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Chevy Code 130R:
Where’d This One Come From?

March 4, 2012 by Matt

Chevy Chevrolet Code 130R Red

Seriously. There’s no precedent here.

One of the stars of last month’s Detroit Auto Show is the car pictured above: The oddly-named Chevy Code 130R (code for what?). A lightweight front-engine rear-driver with punchy, masculine proportions, it reads like a stripped-down BMW 1 Series for the younger set.

Equipped with an optional 6-speed manual transmission and powered by a 150-hp 4-banger (with a hybrid “boost” system good for another dozen or so horsepower), the Code 130R won’t be buckling pavement anytime soon. That very fact, however, is what makes it so surprising this car has emerged from Chevy. Sure, their Corvette Z06 and ZR1 are track dominators, and the Camaro ZL1 acquits itself quite well in the twisties, so it’s fair to say the automaker can put together cars that can handle, but I can’t recall that they’ve ever developed a concept that adheres to the lower-power + lightweight + RWD formula. No, in every previous instance, good-handling Chevys—or GM cars in general—were invariably the ones given a massive engine, and didn’t necessarily prioritize low weight. But recently, Chevy, in an effort to plant their flag in the youthful sports coupe market segment, needed a response to the Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ twins, and serendipitously, Cadillac was in the midst of developing a brand new smaller RWD platform for their new BMW 3 Series fighter, the ATS. Chevy seized the day, truncating the platform to underpin the Code 130R. It’s fair to say, then, that in this case they were saved by Cadillac’s recent Great Awakening to the wonders of RWD + good handling, since otherwise Chevy probably would have just tarted up the Malibu with sporty-looking duds and tried to pass it off as a real threat to its Japanese competition.

Chevy Chevrolet Code 130R Red

The icing on the cake here is the styling. As bad as the Camaro’s is, the Code 130R’s styling is good. It’s just a delightful car to behold. It’s distinctive without being tacky, the lines are confident without being overdone, and best of all, the proportions are the real drivers of the car’s design, not ticky-tack decoration, as in years past. And the whole car carries uniquely Chevy overtones. I’m honestly so shocked that the Code 130R wears a bowtie that I’m tempted to ask which closet the Chevy designers and engineers were locked in during its development. The car hasn’t yet been green-lit for production, but there’s so much promise here. It’s a great place for Chevy to start—finally.

Filed under: Chevrolet, Concept Cars, News


  1. John D says:

    Just a bit bloated looking (even if it is small) and I don’t care for the grill (opinion based on the two photos seen here and I reserve the right to change it), but I will give it two thumbs up for everything else. It’s a shocker coming from Chevy, that’s for sure…

    (I think it’s the rounded waist line that makes it look a little swollen to me. If that were a bit more defined I wouldn’t have anything to complain about. ;)

  2. John D says:

    (Or is that belt line… Anyway, the line that runs the length of the car and separates the body from the cabin/window area. Don’t you love all my technical terminology? :)

    • Matt says:

      I think beltline is the term you’re looking for. :)

      It does look stubby, but I can’t really find fault with its proportions (I happen to think the 1 Series is a great-looking car too). The lines are meant to communicate “fun” more than “uncompromising speed,” as might be the case in a more hardcore sports car.

      Interestingly, if you squash it just a bit, its overall shape and stance (if not the detailing) is very reminiscent of…an FD RX-7.

      • K Fox says:

        “Interestingly, if you squash it just a bit, its overall shape and stance (if not the detailing) is very reminiscent of…an FD RX-7.”

        Eh?? Squash it how? While I find myself quite pleasantly surprised by this car, and consequently quite interested, I don’t see the comparison to the curvacious, svelt, SEXY, FD RX7. I still want an FD, simply because of it’s looks, and then the car underneath being great is just a bonus. This Chevy isn’t quite as nice looking, but it’s not bad either, and it does seem to be a decent car too (from the sound of the preliminaries). Time will tell if they’re smart enough to actually make it…

        K Fox

        • Matt says:

          You be the judge:

          Chevy Code 130R Mazda FD RX-7

          The Code 130R’s got back seats, which accounts for the extra length of the greenhouse, the general stance is similar, IMO. Bear in mind you’re talking to one of the biggest FD fans on the planet, so I hesitate to compare anything to it, but the 130R’s proportions were just there, y’know?

  3. Michael says:

    I think it looks great.. yes it’s bulky but these days all cars seem to have that look. Looks to be great fun as a daily, can’t wait for it to go on sale! Side note: chevy should make an light weight v6 for this… now that’d be fun!

    • Matt says:

      Agreed. Unfortunately, it looks like if the 130R makes it to production, all it’ll get will be a set of 4-bangers (one or more turbocharged). A lightweight V6 would be more in keeping with Chevy’s character, given their historical reliance on the V6, but I doubt it’ll happen.

      • Josh says:

        3.8 optional would be nice, at least they’re doing the FR Alpha platform. There was mention they are creating this vehicle for the Generation Y so maybe they’ll get somebody from Marketing to get their @$$ online and start reading the posts! We want an affordable sports car, FR, with a 3.8L Option! Or we’re all buying RICERS! LOL jk about the last part.

        • Matt says:

          A 3.8 option would be nice, but I would like to see them equip the initial car with a less powerful engine, a la FR-S/BRZ, just to show they’re serious about the car’s priorities (fun-to-drive, handling, etc). After they establish that they can roll out a more powerful engine option.

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