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New York show: American icon shows new moves

Early warning: Chevrolet's 2014 Impala has been revealed in 2012 ahead of a 2013 release.

Chevrolet Impala sheds fleet-car image with a new look and 21st century mechanicals

4 Apr 2012

GENERAL Motors’ all-American sedan, the Chevrolet Impala, is finally set to shed its dour image and ageing underpinnings and move up-market with a total makeover that could shock or delight the stars-and-stripes heartland.

But GM is giving potential customers for its best-selling large car plenty of time to come to terms with it – it is not due for release until next year.

Unveiled at the New York motor show today by GM North America president and former Holden chairman Mark Reuss, the 10th-generation Impala displays Chevrolet’s new chrome grille, subtle style elements from the Camaro and a sloping roofline in the modern four-door ‘coupe’ fashion.

GM designers describe the new look as “windswept” and a “just-right stance” in a design that “does not rely on nostalgia”.

The Impala nameplate has been around since 1958, when it was introduced as the flagship of the Bel Air range. It became a standalone model the following year when it appeared in all its land-barge glory, complete with legendary tailfins.

Chevrolet says the new Impala sits on an award-winning platform, which US pundits say is a variant of the Epsilon II architecture used in vehicles such as the Opel Insignia, Chevrolet (Holden) Malibu and Buick LaCrosse.

Because the Impala is bigger than all of those related cars, it is likely a stretched “Super Epsilon” platform that is also set to underpin the upcoming Cadillac XTS.

Automotive News reports that the new Impala is set to shed its fleet-and-rental-car persona, with a push by GM to appeal to more private buyers.

137 center imageBut this move – accompanied by expected price hikes to cover the cost of new technology built into the car – is likely to impact sales of the car that was America’s best-selling full-size sedan last year with 171,000 units, placing it in the US top 10.

The new model marks the first platform change for the Impala in more than a decade, and was well overdue for a refresh.

Mr Reuss said the 2014 Impala would re-establish the iconic nameplate as a design leader, with bold styling that would turn heads for years to come.

“The team has also delivered the comfort, safety, fuel efficiency and technology that will strengthen Impala’s leadership in the highly competitive full-size sedan market,” he said.

The Impala rides on MacPherson strut front suspension and a multilink rear set-up, and is powered by a choice of three powertrains – a mild-hybrid eAssist 2.4-litre four-cylinder with 134kW, a 145kW version of the Ecotec 2.5-litre four-cylinder from the Malibu, and the familiar GM V6, this time in 226kW guise.

Unlike Impalas of yore, there is not a V8 engine in sight.

The four-cylinder powertrains will come with active noise cancellation that, along with a stiffer body and plenty of sound deadening, is set to make the Impala the quietest Chevrolet ever.

All engines drive the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission, while electric-assisted power steering will be standard on all models.

The suite of safety technologies will include anti-collision radar, blind-spot warning, lane-departure warning and system that alerts the driver to other traffic when reversing out of a driveway.

The Impala will be built in GM’s Oshawa plant in Canada – where the Camaro is also produced – and also the Detroit-Hamtramck factory in Michigan.

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