NEW REAR DECK and sheet metal (above) subdues bat-wing styling. The big, 348-cubic-inch V-8 (top right) performs briskly and smoothly. Wraparound windshield (center) produces bad reflections and restricts front seat access, but luxurious interior is sensible and in good taste. Trunk (bottom) is spacious for work or play.
THE IMPALA hardtop is, perhaps, the best reason for Chevrolet's introduction of the Corvair. This big, high-powered and luxurious automobile proves just how far Chevy has expanded from the concept of cheap transportation into the lower levels of medium-priced luxury.
But, if smooth luxury is your goal, the Impala has it. Indeed, some important aspects of the car have been slighted in this emphasis.
The test car's engine was the big, 348-cubic-inch V-8, developing 250 hp in its mildest stage of tune with one four-barrel carburetor and a 9.5-to-i compression ratio. Behind it was the Turboglide transmission, a torque converter automatic with two forward speed ranges.
Performance was brisk, but not unexpected, with a 0-to-60 time of 10.6 seconds and cruising speeds as high as 75 mph are quiet and comfortable.
Beyond 6o mph, though, reserve power for passing dropped more sharply than usual because there was no kickdown gear. The shift to a lower ratio was accomplished by the torque converter and, while it was extremely smooth, it was not as responsive as some competitive automatics.
The lower range had no function under normal conditions. It was extremely low, with a maximum speed of only 40 mph, and served primarily to slow the car on downgrades.
For this purpose, it really proved useful because the brakes were not up to the rigors of mountain driving. Power-assisted, they worked easily without needing a delicate touch but faded quickly under sustained hard use. In the higher gear range, a short, down-hill run through a series of hairpin turns cut braking power approximately in half before the car reached the bottom.
This problem, while common among Amcrican-made cars, was especially annoying on a Chevrolet. The factory knows how to engineer better brakes and, in fact, offers excellent ones optionally. It was disappointing to find the standard equipment still so inadequate.