Will the US get a real SS model in the future?
Chevy is going to offer a Cruze SS model in Singapore and for the love of god, let’s hope we get something better here in the US. In the island city-state, the SS model will just be a $3,500 stripe and body kit appearance package. Where is the great suspension setup and the 260-hp turbo engine the Cobalt SS had? With any luck, we get a true Cruze SS model in the US.
You might be wondering why it even matters if the Cruze does get a high performance option. In the 2011 model year, the Cruze is going to replace the Cobalt, but there is no high performance option. The Cobalt SS was a solid performer, but it suffered from rental car looks. Our team of editors at CarReview raved over the Cobalt SS and Road and Track Magazine considered the Cobalt SS best in its class for it’s outstanding performance.
The press praise did not end with Road and Track Magazine. Car and Driver Magazine noted in 2008 the Cobalt SS beat the Mazdspeed3′s lap record by 3 seconds in a road course performance comparison conducted at Virginia International Raceway. The Cobalt’s time matched that of a $40,000 Mitsubishi Evo MR. This was all done with a car that did not even have an independent rear suspension. A rather light 2,900-lbs curb weight and a torquey 260 hp turbo engine helped make the Cobalt SS a fast FWD car. The Cobalt SS also had an interesting no-lift shift technology that allowed you to change gears without ever taking your foot off the gas. A feature like that is normally reserved for race cars, not $24,000 grocery getters. GM discontinued the Cobalt SS in the 2009 model year.
The Cruze is on a much improved platform, so one would assume a Cruze SS done right would be a great car. Employees at GM seem to agree and according to Motor Authority, there are people inside the company that are campaigning to make the Cruze SS a reality.
Hopefully GM will deliver and give us a true SS model and not the vinyl and plastic option Singapore is getting. It would be interesting to see an SS version that did not use the 260-hp 2.0-liter, but instead retained the turbo 1.4-liter found in the standard Cruze. With forged internals, the small-displacement engine could produce more horsepower and at the same time still deliver good gas mileage. A car that could deliver 200 plus horsepower and still get 35mpg would be a great car.
If a true high-performance Cruze SS model is ever produced, don’t expect it until the Cruze gets a mid-model refresh in 2014. It seems likely that other markets will be stuck with the appearance package Singapore is getting. The standard Cruze model should be available to buy later this year.