2008 Chevrolet HHR SS Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2007
FAST FACTS
  • Turbocharged 4-cylinder makes 260 hp

  • Manual transmission from GM Powertrain Sweden

  • Chevrolet claims it has "track capable" handling

  • New wheels, front and rear styling

  • New seats, 140-mph speedometer

  • Has a boost gauge mounted to the A-pillar

  • Stability control is standard

  • On sale before the end of the year


Introduction

After the Chrysler PT Cruiser's initial sales success, General Motors decided it needed a similar vehicle in its lineup. GM hired the designer that penned the original PT Cruiser and turned him loose on the Chevrolet HHR or Heritage High Roof. Taking inspiration from early Suburbans, the Chevy HHR possesses a distinctive retro design and though it's based on the same platform as the Chevrolet Cobalt, it is technically classified a truck by government standards. When it debuted, the HHR was offered only in LS or LT trim, and last year a new HHR Panel model arrived for commercial use or for customizing. Until now, the most potent powertrain offered in the HHR was a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine making 175 horsepower. With the debut of the 2008 Chevrolet HHR SS at the annual Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit, Michigan, 260 ponies are on tap, which solves that problem right quick.

Hardware

Thanks to a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, the same one found under the hoods of the Potiac Solstice and Saturn Sky Red Line, the 2008 Chevrolet HHR SS makes 260 horsepower, representing a significant jump over the standard models. This engine should transform the HHR driving experience, having proven itself to deliver smooth, linear power combined with decent fuel economy in GM's two roadster models, according to reviewers. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard, sourced from GM Powertrain Sweden but with "enhanced shifter feel and placement," according to Chevrolet. An automatic transmission is optional.

Claiming that the Chevy HHR SS has "track capable" handling, Chevrolet engineers tuned the sport suspension on Germany's famed Nurburgring race track and matched the revised stabilizer bars, spring rates, and damper tuning to unique 18-inch wheels wearing Michelin Pilot Sport all-season tires. As a result, Chevy says the HHR SS can achieve .86 g of lateral skidpad grip, which is terrific for a truck but about average for the typical sporty car. Just in case this level of stick isn't enough, stability control and four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS come standard.

Design

To set the HHR SS apart from the LS and LT models, Chevrolet restyled the front and rear fascias for a more aggressive appearance, added a unique mesh grille, installed modified rocker panels, and adopted new 18-inch, polished and forged aluminum wheels with 225/45R18 performance tires. A new spoiler also sits above the rear window, and the trim is painted the same color as the body. Chevrolet offers the HHR SS in Victory Red, Black, Light Tarnished Silver Metallic, Mystique Blue Flash Metallic and Sunburst Orange II Metallic.

Inside, the available colors are Ebony, Light Grey and Victory Red. New sport seats are embroidered with the SS logo and contain ultra suede inserts. A new gauge cluster includes a 140-mph speedometer, there's a boost gauge integrated into the driver's side A-pillar, and Chevy replaced the HHR's standard tiller with a new "driver oriented" steering wheel. Side curtain airbags and a power sunroof are among the options for the 2008 Chevrolet HHR SS.


View Ratings for the 2008 Chevrolet HHR
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