Chevy's Turbocharged Box
After months of spy photos, hazy rumors and dumpster-diving at GM's Performance Division, Chevrolet has finally released photos and details about its 260bhp HHR. And, no shock, it goes by the name HHR SS.
The HHR doesn't look like a direct competitor to, say, the Mazdaspeed3, but it holds up pretty well against that car in a head-to-head spec war. For instance, the front-drive HHR SS is only down 3 hp on the Mazda. They both use direct injection technology in their turbo engines and both wear 18-inch wheels. The Chevy is decorated with performance stuff in a similarly aggressive manner, and it has relatively large four-wheel disc brakes-just like the MS3. It may look a bit bigger, but the HHR SS runs a 103.6-inch wheelbase and is 176.5 inches long while the Mazdaspeed3 has a 103.9-inch wheelbase and is 176.8 inches long. However, the HHR SS has a manual transmission with five forward gears, one less than the MS3.
But comparisons on paper aren't what matters, unless, it's an SCC road test you're reading. What matters is how the HHR works. And with the Cobalt SS losing its supercharger for 2008, the HHR SS is alone in defending Chevy in the small-car performance wars. The 2.0-liter, direct injection turbo Ecotec four is essentially the same powerplant used in the Pontiac Solstice GXP and Saturn Sky Red Line, slightly re-plumbed for installation in this transverse-mounted, front-drive application. Chevy further claims the FE5 suspension (struts in front, a solid axle in back) was tuned on the Nrburgring for spectacular adhesion and responsiveness. A limited-slip differential will be optional.
So, like how the car looks? Let's see if Chevy can back up that different look with spectacular performance. The 2008 HHR SS should be on sale now, with a base price of around $24,000.