Holden's new mid-size competitor has made its debut in Chevy form today, with the unveiling of the 2012 Chevrolet Malibu at the Shanghai Auto Show.
As with most of its internationally-sourced models, the Holden Malibu is expected to feature almost identical styling to its Chevrolet brother - although a Cruze-inspired face will replace the Chevy dual-port grille.
Drawing inspiration from across the GM range, including the smaller Cruze and the Camaro sports car, the new Malibu will replace the less stylish and slow-selling Epica when it arrives in Australia next year.
The Malibu's interior features a tall centre stack with a touchscreen system that flips open to reveal a hidden storage compartment. Behind the steering wheel is a pair of Camaro-like gauge frames, continuing the sporting theme of the exterior design.
Although interior trim options will likely vary, the vehicle revealed at Shanghai shows a combination of black and chocolate hues, light blue stitching and woodgrain highlights throughout the cabin.
In the US, the touchscreen system will feature Chevrolet's MyLink software, but in Australia we can likely expect Holden's new IQ system - already used in the Series II Commodore.
The 2012 Malibu is both larger and smaller than the model it replaces, featuring a 114mm shorter wheelbase (at 2738mm) but a 51mm wider track at the front and rear - offering increased hip and shoulder room in the interior and 462 litres of rear storage space.
In the US, the Malibu will be offered with a new direct-injected 2.5 litre four-cylinder Ecotec petrol engine, paired with a six-speed Hydra-Matic 6T40 automatic transmission and producing 141kW and 245Nm of torque.
Suspension is handled up front by MacPherson type struts and a multi-link arrangement at the rear, and braking is managed by ventilated discs at the front and solid discs out back.
Standard safety features will include dual-stage front airbags for the driver and front passenger, along with pelvic/thorax side-impact and knee airbags up front also. Roof rail airbags with rollover protection will also be standard.
Optional safety features in the US will include second-row head/thorax side-impact airbags, lane departure warning system with forward collision alert and a rearview camera system.
The Malibu in Australia
Holden has confirmed that its Epica replacement will wear the Malibu badge when it launches in Australia sometime in 2012.
“Malibu will represent another major step forward in the Holden product offensive when it arrives late next year, filling a gap in our model line-up between our leading Cruze and Commodore models,” Holden Executive Director of Sales, Marketing and Aftersales, John Elsworth said.
“We think it will really hit the mark. From the Camaro-inspired exterior design and sleek interior to the dynamic performance capabilities, it is another great example of the sophistication we’re building into our new-generation global vehicles.“We’ll offer high-performing fuel-efficient engines, a high level of safety and a range of features and technologies to appeal to customers in the competitive mid-size segment.”
With the new Malibu expected to be sold in nearly 100 countries, production will take place at a number of plants. The origin of Australia's Malibu has yet to be confirmed, although Korean production is likely.
Holden will release details specific to the Malibu model sold sold in Australia closer to its local launch in 2012.