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Auto Test Drives

Impala SS Attacks the Cones
By Andrew Gardner
Oct 19, 2006, 22:51 PST
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We recently had the opportunity to spend some more time behind the wheel of Chevy's biggest (at least in terms of interior volume) SS vehicle, the mean V8-powered Impala SS. This time we were fine tuning our V8-powered front wheel drive sedan platform driving skills on a big autocross course and enjoying the excercise.

On the autocross course, everything we found we liked and disliked about the Impala SS's drivign characteristics from our earlier road test was accentuated. The power was great and readily available at all times for roaring through even short straights and for keeping the juics flowing through long sweeping bends before they tightened sharply at exit. The better than base level sedan handling was much appreciated in the gith turns, the tight double-apx turns, and the slalom...but it was still not preferably suited to this type of excursion. On the road the Impala SS lends itself to being hung up on transition an the twisty nature of autocross means you might be a bit crossed up at the steerign wheel while the front rubbersgive varying grip as determined by the frequently but slowly altered weight loading.

 

 

The transmission also throws a little bitty monkey wrench into the works as there's no manual gear selection other than low and lower. Luckily this course can be handled in second gear just fine so it's a matter of leaving it there and letting the computer decide whether or not first is needed. Ideally a moderate amount of manual shifting would be involved.

The favorite feature of the ride was the seats. For older drivers, it brings back great memories of trying to push big American sedans to the limits while sitting on slippery leather covered bench seats and hanging onto the steering wheel for dear life. The Impala SS didn't have a front bench seat, but it did have almost totally flat leather-clad seats and we were using the steering wheel as much for a body anchor as for an input mechanism for car control. This makes for a fun ride but a frustrating performance machine. We highly recommend this as a substitute for traditional car rides at county fairs and carnivals. It is also highly recommended for straight-line speed runs, long trips that need to be traveled at speed in comfort, or just as an opportunity to experience a modern interpretation of the classic American performance sedan.

Conclusion reaffirmed. This is a great sedan with lots of power and you can spin the tires all day long, but this is not an all around performance vehicle by any means. It's a sedan in the great American tradition of focusing on straight line performance from launch to midrange acceleration to a reasonable top end. It is also a sedan you drive to help you work on your smoothness in loading and unloading the suspension, as jerking motions lead to heavy understeer. This is a sedan worthy of an SS badge for its power, but aggressive cornering is best left to more all-round vehicles.

 

 

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