GM steps up – a new Mal­ibu

It’ll ar­rive here with a Holden badge on it, mean­while War­ren Brown has driven one in the United States.

South Waikato News - - SPORT -

THE 2013 Chevro­let Mal­ibu is faith re­warded. It proves that ex­cel­lence in au­to­mo­tive en­gi­neer­ing and de­sign can be found in any car com­pany, in­clud­ing Gen­eral Mo­tors.

It is a sim­ple faith: Most of us can step up af­ter we’ve messed up.

Gen­eral Mo­tors, maker of all things Chevro­let, has stepped up. The proof is in the prod­uct – the 2013 Chevro­let LTZ front-wheel-drive sedan.

This is the eighth gen­er­a­tion of the Mal­ibu, a car whose name is de­rived from the swanky Cal­i­for­nia beach­front town. But since its in­cep­tion in 1978, the Mal­ibu has been any­thing but swanky.

It’s been an also-ran, a renter car, a this’ll do. It’s been clob­bered in the mar­ket­place by other mid-size sedan favourites: The Toy­ota Camry and Honda Ac­cord and, lately, the Ford Fu­sion aka Mon­deo.

The Mal­ibu mostly has been re­li­able. But re­li­a­bil­ity alone is not an ad­e­quate cus­tomer draw. A mo­torised cel­e­bra­tion of the or­di­nary, the Mal­ibu did not have the swag­ger to com­pete. Con­sider that his­tory. In ex­te­rior sculp­ture and in­te­rior ap­peal, the 2013 Mal­ibu looks bet­ter than the Toy­ota Camry and the new Honda Ac­cord. It has a more ag­gres­sive stance. That’s not ag­gres­sive as in bully. The new Mal­ibu sim­ply seems more like­able, more con­fi­dent, and very proud of what it is, an af­ford­able, at­trac­tive fam­ily sedan. It is more con­cerned about safety, over­all qual­ity, com­fort and fuel econ­omy than it is about mov­ing from zero to 100kmh in record time.

That means not ev­ery­one will like it. Equipped with its stan­dard 2.5-litre, in­line four-cylin­der petrol en­gine (140kilo­watts, 260 New­ton me­tres of torque), the new Mal­ibu can feel like a slug if you are try­ing to blitz from a stop­light in nanosec­onds. My av­er­age zero-to-100kmh time was nine sec­onds. Maybe that’s just me.

None of that really mat­ters in re­al­world driv­ing, any­way. Traf­fic in the Washington area, where I spent most of my time with the Mal­ibu LTZ, seemed for­ever con­gested. By the time I con­sis­tently moved at 100kmh in any di­rec­tion, the car was hum­ming along.

That is, I was hum­ming. The Mal­ibu LTZ is su­per-quiet, I won­der if GM got car­ried away with sound-dead­en­ing en­gi­neer­ing. I could barely hear any out­side noises – and ab­so­lutely no squeaks or rat­tles sit­ting in the Mal­ibu cabin.

The Mal­ibu truly hon­ours its ge­o­graph­i­cal name­sake. It’s pretty. It’s swank with leather seats, two-tone if you like, with pip­ing and con­trast stitch­ing; sub­tle blue mood light­ing en­cir­cling the car’s in­te­rior at night; one of the mid-size car seg­ment’s most ap­peal­ing in­stru­ment pan­els, high­lighted by a touch screen us­ing Chevro­let’s trade­marked MyLink com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy.

Through voice com­mands or touch-screen con­trols, you can use MyLink in the US, to tune into Stitcher Smart Ra­dio or Pan­dora, lis­ten to com­mer­cial­free ra­dio on Sir­ius XM (the Mal­ibu comes with a three­month trial sub­scrip­tion) or in­stall your own mu­sic us­ing a flash drive or MP3 player via a USB port.

This, fi­nally, is a no-ex­cuses Chevro­let Mal­ibu, eas­ily com­pet­i­tive with any­thing in its size seg­ment or price cat­e­gory, and it will be in Aus­tralia and New Zealand later this year.

NUTS&BOLTS

Ride, ac­cel­er­a­tion and han­dling: Ride and han­dling are very good. Ac­cel­er­a­tion is slow for peo­ple who be­lieve that ev­ery start-from-stop is a con­test. But it’s per­fectly fine for the rest of us.

En­gine/ trans­mis­sion: Stan­dard 2.5-litre, 16-valve in­line four-cylin­der en­gine with vari­able valve tim­ing with a six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion that can also be shifted man­u­ally. More pow­er­ful en­gines: a tur­bocharged, 2-litre, with 191kW and 353Nm and a 3-litre V-6 are avail­able in the US.

Ca­pac­ity: Seats for five peo­ple. Cargo ca­pac­ity is 462 litres with the seats up. The fuel tank holds 71 litres of petrol. Reg­u­lar grade is rec­om­mended.

Mileage: In real-world driv­ing with the 2.5- litre en­gine, we av­er­aged 9.4L/100km in the city and 7.8L/100km on the high­way.

Safety: Stan­dard equip­ment in­cludes four-wheel disc brakes, anti-lock brake pro­tec­tion; avail­able elec­tronic sta­bil­ity and track­ing con­trol; emer­gency brak­ing as­sis­tance; elec­tronic brake-force distri­bu­tion; front, side and cur­tain air bags.

Price: The New Zealand start­ing point for the car is likely to be about NZ$42,000.

– Washington Post

Mal­ibu: named af­ter a beach but it’s no whale.

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