Engine: 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol, 123kW/225Nm
Transmission: Six-speed auto, front-wheel-drive
Overall fuel economy: 8.0litres/100km
C02 emissions: 192g/km
Equipment: Includes reversing camera, 7” touch-screen interface, and automatic parking brake.
Safety: Five stars (ANCAP)
Factory warranty: Three year/100,000km
Remember the Holden Epica? Thought not, as it was hardly an epic car, although it was cheap. Now Holden’s playing a similar card with the new Malibu, which is yet another medium-sized four-door made in the same Korean factory as its forgettable forebear. Looks like Holden might have got it right this time around, however. For the Malibu occupies a similar value-leading price position to the Epica, yet is a far more engaging car, both to drive and to look at. Some of this is due to the key role Holden played during the gestation of the Malibu, with Melbourne-based designers and engineers being responsible for the overall interior and exterior design, powertrain calibration, and a special chassis tune for Tasman Sea markets. The Aussie design team had just signed off on a new-generation Camaro muscle-car for North American consumption, so it’s probably not surprising that they adopted a Camaro theme for the Malibu, both inside and out. You’ll see hints of the Mustang-fighter in the taillights, instrument pods, and the vestigial hipline carved into the flanks of the Malibu. They create a visual point of difference in a sector where marketers are always crowing about the ‘European design’ of their offerings. The development of a dedicated suspension package for local roads is another thing that separates the Malibu from its competition. It was a bit of a rushed job as Holden had intended to adopt the same spring and damping rates as Europe-bound Chevy Malibus, and 11th hour changes were made when Holden’s chassis engineers found that car lacking on the rougher roads found in this neck of the woods. This ‘thinking locally and acting locally’ really paid dividends, as the Malibu has a suspension set-up that ranks alongside that of the new Mazda6 and the not-so-new Ford Mondeo as the best in the class. As for powertrain, the petrol Malibu is neither the best performer, nor the worse, in the segment. – Paul Owen
Visual appeal has an endearing American theme.
Not so good
Holden’s long history of offering mediocre cars in this segment.