Dear Chevy, Let’s Make a New Nova

With the markets changing and Chevrolet possibly discontinuing the much loved Impala badge, we think it might be time to bring back another classic Chevy model in a different way. We’re not saying just to rebadge Impalas and call them Novas. No, we’re talking about making a four door, rear-wheel drive, tourer based on the successful Camaro platform. This could possibly be a recipe for success for Chevrolet and give them the sport sedan they are currently lacking.

Now, GM has done similar things in the past with the Pontiac G8 and Chevrolet SS, but those didn’t really take off for a multitude of reasons. Pontiac’s general poor sales, requirements from GM bailouts, and eventual closure of the brand led to the death of the G8, while Chevrolet’s poor naming convention and disinterest in promoting the American Holden killed the SS. If these types of factors and behaviors can be avoided, a new Nova could be a performance and brand success.

GM also has the Cadillac ATS sedans, which do fill this niche. The largest problem with the ATS though is that it is a bit expensive, especially if you want one with some significant horsepower inside it. That cost makes it rather inaccessible to the not-so-rich driver and leaves us craving for something that could fill that gap without breaking the bank. That’s where our new Nova idea comes into play.

ATS
2018 Cadillac ATS-V Sedan

 

The Platform

Our concept for a new Nova would be that of a four door sedan built on the most recent Camaro platform, with all engine, transmission, brakes, and suspension options. This could be used as a fairly successful cost saving effort, as it eliminates the need for extensive/expensive mechanical research and development by relying on pre-existing tech. The key expenditures would likely only need to focus on the new body design in terms of safety and cosmetic appeal.

Camaro.PNG
2018 Chevrolet Camaro – The framework for our dream Nova sedan.

With the current Camaro platform, there are already a variety of trim packages to choose from, which would translate well to a new performance oriented sedan without too many major tweaks. Our proposed trim outline would be extremely similar to the current Camaro trims.

Nova LS (Base): This is same as the current base Camaro. Keep the current 2.0L turbo four cylinder and 3.6L V6 power plants, rear-wheel drive, and the amenities/packages included in the base Camaro (including the RS and 1LE packages). It’s a simple idea that will flow through all of the Nova trim concepts.

Nova 1LT/2LT:  More or less the same deal as the Nova LS concept. Anything that is available with the Camaro LT trims would be available with the Nova 1LT/2LT.

Nova LS/LT AWD: Basically the same concept as the Nova LS and LT, but with an all-wheel drive drivetrain setup instead of the standard rear-wheel drive. While this might not be a selling point for buyers who were fans of the old, muscly Nova, it would act as competition for Dodge’s all-wheel drive Charger SXT, Subaru’s Legacy, and other AWD mid to full size sedans. This could provide a significant financial return, as it would likely be the most bought version, as most consumers are looking for something that makes for a dependable daily driver in all conditions. This AWD setup would deliver that dependable package, bringing in consumers and building continued popularity from the average driver.

Nova 1SS/2SS: Following the already established pattern, the Nova SS would be outfitted with the 6.2L V8 power plant along with the bells and whistles that are found in the corresponding Camaro SS trim. However, as this would be aimed at being more of a sport touring car than the more track focused Camaro SS, magnetic ride control would be an excellent option for these trims. Obviously keep the independent sport suspension as the stock option for those that want a more classic, muscly Nova, but offer the magnetic ride control (which is currently offered in the 1LE performance package) to make it more in line with other cars in the market.

Nova ZL1: Now this one is a bit of a dream, but damn it would be a great dream. The performance of a modern Camaro ZL1, but in the body of a sport sedan. This could be the pinnacle of modern sport sedans! Following the same trend, a Nova ZL1 could have all the bells and whistles of the Camaro ZL1. The Nova ZL1 could be aimed at being a “Hellcat Killer”, as the Hellcat would be one of the major competitors that the new Nova would have to beat. While the 6.2L supercharged V8 found in the Camaro ZL1 puts out 650 horsepower compared to the Hellcat’s 707, the ZL1 has demonstrated the ability to outperform both the Hellcat Charger and Challenger. This makes the Nova ZL1 beating the Hellcat, both in terms of performance and sales, a real possibility.


Name and Body Design

The name is an important factor for any potential new Nova. The Nova name conjures up thoughts of the old-school muscle classic and brings in a consumer base with existing memories of their or their parents’ old Nova. It’s a name forever intertwined with Chevrolet’s Super Sport performance and classic “old-school cool”, making it the near perfect nameplate to bring into the 21st century.

But with the name needs to come a design reminiscent of the muscle car Nova, and not just a Camaro redesigned with four doors. The best results would probably come from the third generation Nova, which is the one that is largely associated with the muscle car movement. Incorporation of the the late 60’s to early 70’s styling, mixed with some elements from the newest generation Camaro’s body design would likely produce the best results, as it would work off of both nostalgia for the old and the bold designs of the new.

Nova Gen 3
Third generation Chevy Nova. The old school cool.

One of the holdover ideas from the old Nova design should definitely be the placement of the SS badging. Newer models in Chevy’s line have taken to placing their trim/package badging in almost the corner of the grill. While this is a good design, the new Nova’s trim/package badging should be placed direct in the center of the grill and replace the usual bowtie. While this might seem largely irrelevant, that small design change can have a subconscious affect on consumers, as it will harken back to the muscle car Nova. It would hit the nostalgia factor for some consumers, and likely push them to take a look at it.

The Competition

A new Nova would be competing with a variety of four door performers, such as the previously mentioned Dodge Charger, but also the Chrysler 300, BMW’s 3 and 4 series, Kia’s Stinger, and Lexus’s IS 350. There are more out there, but I’m not going to list all of them for the sake of time. The point is, there is some fierce competition in the sport sedan market.

The new Nova would have an advantage over all of them in one form or the other though. In terms of the BMW and Mercedes sport sedan models, a large win for a new Nova would be the price. Since a new Nova operating on the Camaro platform would likely be priced the same (or relatively close) as the Camaro. This price gap gives it a large advantage over the BMW 3 series and Mercedes C class, as the price difference between the lowest trims on these two, and that of the Camaro, are incredibly gapped with the Camaro being a total of $10k – $15k cheaper. Not only is the Camaro’s 1LS trim cheaper than the Merc. and BMW equivalent trim, its specs are also better.

But, you don’t beat competition by beating their lowest with your lowest. It helps from the market standpoint, as it will bring in better sales if you have a cheaper car that is a better performer. But to really win, you need to punch up. This is where the ZL1 comes in.

The current going rate for a Camaro ZL1 is around $61,500 for a six-speed manual and $63,000 for a ten-speed auto. BMW’s top of the line 3 series car, the M3, has an MSRP of $66,500 for a manual and $69,000 for the automatic. The Mercedes-AMG C 63 is priced at 66,000 for the base and almost $78,000 for the S. And again, the Camaro is less expensive, but has better numbers. If incorporated in a sedan platform, it could probably beat out the more expensive competition in both performance and sales.

camarozl1
2018 Camaro ZL1 – The pinnacle of Camaros

In addition to the competition from abroad, a new Nova would likely be ahead of the competition born in the states. It’s primary competitor from the states, the Dodge Charger, does have a decent platform that it is working off of, but it is more of a sedan with performance added. A new Nova would be the antithesis of that, as it would be the sedan designed on a sporting platform. Hell, the 3.6L V6 Camaro’s are already putting out horsepower almost as high as the Charger’s 5.7L V8 Hemi, and it’s putting out better 0-60 times too; not that it means all that much (Camaro 5.3 sec; Charger R/T 5.6). While it wouldn’t make diehard Mopar fans switch to the “dark side”, it will definitely be a game changer for those that want an American sport sedan with decent power under the hood.

Final Thoughts

Now, this is a cool idea and all, but I’m just a guy who has no sway in the machinations of Chevrolet’s board of directors or R&D teams. I’m not sure if their financial personnel would see this as a good market decision or if daddy GM would even let something like this fly. I’m just a guy who likes to drive and write about fun cars, but this is something that I think would get a lot of positive attention and sales from a large number of people if done right.

If a new version of the Nova existed in the way we just described, I’d buy one the first day it was available. And there are probably a ton of enthusiasts and average drivers who would do the same. Come on, Chevy! Let’s do this!

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