Chevrolet Impala LTZ: A Jet Fighter with First Class comfort
When people of a certain generation hear the word Impala, the image of over-the-top rear-mounted fins immediately spring to mind. The Impala models of the late 50s and early 60s redefined automobile design with horizontal tail fins, a decade after Cadillac introduced vertical ones. Those were the glory days of massive engines, long – really long – cars that looked and felt like yachts, and an exuberant design oeuvre that was intended to lift Detroit out of the World War II blues.
Thankfully (or not), Chevrolet has decided to become a little more European in the design department these days, with all the “look-at-me!” shouting getting moved to the interior of the car rather than its exterior.
Unfortunately, that means no tail fins! But rest assured there’s still plenty of style in this beast from Detroit. Today’s Impala makes a quiet statement of class and breeding with its understated yet edgy design that goes toe-to-toe with a Lexus ES or even the Mercedes-Benz E Class and Audi A6 – both inside and out, and from the driver’s as well as the passenger’s perspectives.
Chevrolet takes to a higher level the American carmaker’s philosophy of providing a superior level and range of options than a European or Japanese luxury car but at a more competitive price point. For instance, the Impala comes with a cool (literally) remote start feature that is not be available on similar competitors from any country or continent. This is an underrated feature that is essential for a region where entering a car parked in the sun for more than an hour is like entering a pizza oven – the remote start ensures a cooler seat and steering wheel when you get in to the car, so you can avoid the obligatory 5 minutes of sweating while the car cools down.
Float like a butterfly riding on a cloud…
There’s much more, because comfort is a theme that the Impala takes very seriously. Both front seats have a warmer as well as a cooler, depending on which part of the year you are driving the Impala. There’s a wireless charging station for your smartphone, if your device supports it. The driver’s seat has two electronic memory settings, in case there are two people driving the car.
The dual air-conditioning system comes with rear vents and the option to sync the temperature setting at the touch of a button. The front and rear steering-mounted controls take care of just about everything on the car, including an adaptive cruise control. The wheel itself can be adjusted electronically, as can the front seats and headrest. No more fiddling around with mechanical levers.
What impressed us most on the Impala was the range for safety features provided by Chevrolet. A forward collision alert immediately starts beeping if you approach the vehicle in front of you at a certain speed, which you can set. The warning will automatically take the car off cruise control and slow it down. However, this makes tail-gating extremely difficult, so if you are one of those idiotic drivers who prefer to loom up behind cars just to get them to let you pass, you may want to turn the feature off. What was Chevrolet thinking, right?!
Other electronic safety aspects, apart from the eight airbags, comprise a lane-change warning, a blind-spot warning and rear-mounted camera and sensors to assist in parking. The rear-view as well as wing mirrors have an anti-glare function that prevents idiots behind you from blinding you. And a tire-pressure monitor keeps you updated on when you need to take action.
… A Butterfly with more smarts than Skynet (?)
As we’ve mentioned numerous times in past reviews, the Chevrolet MyLink system that acts as the brain of the vehicle is a masterpiece of UX and design. Housed in a pop-up screen (behind which you can store even more goodies), it takes care of all the settings you can imagine, pairs your phone within a couple of seconds, has the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto enabled, and streams your music through an opera-quality six-speaker Bose system. MyLink itself is a marvel of digital engineering in its own right.
But hey, you say, how does the car drive? Need you ask?
The Impala’s 3.6-liter V6 engine has power to spare. It idles at about 600 RPM, which indicates how much push there is in reserve for fast starts, with a rated horsepower of 305, similar to a low-end performance car. But the Impala is also a very smooth operator – don’t expect it to jump at the bidding of the accelerator. Although it will generate enough g-forces to push you back in your seat, it does so very gently, almost politely. And the six-speed automatic gearbox is smooth as silk.
So, the next time you need a car that makes a classy statement and a grand arrival, instead of the ubiquitous Uber Lexus limos floating around, take a second look at leasing an Impala. After all, by the definition imposed by the UAE Roads and Transport Authority, the Impala classifies as a limousine – and it’s a beauty.
|Understated good looks; great build||Fuel efficiency|
|Excellent Bose sound system|
|MyLink control panel|
|Very spacious cabin and huge luggage space|
|High degree of safety|
|A feast of driver electronics|
Luxury Sedan shootout
|Chevrolet Impala||Lexus ES||BMW 5 Series||Mercedes-Benz E Class||Audi A6|
|Engine||3.6L V6 FWD||3.5L V6 FWD||3.0L TC I6 RWD||2.0L TC I4 RWD||2.8L V6 4WD|
|Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)||9.2||9.3||8.4||7.0||6.2|
|0-100 kph (sec.)||7.1||7.2||6.1||7.7||8.1|
|Top Speed (kph)||220||228||250||250||235|
Fun to read: The Story of Tail Fins on American Cars