It may also represent the latest evidence of a fresh new evolution of Chevrolet’s family styling, with last year’s new Impala, January’s new Volt EV and today’s new Malibu all wearing similar outfits.
That new face flows back into a long bonnet and coupe-like glasshouse, which descends into a short rear deck and an integrated boot-lip spoiler.
A pair of flowing character lines run through the profile, reaching out of the rear wheel well and wrapping through the front guard.
Inside, there’s an overlapping two-tone dash design (expect a black/grey combo to appear at some point), replete with chrome and imitation wood highlights.
A touchscreen display pokes out of the centre stack, and a wide second display lurks between the gauges and meters of the instrument cluster.
Body, Powertrains, Tech
The new Malibu rides again on GM’s front- and all-wheel-drive Epsilon 2 platform, but GM says it has used more high-strength steel to cut nearly 140kg out of the midsizer’s bulk.
It’s barely a midsizer anymore, however, with the new Malibu adding another 60mm to its overall length (now 4917mm) and just under 95mm to its wheelbase.
GM says rear legroom alone has grown by 33mm in the new model.
In the US, the new Malibu will be offered with three powertrains, including the reappearance of the hybrid model that had previously featured in that market.
Opening the range is a new 1.5 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, offering 119kW and 250Nm of torque.
Matched to a six-speed auto, GM says the engine can deliver 6.3 l/100km on the highway and 8.7 l/100km in town.
Driving the hybrid model is a system borrowed from the new Volt, pairing a 1.8 litre four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor and a 1.5kWh lithium-ion battery pack for a combined 135kW output.
GM claims the Malibu hybrid will offer electric-only propulsion at speeds up to 88km/h (55mph), which it claims will make the Malibu good for fuel figures of at least 5.2 l/100km.
At the top of the range is the Malibu turbo, driven by the same 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine offered with the current US-market Malibu, offering 186kW/350Nm in the new model.
The turbocharged Malibu’s six-speed auto has been swapped out for an eight-speed unit in the new range.
On the safety front, GM’s new Teen Driver system is featured, along with 10 airbags, a rear-view camera, front front pedestrian alert, lane keeping assist, active cruise control with automatic braking and Intellibeam automatic high-beam headlights.
The new Malibu will go on sale in the US later this year, but Holden has yet to confirm if it will get an Australian berth.
Speculation continues as to which model in the GM family will ‘replace’ the Commodore when it is retired in 2016, with models like the new Malibu and the next-generation Opel Insignia all believed to be genuine contenders.
The recent Buick Avenir concept could also preview a new large sedan for Australia.
The new Malibu’s increased length, now 4917mm, brings it periously close to the 4947mm VF Commodore, although its 2833mm wheelbase leaves it well short of the VF’s 2915mm base.
For now, Holden remains famously quiet, confirming only that it will consider the local case for this new Malibu.
“We continuously review all potential products that may suit Australia, but have no announcements at this time,” the company told TMR today.
“Holden is committed to leveraging GM’s global product portfolio to provide the best vehicles for our customers.”