crankandpiston drives the new-for-2014 Chevrolet Impala in Dubai, UAE, and puts the aggressively designed brute through its paces.[Not a valid template]
Judging by its pre-event press drivel, Chevrolet is taking no prisoners with its latest launch, and with good reason. Its newest front-wheel drive mid-size saloon will only be launched in the United States and the Middle East, meaning there’s not a huge margin for error. That’s especially true since, apparently, the new-for-2014 Impala sets a new benchmark for efficiency, refinement, infotainment and driving confidence. The Toyota Aurion, Ford Taurus, Dodge Charger and Hyundai Azera respectively best beware it seems….
As crankandpiston found out on the regional launch of Chevrolet’s new flagship model, the key for the new Impala – now in its tenth generation and able to trace its lineage back to 1957 – is the aesthetics: above even luxury, comfort, affordability, space and reliability on Chevy’s to-do list, the new mid-size saloon had to look the part.
A new curvaceous design to the dashboard – now lower than its predecessor to improve visibility – gets the ball rolling nicely. It’s a simple design but one that gives a greater impression of space, a box that’s already ticked thanks to copious amounts of head and legroom. Chevrolet’s MyLink interface also gets the thumbs up. Unlike its sister XTS saloon – with which the Impala shares a platform – Cadillac’s new CUE system has been abandoned in favour, presumably, of saving money. Still, large buttons and easy-to-follow Bluetooth and sat nav systems mean navigating MyLink, even with the most cack-handed of efforts, proves a piece of cake. Activate the system’s Valet program and the hidden compartment behind the eight-inch colour touchscreen – the front of which rather snazzily slides upwards for access – acts as a safe for valuables when the car is parked up. Just don’t forget the code, or the well put together trim will take hours to hack through.
There are a couple of issues, however Rotary dials for the climate control for instance look a little tired for a 2014 model, while certain panels feel a little scratchy to the touch. Instruments by and large have been nicely thought out for a clean looking centre console, though this is not without fault: its position on the dashboard means that the hazard warning light is obscured from the driver’s view behind the steering wheel. The Dark Titanium trim on our Impala LTZ test model is also very grey and thus a little dull, though customers do have three other trim options to choose from.
Step out into the heat and the Impala’s true impact reveals itself. During the saloon’s seventh iteration in 1994, a muscle car-inspired revival took place with a V8 being thrown under the bonnet and a sharper, more angrily sculpted look making its debut. Low sales and one brief hiatus later, a more curvaceous Impala look swept the forecourts for the best part of 13 years (and this even included a brief stint in America’s foremost stockcar series NASCAR). Little of this remains with the new model. Sleek, glaring headlights, a more pronounced front bumper and wider air intakes create a very striking dynamic look at the front, one further emphasised by sharpened body lines that extend across both the front and rear door panels, a distinctive accompaniment to the 20-inch aluminium wheels exclusive to the LTZ model. Granted this brawny look has softened at the rear, with an ‘Impala’ embossed chrome strip between the elegant taillights the closest we get to dynamic. The delicate grooves in the bootlid are a nice touch, but the look is considerably more reserved than the front.