Mal­ibu vs the In­signia

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE -

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

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