2009 CHEVROLET COBALT: POWERTRAIN ENHANCHEMENTS BRING SEGMENT-LEADING FUEL ECONOMCY AND NEW COBALT SS SEDAN DEBUTS
Known for value-driven, efficient performance, the sleek Chevrolet Cobalt greets 2009 with enhancements that provide increased fuel efficiency that is expected to be better than manual-transmission-equipped models of the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus.
Along with more-efficient performance, the ’09 Cobalt offers customer-focused enhancements that build on a package of choices, convenience and safety features that other competitors can’t match. And with an industry-best five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety “Best Pick” for safety and a lower MSRP than many popular competitors, it is no wonder the Cobalt is one of the most popular choices in the small-car segment. It ranks fourth in new registrations in a field with 20 competitors.
“No matter how you compare it against the competition, it’s clear that Cobalt is a winner,” said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. “Cobalt’s value is more than a competitive price and a long list of standard features. It’s in the performance, refinement and dependability of the car, as well as the wide range of model and option choices.”
The 2009 Cobalt lineup includes LS, LT and the turbocharged SS models – an SS sedan joins the ranks this year. The SS coupe and sedan are powered by a sophisticated 2.0L turbocharged and intercooled Ecotec engine that uses direct injection technology to provide a great balance of performance and fuel efficiency.
The previous Sport model is discontinued, but its spirit lives on in the Sport Appearance Package that is available on 2LT model. It includes a rear spoiler, larger body-color fascias and rocker moldings; 17-inch polished aluminum wheels with performance tires; chrome exhaust tip; fog lamps; white-face sport gauges; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob; and steering wheel audio controls.
Fuel economy improvement
Variable valve timing added to the 2.2L Ecotec engine enables more efficient performance, along with an increase in horsepower from 148 (110 kW) to 155 (116 kW)* – and the engine also qualifies the Cobalt as an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle. Helping to maximize fuel economy is a new, “taller” 3.63 final drive ratio for the manual transmission (previous final drive was 3.84:1) and new, 15-inch low rolling-resistance tires.
The powertrain and tire revisions enable an EPA-estimated highway rating of 37 mpg; and 25 mpg in city driving.
2009 changes in detail
In addition to the more efficient 2.2L models, a host of enhancements, refinements and customer-focused changes is implemented across the model range. They include:
Bluetooth capability – This technology enables wireless connectivity of cell phones, allowing for easier and safer hands-free phone connectivity.
USB port on the radios – For audiophiles, the addition of a USB port on the radio enables iPods and similar devices to be played through the Cobalt’s audio system.
New 16-inch wheel – A new, 16-inch wheel design is available on some models. It is an aluminum alloy wheel with a bright, machine-face appearance.
New 15-inch wheel cover – Some models come with a new, 15-inch styled wheel cover.
New exterior colors – Silver Ice Metallic, Gold Mist Metallic and Silver Moss Metallic are added to the Cobalt’s exterior color palette.
New interior color – Ebony is now available for sedan models; Cashmere is discontinued.
Standard tire inflator kit – The addition of a tire inflator kit in place of the standard spare tire saves space and weight in the Cobalt. A conventional spare tire is optional.
Additionally, a sedan model joins the Cobalt SS lineup. It offers all of the SS coupe’s performance, handling and styling features. See the “Cobalt SS details” section below for more information.
Available in coupe and sedan body styles, Cobalt features smooth and sleek exteriors with fast rooflines. A myriad of subtle details, such as aircraft-style doors that integrate the door frames into the exterior surface for a tighter, flush fit, contribute to Cobalt’s overall feeling of strength and solidity. Detailed headlamps and taillamps exude a premium appearance.
A sporty look for all models is achieved with a low-slung body and a curvaceous roofline – particularly in the coupe, which has tapered, reverse C-pillars that lead to Chevy’s signature four round taillamps. Cobalt’s other carefully executed design details include:
- Monochromatic details on all models, including door handles, bumpers, B-pillars (sedan) and roof molding for a more finished look
- Single-cavity headlamps with all forward lighting functions contained in the same unit (except foglamps)
- Different rear fascias for sedans and coupes creates distinction in lineup
- Chevy-signature horizontal grille bar and gold bowtie insignia
- Available stanchion-mounted rear spoiler
- Family of wheels ranging from 15-inch to 18-inch
- Front wheelhouse liners with molded-in mud/stone guards for LS and LT models.
The Chrome Exterior Package returns for LT sedan models and includes a chrome grille, body-side moldings, exhaust tip and door handles.
Chassis and suspension
Cobalt features a strong foundation, rigid body structure, well-isolated chassis and low interior noise levels, thanks in part to the use of Quiet Steel laminated sheetmetal, a premium material not normally found on vehicles in the compact segment. Cobalt’s underbody uses high-strength steel as welded members in strategic locations for maximum strength, structural integrity, mass optimization and crashworthiness.
The Cobalt rides on a MacPherson strut front suspension and a semi-independent, torsion beam rear suspension. Front and rear stabilizer bars – uncommon features for compact cars in Cobalt’s price range – are standard on all models. Suspension tuning for each model, including steering feel, spring rate and stabilizer bar diameter, is dialed in to provide distinct driving and handling characteristics. Speed-sensitive electric power steering is tuned to match the performance levels of the various tire and suspension packages.
Cobalt’s torsion beam rear suspension provides excellent ride and handling, while maximizing interior space. A hydraulic rear suspension bushing is employed on some models to improve the ride and suppress road noise. Rear wheel travel, at 126.5 mm in jounce and 68.5 mm in rebound, is longer than most vehicles in the segment.
Vented front disc brakes with single-piston calipers and full-cast rear drum brakes are standard on LS and LT. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS) are standard on 2LT and optional on 1LT and LS. Four-wheel disc brakes with StabiliTrak electronic stability control are standard on SS models. Cobalt also has a standard enhanced traction system (ETS) on vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission and ABS. ETS enhances traction by adjusting engine torque if wheel slip is detected.
Safety and security
The rigid body structure that lays the foundation of Cobalt’s dynamic driving experience also reinforces occupant safety. In addition to the solid unibody structure, dual-stage frontal air bags are standard and side head curtain air bags are standard in the United States. Front seat belt pretensioners, rear center shoulder belts and the LATCH child seat retention system are also standard.
Cobalt’s enhanced safety feature offerings include:
- StabiliTrak electronic stability control system standard on SS
- Traction control standard on all models equipped with automatic transmission and the available anti-lock braking system
- Tire pressure monitoring system standard on all models
- OnStar standard on all models
OnStar-equipped Cobalt models feature OnStar digital equipment, which also includes enhanced hands-free voice recognition capabilities, including more intuitive continuous digit dialing and improved voice recognition accuracy. The OnStar service also includes the Advanced Crash Response System, making crash data available to the participating 911 centers to help them dispatch the appropriate live-saving personnel and equipment to crash scenes faster.
Additional security is provided by the standard PASS-Key III Plus theft-deterrent system, which prevents vehicle operation if the right key is not used. Remote keyless entry and power door locks (not available on LS) provide lockout prevention, delayed locking and programmable operation.
Cobalt LS and LT are equipped with a 2.2L Ecotec four-cylinder. It is rated at 155 horsepower (116 kW)* and 150 lb.-ft. of torque (203 Nm).* Variable valve timing is added to the 2.2L engine for ’09, enabling a dramatic increase in efficiency, as well as an approximate 5-percent increase in horsepower over the ’08 version.
The Cobalt SS uses a 2.0L Ecotec turbo engine that produces 260 horsepower (194 kW)* and 260 lb.-ft. of torque (353 Nm)*. That equates to 2.1 horsepower per cubic inch of displacement (130 hp / 97 kW per liter), making it the most powerful engine in the Ecotec family. Gasoline direct-injection technology helps the engine produce more power while maintaining lower fuel consumption.
With direct injection, fuel is delivered directly to the combustion chamber to create a more complete burn of the air/fuel mixture. Less fuel is required to produce the equivalent horsepower, especially at normal cruising speeds, of a conventional port-injection combustion system. Direct injection technology works well with turbocharging and helps deliver a great balance of power and economy.
All of Cobalt’s Ecotec engines are designed with long-life components – some rated for 100,000 miles of normal use.
The standard transmission is a Getrag F23 five-speed manual, known for smooth shifting. A GM Powertrain Sweden F35 five-speed manual is standard on SS models.
Available on LS and LT models is the Hydra-Matic 4T45 electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. It uses full perimeter fastening directly to the engine block and oil pan to increase driveline stiffness, resulting in reduced noise and vibration. The 4T45 uses the Dexron VI fluid and is “filled for life,” meaning there is no scheduled maintenance required for the transmission under normal operating conditions.
Separate trim levels for each Cobalt model provide distinction and a tailored appearance. In keeping with Cobalt’s premium positioning, many features are standard, including air conditioning and electric rear defogger. Returning for ’09 is an AM/FM stereo radio and CD player with MP3 playback and auxiliary input jack; and driver information center. XM Satellite Radio is standard on all models.
Surprising amenities – such as an optional remote vehicle starter system (when an automatic transmission is ordered) – also lend an upscale feel to the Cobalt’s interior, as many of the standard and available features aren’t generally found within the vehicle’s competitive set. The available factory-installed remote vehicle starter system is integrated with the remote keyless entry feature and allows the driver to get a head start on the car’s interior heating and cooling from a range of up to 200 feet (61 m).
Additionally, Cobalt features plenty of interior comfort and flexibility, including easy access to the rear seat, 60/40 folding rear seats and interior access to the trunk area, as well as ample, versatile storage. Other interior highlights include:
- Height-adjustable three-spoke steering wheel
- Adjustable front head restraints
- Four cupholders in the center console; two for front-seat passengers, two for rear-seat passengers
- Pivoting center armrest has contoured top to facilitate easy, comfortable manual shifting; interior of console holds five CDs
- Numerous storage areas, including large, bin-like glove box
- Driver’s foot rest
- Height-adjustable driver’s seat
- Extensive applications of acoustic materials throughout
- Available sunroof
Cobalt interiors reflect a focus on ride comfort, with quality materials and stylish appointments throughout. The seats are designed to reflect the performance level of each model. Cloth bucket seats are standard on LS, while sport cloth seats with driver’s lumbar adjuster are standard on LT. Leather-appointed heated seats with leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob are available on LT. SS models boast unique interior appointments, included UltraLux-trimmed sport seats.
Cobalt SS details
Available in coupe and – new for ’09 – sedan body styles, the Cobalt SS is powered by a 260-horsepower (194 kW)* turbocharged and intercooled 2.0L Ecotec engine. In addition to exceptional performance, the engine also helps achieve good fuel efficiency.
The Cobalt SS was developed by GM Performance Division (GMPD), with a team of engineers and designers dedicated to crafting high-performance vehicles. An all-new FE5 Sport suspension was developed for the SS. It includes specific stabilizer bars, spring rates and damper tuning – all designed to complement the high-output turbocharged powertrain and mitigate afflictions such as torque steer. Driver-selectable modes help maximize performance whether on the street or track. The unique “no-lift shift” feature enables the Cobalt SS to achieve the best acceleration time via an algorithm in the engine controller.
Ensuring the car stops as confidently as it accelerates and corners are four-wheel disc brakes with standard ABS. The front brakes are from Brembo and have a performance-oriented fixed-caliper design, which resist fade better than floating caliper designs; the rear discs are vented for better heat dissipation. Along with these high-performance attributes, the Cobalt SS is also equipped with GM’s StabiliTrak electronic stability control system
With its balanced tuning, the Cobalt SS delivers a quick 0-60 time of approximately 5.7 seconds – thanks to the manual transmission’s “no-lift shift” feature – and an impressive maximum lateral grip of 0.9 g. This combination enabled the Cobalt SS to set a new class record when running the famed Nürburgring racing circuit, posting a time of 8:22.85 minutes.
The Cobalt SS is distinguished on the exterior with several unique features, including a distinctive, air dam-style front fascia with integrated projector-beam fog lamps. New front upper and lower grilles sport a new, SS-specific diamond-mesh appearance. SS-specific rockers and badging adorn the body sides, while a standard deck lid spoiler adds the requisite sporty touch to the rear of the car. The standard spoiler can be replaced with an optional high wing-style aero enhancement. Also at the rear is a prominent, bright-tip exhaust outlet.
Large, twin five-spoke 18-inch forged aluminum wheels and performance tires are standard, and are tailored with the specific body enhancements to give the Cobalt SS a lower, performance-oriented stance – while also showing off the large Brembo front brake calipers. They’re mounted on 225/40-series Continental summer tires.
Like the exterior, the interior is unique to the Cobalt SS, including SS-embroidered sport seats with suede-like UltraLux inserts, a specific gauge cluster, an A-pillar-mounted turbo boost gauge and a new shifter arrangement. Three interior color combinations are available: Ebony, Light Gray and Victory Red.
A reconfigurable performance display is available on the SS coupe. It allows the driver to select from a variety of performance measurements to be recorded and displayed on an LCD screen, including 0-60 mph and quarter-mile acceleration, braking performance and cornering grip (g load).