GET ON BOARD
There could be fireworks when a Yank meets a German sibling on Australian roads
Bigger than a Cruze, slightly smaller than a Commodore, Holden’s Malibu will take on GM cousin, Opel’s Insignia
THE stage is set for a sibling spat between the Opel Insignia and the Holden Malibu.
The Australian arm ofGM has a handful of Malibu medium sedans now on the road for local suspension and steering calibration in the leadup to selling here next year.
Holden says its engineering team will finesse the local Malibu chassis as well as completing calibration work on the transmission for the Australian and overseas markets, something the Melbourne team has done for numerous globalGMproducts in the past.
‘‘ The suspension and steering tune is for us in Australia only. The transmission calibration is being used elsewhere,’’ says Holden spokeswoman Kate Lonsdale. ‘‘ We tend to do unique suspension work. Some of the dynamics and handling are for the local market.
‘‘ It’s going to compete in a quite different market segment (to the Insignia).’’
The two cars are similar in size but they will be quite different offerings, she says.
The development work on the Malibu— expected to go on sale in the middle of next year and seen as a direct competitor for the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord Euro— is being done at the company’s Lang Lang proving ground and on public roads in Victoria.
Holden integration and safety director Ian Butler says the local tailoring-to-taste of the Malibu by Holden’s engineers was of considerable benefit.
‘‘ 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 says.
‘‘ This is a fantastic global car but of course we want it (to go) on sale with plenty of Holden input to ensure it suits Australia’s unique and varied road conditions.’’
The Malibu is seen by many as more of a threat to Commodore, being just 38mm shorter overall, 45mm narrower but with a 177mm shorter wheelbase. It is already on sale in the US with a petrol-electric mild-hybrid version and several four-cylinder options.
The US-built medium sedan is part of Holden’s 2012 ‘‘ product renaissance’’, which includes the new Colorado, the dedicated LPG Commodore and Volt electric rangeextender vehicle.
Opel’s Michelle Lang says the Insignia chassis carries over its European suspension and steering tune, which will appeal to Australian driver tastes.
‘‘ We are taking the Eurospec suspension . . . standard and optional features will be as per our (local) requirements,’’ she says.
‘‘ We’re not premium, we’re high-quality German engineered and designed.
‘‘ The Insignia will be a highly specified vehicle.’’
Lookalike: Holden Malibu is a very close cousin to Opel Insignia