Malibu vs the Insignia
THE stage is set for a sibling spat of sorts between the incoming Opel Insignia and the Holden Malibu.
The Australian arm of GM has a handful of pilotbuild Malibu medium sedans now on the road here for local suspension and steering calibration in the lead-up to going on sale here next year.
Holden says its engineering team will be putting together the local chassis tune, as well as completing calibration work on the transmission for the Australian and overseas markets, something the Melbourne-based engineering team has done for a number of global GM products prior to Malibu.
‘‘The suspension and steering tune is for us in Australia only, the transmission calibration is being used elsewhere, we tend to do unique suspension work, some of the dynamics and handling are for the local market,’’ says Holden spokesperson Kate Lonsdale.
‘‘It’s going to compete in a quite different market segment (to the Insignia), similar in size but they will be quite different offerings.’’
The development work on the Malibu— likely to go on sale mid 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 as well as on public roads in Victoria.
Holden integration and safety director Ian Butler says the local tailoring-totaste of the Malibu by Holden’s engineers was of considerable benefit.
‘‘Our engineers have paid close attention to the vehicles 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 to make sure that it goes 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 in overall length, 45mm narrower but sitting on a 177mm shorter wheelbase, the Malibu is already on offer in the US with a petrol-electric mildhybrid version in addition to several of the fourcylinder powerplants.
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 range-extender vehicle. Opel’s Michelle Lang says the Insignia will sit on a chassis that carries over its European suspension and steering tune, which will appeal to Australian driver tastes.
‘‘We are taking the Eurospec suspension, in terms of what is standard and optional features will be as per our requirements locally, but we’re not doing any tuning locally.’’
Ms Lang says the Opel brand is not being positioned as purely premium in the lead-up to going on sale in September.
‘‘We’re not premium, that’s not where we’re positioning ourselves, we’re high-quality German engineered and designed.
‘‘The Insignia will be a highly-specified vehicle.’’
Holden’s sleek Malibu is envisaged as a direct competitor to the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord Euro
The high-specced Euro-flavoured Opel Insignia will appeal to Aussie drivers too