2008 Chevy HHR SS First Drive Preview: World's 2nd Fastest Breadvan, Priced At $22,995S

I woke up this morning in Arizona and spent the day happily hooning the go fast Nurburgring-tuned version of Chevrolet's HHR on freeways, twisty mountain two-laners and the Bondurant Road Course. How does the car drive? How's the Launch Mode? How do 260 horses and 260 ft-lb of torque feel through the front wheels? How much does it cost? Why did Bob Lutz call me a "pinhead?" We'll answer a few questions — and show you the Chevy press release — after the jump.

First up, price: The 2008 Chevy HHR SS will set you back $22,995. That's for the manual, and trust us, you're going to want the manual. If for no other reason than the slushbox sucks up 25 hp. As for Maximum Bob, before taking to the track he and I both made a beeline for the extra large helmets. "I have a big noggin, 7 3/4," he said to me. "7 5/8" I answered back. "You're a pinhead!" was his retort. And that's my story, for now — come back on Monday for the full review but rest assured the world's fastest breadvan still retains the title.

For immediate release

2008 HHR SS FAST FACTS
• Engineered and developed by GM Performance Division
• 2.0L Ecotec turbocharged and intercooled engine with 260 horsepower (194 kW)
• GM Powertrain Sweden five-speed transmission with enhanced shifter feel/placement
• Nürburgring-tuned FE5 Sport suspension delivers 0.86 g grip (with manual transmission)
• SS-specific appearance, including new fascias, rockers and rear spoiler
• 18-inch high-polished forged aluminum wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport tires
• SS-specific interior with new sport seats, A-pillar boost gauge and more
• EPA-estimated 29 mpg highway with the manual transmission
• On sale: fourth quarter 2007

CHEVROLET INTRODUCES TURBOCHARGED 2008 HHR SS

DETROIT - During the nation's largest celebration of automotive heritage, the Woodward Dream Cruise, Chevrolet introduced the newest member of the prestigious SS family: the 2008 HHR SS.

The HHR SS combines all of the style and capability of the popular HHR family with uncompromising performance, including a turbocharged and intercooled engine that produces 260 horsepower (194 kW), unique exterior styling and a SS-specific interior. The vehicle was developed by GM Performance Division (GMPD), with a team of engineers and designers dedicated to crafting high-performance vehicles.

"With its muscular stance, turbocharged power and track-capable handling, the HHR SS is a worthy addition to SS lineup," said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. "It also reaffirms in a big way Chevy's commitment to the sport compact market."

Standard features include unique exterior appointments, with all-new front and rear fascias, new front grilles, a rear spoiler and 18-inch polished forged aluminum wheels wrapped with Michelin performance all-season tires. Inside, SS-embroidered sport seats - with ultra suede inserts - a new gauge cluster with 140-mph speedometer, an A-pillar boost gauge and a new, driver-oriented steering wheel and shifter support the serious driving capabilities.

Along with its high-performance attributes, the HHR SS comes standard with a host of safety and convenience features, including the StabiliTrak electronic stability control system and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS. Optional equipment includes side-impact air bags and a power-operated sunroof.

"This vehicle delivers all of the style, comfort and convenience found in the HHR portfolio, but also offers outstanding performance and versatility without sacrificing fuel economy," added Peper. "There's simply nothing else like it when it comes to four-door driving fun for the value."

The HHR SS arrives in dealerships in the fourth quarter of 2007.

An SS from the get go
The '08 HHR SS was engineered by GM Performance Division and is the first SS model developed since GMPD was charged with overseeing all of the "go, stop and turn" requirements demanded of any new Chevrolet wearing the SS badge.

"Beginning with HHR SS, all future SS models will have superior power, braking and handling capabilities for maximum credibility with our customers and enthusiasts alike," said John Heinricy, GM Performance Division executive. "The SS badge represents high performance, and the HHR SS delivers with a fully-integrated, balanced driving experience."

To that end, the HHR SS was engineered to offer more than simply increased power. An all-new FE5 Sport suspension was developed and tuned at Germany's famed Nürburgring racing circuit. It includes specific stabilizer bars, spring rates and damper tuning - all designed to complement the turbocharged powertrain.

Consequently, the HHR SS delivers a sports car-like maximum lateral grip of 0.86 g (with manual transmission). The brake system is enhanced, too, with a four-wheel disc system and standard ABS. StabiliTrak electronically controlled stability control system is standard.

The HHR SS's performance rubber meets the road via Michelin Pilot Sport MXM4 P225/45R18 tires mounted on 18-inch polished forged aluminum five-spoke wheels.

SS style
The HHR SS is distinguished on the exterior with several unique features:
• New air dam-style front fascia with fog lamps
• New mesh-style upper and lower grilles
• New rear fascia with outlet for single bright exhaust tip
• Rear spoiler (mounted above rear glass)
• New rocker moldings
• Body-color door handles, mirror caps and rear license plate surround
• SS badges on the front doors and rear liftgate

Large, five-spoke 18-inch polished forged aluminum wheels and performance tires are standard and are tailored with the specific body enhancements to give the HHR SS a lower, performance-oriented stance. Likewise, the available exterior colors enhance the sporty nature of the vehicle. They include Victory Red, Black, Light Tarnished Silver Metallic, Mystique Blue Flash Metallic and Sunburst Orange II Metallic.

Like the exterior, the interior is unique to the HHR 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 Grey and Victory Red.

Chevrolet is one of America's best-known and best-selling automotive brands. With the largest dealer network in the United States, Chevy is the leader in full-size trucks and the leader in sales of vehicles priced $35,000 and above. Chevrolet delivers more-than-expected value in every vehicle category, offering cars and trucks priced from $9,995 to $83,175. Chevy delivers expressive design, spirited performance and great value with standard features usually found only on more expensive vehicles. More information on Chevrolet can be found at www.chevrolet.com.