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First look: Holden reveals 2013 Malibu

Putting on a front: Holden's Malibu mid-size sedan will get a Holden-ised grille in line with other models such as the Captiva and Cruze.

Holden's new Camry-fighter revealed in images of Malibu engineering mules

24 Jul 2012

THE first images of Holden’s version of the mid-size Malibu sedan – the company’s vital Camry rival – have been released, revealing a clear Holden family face.

The Malibu has emerged as engineering cars arrive in Australia for local development, testing and tailoring of the car’s dynamics for the local market ahead of its launch in the second quarter of next year.

Holden has applied its own front-end styling to the Malibu, giving it a family look shared across the Barina Spark city car, Captiva SUV and locally built Cruze small car.

Its styling is unlike the Barina light car, recently launched Colorado one-tonne ute and upcoming Volt range-extender EV, which retain the bold Chevrolet-style dual-port grilles of their global donor cars.

In addition to an Australia-specific suspension tune, Holden says its engineers are also developing transmission calibrations for the local and global markets.

Holden director of integration and safety Ian Butler described the Malibu as a “fantastic global car”.

“But of course we want to make sure that it goes on sale with plenty of Holden input to ensure it suits Australia’s unique and varied road conditions,” he said.

13 center imageFrom top: Holden Malibu Chevrolet Malibu front and rear.

Testing of the Malibu is taking place at Holden’s Lang Lang proving ground in Victoria and public road testing across the state.

Mr Butler highlighted the importance of Holden engineers’ input on the vehicles and the work done to tailor the Malibu to Australian customer tastes.

“Our engineers have paid close attention to the vehicle’s driving dynamics, ride and handling, suspension and comfort so Malibu will be sure to meet the discerning needs of drivers in this competitive segment,” he said.

Holden Chairman and CEO Mike Devereux recently described the front-drive Malibu as the first real Holden competitor to the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord in more than 10 years.

The Malibu will be sold in more than 100 markets around the world and built in several locations, with South Korea the unconfirmed but likely source for Australian-delivered cars.

Holden brings in the Barina Spark, Barina and Captiva from GM Korea, while the Combo van is sourced from Europe, the Colorado is built in Thailand and the Volt will come from the US.

The Cruze sedan and hatch are built in Australia alongside the home-grown Commodore, Sportwagon, Ute and Caprice, although the Cruze wagon will come from GM Korea when it launches late this year or early in 2013.

Engine line-up for the local Malibu is yet to be confirmed, but a new 136kW/245Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is widely expected to feature in Australia.

Other petrol drivetrains used internationally include a 104kW/184Nm 2.0-litre and a 125kW/226Nm 2.4-litre.

For initial sales in North America, the 2.4-litre engine, tuned to produce 136kW and 232Nm, combines with a 15kW motor-generator to create a hybrid.

GM has confirmed that a powerful 2.0-litre turbo-petrol will be added to the line-up.

The Malibu is based on GM’s global mid-size Epsilon II platform that also underpins the Opel Insignia, which will beat the Malibu to the Australian market when it – and the Opel brand – is launched here in September.

At 4859mm long, the Malibu is just 38mm shorter than the Commodore, making it bigger than rivals such as the Toyota Camry (4815mm), Honda Accord (4740mm) and Mazda6 (4735mm).

Holden first brought the Malibu to Australian roads in June last year, shortly after its global debut at the Shanghai motor show.

At the time, left-hand-drive cars were tested on public roads on and around Phillip Island, which is a short drive from Lang Lang.

Holden played a part in parent General Motors’ global “workshare” strategy to calibrate the Malibu’s four-cylinder petrol engine.

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