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.
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.
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.