auto Show. In fact, reporters were not allowed to inspect the quality of the cabin materials, as they had not been finalized at the time of the Cobalt's unveiling.
Our initial impressions, based on the information provided and cursory examination from outside of the Chevrolet Cobalt: styling is spot on; interior design and ergonomics are well executed; the SS Supercharged model sounds promising; refinement and competence of mechanical package remains to be proven; occupant comfort levels are unknown. Also, where's the trendy five-door hatchback?
Despite the unanswered questions, one thing is certain: the 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt is sure to lure compact car shoppers to Chevrolet showrooms beginning next year.
--Photos courtesy of General Motors Corporation