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Auto blogFri, 15 Mar 2013 11:57:00 EST
Can A Fleet Queen Become a Fullsize King?
On paper, the Chevrolet Impala is a pretty strong seller, posting annual sales that have hovered right around 170,000 units for the last two years, but it only takes one trip to practically any rental car agency to discover where the majority of those sales have come from. In fact, General Motors told Autoblog that a full 70 percent of Impala sales last year went to fleet companies for things like rental cars and government vehicles. Logic tells us that this is neither good for resale values nor name equity, so Chevrolet is getting ready to roll out an all-new Impala with improved comfort, styling and technology, hoping to turn the tables on its retail-to-fleet ratio.
Chevrolet's sedans have come on quite strong in the last few months with the introduction of the Cruze diesel and the SS sedan, but while these will likely be low-volume sellers, there's more pressure for the new Impala to perform well as GM looks to slash fleet sales and compete with the wide variety of full-size sub-luxury sedans. Riding on a platform shared with the Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac XTS, the 2014 Impala will compete against the Hyundai Azera, Ford Taurus and Toyota Avalon on the more traditional side, while also looking to take a bite out of somewhat sportier models like the Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger twins and the Nissan Maxima. We headed to sunny San Diego to see if this totally new Impala can stand on its own without the assistance of fleet companies and rental agencies. [w/video
If you are a big fan of automotive oddities, this may come as a little treat. If you are a Shelby or Mustang diehard, prepare to have your sensibilities violated.
The master fabricators at BigDaddyCustoms are the minds behind what you see above. At first, it appears to be a slightly misshapen custom Mustang, modeled after "Eleanor" from Gone In 60 Seconds, but upon further examination, something appears to be amiss. In fact, the custom shop, based in India, has created an Eleanor replica grafted upon a lowly Chevrolet Optra. While it may take a second for the Optra to ring a bell, you should recognize its badge-engineered sibling, the Daewoo Lacetti, used on Top Gear.
We don't know what star would opt for the Reasonably Priced Car in Shelby's clothing, but it's clearly someone more concerned with the aesthetic than the performance credentials of this automotive mash-up.
Chevrolet showed off the new 2014 SS in an airport hangar last night, its first rear-wheel-drive performance sedan in the US since the Impala SS from 1997. We'll have more to say about the SS later today, but this is the sedan that Chevrolet sees as the final piece in restoring its performance credentials. For those of you looking for a manual transmission, however, that wish will go unfulfilled - at least for now: the only two options buyers will have are the color and whether or not they want a sunroof.
We'll work on getting some more angles (in better light) today at Daytona International Speedway, but with fans seeing the car for the first time, we don't hold out much luck of getting a clear shot. So for now, enjoy the high-res gallery above.