Yes the HHR was done under Lutz so it did see some improvement.
GM did get it about interiors but they lacked money to really finish a car. Scott Settlmire of the F body program said they always had just enough money to do the suspension and engine but always ran short with the interior. Today that is no longer a problem on each new model and the old ones are replaced.
GM back then could not even afford to market the HHR SS. That is why you never heard of them and they only has a little flyer insert at the dealer. Things at GM were bad much longer than many realize. That is what is so exciting today as they for once in a long time are really finishing cars. The new Malibu will shock many how well it will be refined for the segment.
Thanks for the info! I agree that the interior and build quality were a let down. GM just didn't "get it" as far as interiors went until the late 2000s.
Honestly though, the HHR had better fit and finish than the Cobalt, so that's something. The dash and center stack pieces were just designed better. HHR's are way more livable, Cobalts are awful inside.
Thanks guys and yes a custom tune makes a world of difference and having a real transmission shop dial in the shift points. This has a free flow cold air intake and a free flow Borla exhaust. It moves and I can attest to mid triple digits of flight on the local freeways.