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New York show: Chevrolet Malibu steps out – and up

Malibu beached: The latest and – potentially – greatest Chevrolet Malibu looks likely to miss the boat for Australia.

New Chevrolet Malibu in doubt for Australia as GM Holden considers options

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Chevrolet logo1 Apr 2015

GENERAL Motors has unveiled its all-new Malibu at the New York motor show ahead of the mid-sized sedan’s North American roll-out later this year, but Holden will not say if the new model has a future in Australia.

The Holden silence on the thoroughly revamped Malibu – which some have suggested might provide the basis for a Commodore replacement – is in stark contrast to its warm and public welcome for the new Spark micro hatchback that surfaced at the same show.

Ranked just 10th in the medium-car segment with a mere 1635 sales in Australia last year, the South Korean-built Malibu has not been the Camry buster that Holden hoped, and it now seems a candidate for the chop as the Australia arm of GM swings towards Opel-sourced products such as the Insignia.

Asked if Holden would take the new-generation Malibu, the company issued this statement: “We continuously review all potential products that may suit the Australian market, but have no announcements at this time.

“Holden is committed to leveraging GM’s global product portfolio to provide the best vehicles for our customers.”

When later asked if the Malibu was a possible Commodore replacement once the Australian-built large car goes out of production in 2017, no reply was received.

In the latest, ninth-generation Malibu for America, GM appears to have addressed many of the car’s shortcomings by delivering more rear seat room courtesy of a stretched wheelbase that is 91mm longer than before, while also slicing fuel consumption with a 136kg weight saving and new powertrainsNew engines start with a 119kW 1.5-litre turbo-charged petrol four-cylinder – one of a global family of new small-displacement engines that cranks out more power while delivering up to 8.0 per cent better fuel economy by adding technologies such as idle-stop and active grille shutters.

The current Malibu’s mild-hybrid unit has been ditched in favour of a serious parallel hybrid system that mates an all-new direct-injection 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine to a two-motor drive unit from Chevrolet’s range-extender Volt.

Together, the hybrid’s engine and motors provide 136kW of peak power while drinking just 5.2 litres of petrol per 100km, bettering rival hybrids in Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion and Hyundai Sonata.

In all, three engines will be available in Malibu, with a high-performance 186 kW 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder the pick for performance-car buyers. For the first time in a GM front-wheel-drive car, an eight-speed automatic transmission will be offered, but only with the 2.0T (the 1.5 gets a six-speeder).

Included in the new technology is an anti-hoon Teen Driver device that sounds warnings if pre-determined speeds are exceeded and allows parents to keep tabs on how the car has been driven by a son or daughter, using the MyLink system.

And – only in America – the radio is muted when occupants do not fasten their seatbelt.

Safety equipment includes 10 airbags, reversing camera, front pedestrian alert, lane-departure warning, blind spot warning, forward-collision alert and rear cross-traffic alert,Adaptive cruise control with autonomous braking and automatic parking system are also available.

While the new Malibu is all new for North America and perhaps elsewhere, the Chinese version is about to get a facelift of the current generation.

As GoAuto reported, the Chinese Malibu was revised in Australia by GM Holden and will be unveiled at the Shanghai motor show on April 20.

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