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The Chevy HHR SS Was a Cool (and Forgotten) Hot Hatchback

Generally speaking, the Chevy HHR wasn’t a very exciting car. Aside from its unusual styling, it had a 4-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive, fairly basic features and options, and a rather dull interior. Perhaps its most unique trait was that it offered a panel-van version, which — inexplicably — had rear doors without any exterior door handles. See the Chevrolet HHR models for sale near you

And then, the SS version came out. That’s when the HHR became cool.

The Chevy HHR SS was a unique vehicle because it debuted in a time when all things high-performance weren’t really on the mind of parent company General Motors — they were more concerned with trying to survive bankruptcy. This was the 2008 model year, at the beginning of the Great Recession, when car sales plunged and happiness surged out of automobile dealerships. And yet, there it was: the HHR SS.

For those of you who don’t know the HHR SS, here’s a description — you had the standard HHR, which delivered a boring 149 horsepower, and a slightly more powerful HHR that produced a still relatively dull 175 hp. And then you had the HHR SS, which used a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that made 260 hp. Surely nobody was asking for this vehicle, but I’m oh-so-glad it came to market.

I’m even more glad that Chevy followed up the HHR SS for the 2009 model year — now deeply into the heart of the recession — with an SS version of the HHR Panel. In other words, this was a hatchback-based panel van with no rear windows that had a 260-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder. It could do 0 to 60 miles per hour in 6.3 seconds with seats, probably even quicker in Panel form.

Unfortunately, the HHR SS and its Panel friend didn’t last long. The HHR SS Panel was only offered in 2009, while the regular SS model lasted only from 2008 to 2010. After that, it was back to work for General Motors, making normal, rational, reasonable cars that could sell in high volumes. And we’ve never seen anything like the HHR SS again.

The good news: There are still a lot of HHR SS models out there. There are currently almost 90 listed on Autotrader, with an average price of around $10,000 — not bad for a quirky hot hatch with 260 hp. Find a Chevrolet HHR for sale

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Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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  1. If GM were to bring back the HHR, I know hundreds of people who would rush to buy one.  My 2006 is still ourring along.  However, it predates the technology features which are becoming more and more important to safety.

    Same car with technology – what a winner that would be.
  2. I have owned a ’69 Z28, a 87 Buick GN, 2 Corvettes, 2 Vipers and a 2010 HHR SS (5 speed and factory Brembos). No fooling… SS’s 290HP, LNF VVT motor coupled with launch control, 20# of boost and super brakes… this car is one of the best hatches ever made. After 7 years you’d think I would be tired of it. Plus, it’s super reliable. PS Chevy has a “Stage 1” firmware tune that takes it from 260 to 290HP. Cool rating: High (but you need to drive it believe it). Note: The HHR SS evolved during its life. The first SS versions are supercharged. My turbocharged version started in 2008. Not all came with Brembos.

    • I have a 2008 HHR SS that i bought new,over 11 years old now,79,000 miles and i STILL LOVE IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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