Chevy Cobalt SS and Honda Civic Hybrid
Now that's a bizarre comparison.
The Cobalt SS is the most efficient affordable new
car on the list. It's also reported to be the best held secret in
the auto industry. The chassis is relatively light at just under
3000 lbs. Low inertia helps stopping distance, acceleration, cornering
and mpg. What puts this light chassis well ahead of its competition
is a very efficient engine.
The 2.0L turbo is a well-balanced engine that produces
a maximum of 260 horsepower and 260 ft lbs of torque. That's a power
to weight ratio of 1:11.5. An efficient engine and a light chassis
is a solid combination that will always score well. The Cobalt SS
is a well-rounded athlete that performs very well at everything,
even price. Its the quickest new car under $25,000.
The only other comparable car on the list is the Honda
Civic Hybrid NAVI CVT. For about the same price the Civic Hybrid
compromises acceleration for going the distance and does it well.
The stopping distance is dangerously long to maximize the effectiveness
of the regenerative braking system. The hybrid power plant won't
do anything in a hurry. Maintaining a slow rate of acceleration
reduces force and energy needed to get the car to cruising speed.
These are the typical hybrid compromises that result in such high
mpg ratings. The Honda Civic Hybrid also holds the title of being
the lightest hybrid of 2008.
Other competing cars hurt by inefficient engines would
be the Saturn Astra, Mitsubishi Lancer, Honda Civic, Hyundai Tiburon,
and Kia Rondo. The Nissan Sentra SE-R, Volkswagen Jetta TDI, and
Dodge Caliber perform admirably.
The Chevy Cobalt SS and Honda Civic Hybrid use fuel
with about equal efficiency. Both car owners are getting the same
amount of value out of a gallon of gas.
The comparison here has to do with work. Work is what
a machine does. A machine must move a mass a distance over some
unit of time. A machine does work by using force (mass x acceleration)
to move a mass some distance.
Work = mass x acceleration x distance
Both cars weigh the same, can accelerate and travel
a distance on a unit of fuel. One car accelerates well at the expense
of distance. The other car goes the distance at the expense of acceleration.
The net result is that both cars do the same work and provide equal
value to the unit of gasoline purchased. The Cobalt SS owner is
buying acceleration as economically as possible. The Honda Civic
Hybrid owner is buying distance as economically as possible. Both
cars make superb use of fuel; which makes them the two greenest
new cars under $24,000.
I've driven the Cobalt Sport with a naturally aspirated
2.4L engine mated to an automatic. The car was a blast to drive
in both the wet and the dry. In the pouring rain the car maintained
excellent traction. The car effortlessly danced through highway
traffic in the downpour. On an open wet road off the highway I improvised
my own slalom course and the car never hinted at a slip as I reached
highway speeds. Despite not having a turbo, the 2.4L produced plenty
of torque and never complained about hills. The interior was somewhat
forgettable. However it did have an eight inch factory subwoofer
in the trunk that would have been a lot of fun if there were something
other than talk-radio and country on the airwaves.
2008 Cobalt SS sedan and coupe
2008 Honda Civic Hybrid NAVI CVT
Reprogram the Cobalt Engine for a 20% increase in
GM offers a Turbo upgrade kit for the Cobalt, Solstice,
Sky Redline, HHR SS for $650. Part number:19212670. Available at
any GM dealer.
The upgrade kit was deisgned by GM engineers to get
more power and maintain factory warranty. The kit is legal in all
50 states. It is easy to bolt on and does not affect driveability.
2007-08 Solstice/Sky Manual 290 Hp @5200 rpm and 340
2007-08 Solstice Auto 290 Hp @5200 rpm and 325 ft-lbs @3600
2008 HHR SS Manual and Auto 290 Hp @5200 rpm and 315 ft-lbs @4800
Cobalt Turbo kit available first quarter
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