If thirty or so years ago someone said that crossovers would be one of the biggest-selling vehicle categories, they would’ve been lynched, stuffed into a trunk of a large sedan and quietly disposed of. Oh, how times have changed; the SUV is king, and the traditional sedan is almost facing extinction. Nameplates like Taurus, Fusion, Chrysler 200, Sebring, Malibu, and Cruze have all seen the sharp edge of the axe.
But it doesn’t need to be this way. My counter-argument to the SUV brigade is a re-imaging of a well-known American nameplate – the venerable Chevrolet Impala. Sure, it’s set to disappear after the 2020 model year – however what if it made a comeback with muscular-retro styling and rear-wheel-drive substance? Let’s illustratively explore further…
A Muscular Re-imagining
Sadly the current Impala has all the appeal of a mid-2000’s Accord with some mildly-interesting rear fender creases, so you can’t blame punters for choosing a crossover over this four-door beige-mobile that’s a faint shadow of its former self.
To address this, my study pays homage to the 1964 Impala 4-door hardtop with its frameless windows and clean body lines, while also borrowing elements from the more curvy 1967 model. To bring it into the future, Chevrolet’s street-inspired design language is utilised, with elements from the Camaro and Corvette infused into the metalwork.
Frontal styling is dominated by a shark-nosed, egg-crate grille, a muscular hood, and squared-off fenders. A diagonal black switchblade-like panel flows down from the hood into the door sills and incorporates hidden brake ducts. Blacked-out A and C-pillars exude a floating roof-effect, whilst the side sculpting features aggressive rear haunches and lower door scallops for visual dynamism.
Power To The People
General Motors aren’t short of a potent powertrain or two, and this study acknowledges the Impala’s V8 past and an electrified future. Let’s start with the basics though; a proven 3.6-litre V6 engine with 320 horses and 280 pound-feet of torque would be a foot in the door to the range, followed by a thumping 6.2-litre LT2 V8 plucked from the C8 Corvette.
Using the latter unit could offer up to 495 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. Power would be fed to the rear wheels via an 8-speed Tremec dual-clutch gearbox.
GM CEO Mary Barra has painted an all-electric future for the brand, and using electrification for the Impala could save the large sedan too. A high-performance, dual-motor setup, 100kWh battery pack, and a Tesla Model S rivaling 380 or so miles (over 610 km) of range could be just the ticket for market rejuvenation.
The Camaro Conundrum
There have been some rumors floating around that the Chevrolet Camaro won’t live -at least in its current form- past 2023, which GM neither confirmed or denied. Still, what if it and the Impala returned on a new, rear-wheel-drive platform with loads of cutting-edge technology and driver assists, and most importantly, electrification, much like what Ford is doing with the Mustang Mach-E?
Such a move would provide better economies of scale, and future-proofing for a sustainable performance division to GM’s core car/crossover business in the same way AMG does with its standalone models. Therefore the Impala nameplate could move beyond rental agency fodder into something much more aspirational, and not the geriatric shadow of its former self.
What are your views on this design study? Could a new RWD Impala lure people out of their crossovers and front-wheel-drive Accords, Camrys, and Avalons?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.