Why You Should Buy This Car:
Very impressive performance, especially for the price. We love the 260 hp by 260 ft-lb Ecotec mill, as it's as lag free as the BMW twin-turbo I-6. Mated to a 3,280 car, that's enough power to make the HHR SS fast. Compare its 0-60 of 6.3 seconds with a manual GTI's 6.9 seconds. Even with the DSG, the Volkswagen turns in 6.7 seconds. Despite the wrong wheels doing the work, the HHR is quick and confident through corners. The chassis is composed and confidence inspiring, while remaining Swiss in its neutrality. In Competitive Mode, the HHR SS feels like it's oversteering. No torque steer. 29 mph mpg on the highway. Great shifter. Excellent freeway manners. Big, low-load trunk. Personally, I like how it looks. $22,995 is a smart price. And that proboscis hanging off the front? That's the cover for the huge intercooler.

Why You Shouldn't Buy This Car:
You can't see out of it; the A-pillars are thicker than your thigh. The choppy-chop roof further hinders visibility. The no-lift shift is more gimmick than feature. The steering is a little vague. While worlds better than any other Delta platform interior we've sat in, some of the $0.02 parts (like the window switches) boggle the mind. The optional Brembo kit should be standard. As should the limited slip diff. The GM Performance Driver's Seat is anything but. The automatic is for the birds, the slow birds. Fully kitted out, the HHR SS costs more than a MazdaSpeed3. And the MazdaSpeed3 is a better car.


Suitability Parameters:
Speed Merchants: Yes
Fashion Victims: No
Treehuggers: No
Mack Daddies: No
Tuner Crowd: Yes
Hairdressers: No
Penny Pinchers: Yes
Euro Snobs: No
Working Stiffs: Yes
Technogeeks: No
Poseurs: No
Soccer Moms: No
Nascar Dads: Yes
Golfing Grandparents: Maybe

Also Consider:
• Chrysler PT Cruiser Turbo
• Volkswagen GTI
• Mazda MazdaSpeed3
• Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V

• Manufacturer: Chevrolet
• Model tested: HHR SS
• Model year: 2008
• Base Price: $22,995
• Price as Tested: n/a
• Engine type: 2.0-liter turbocharged Ecotec I-4
• Horsepower: 260 @ 5300 rpm
• Torque: 260@ 2000 rpm
• Red line: 6,300 RPM
• Transmission: 5-speed manual
• Curb Weight: 3,280 lbs
• LxWxH: 176.5" x 69.1 " x 62.5"
• Wheelbase: 103.6"
• Tires: P225/45R18 Michelin Pilot MXM4
• Drive type: FWD
• 0 - 60 mph: 6.3 seconds
• 1/4-mile: 14.8 seconds @ 98.5 mph
• Top speed: 150 MPH
• Fuel economy city/highway: 21/29 MPG
• Jalopnik observed: n/a
• NHTSA crash test rating: n/a

[Part 1]