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GM to rush out Chevy Malibu tweaks

Mid-way: The Malibu will launch in Australia with Holden badges in third quarter of 2013, where it will sit between the Cruze and Commodore.

Chevrolet Malibu sedan in for some early updates, though possibly not for Australia

18 Jan 2013

GENERAL Motors is planning to revive sales of its new Chevrolet Malibu mid-sized sedan in North America with an accelerated model refresh that will address gripes over its tight rear seat room, according to Bloomberg.

The story quotes two GM insiders as saying the updated car would also get front-end styling cues from the larger Chevrolet Impala when it hit US showrooms in the third quarter of this year.

It is unclear how GM will improve the tight rear-seat space – if indeed the report is correct – but it is unlikely to make any changes to the car’s platform. Rather, the company might engineer slimmer seats to yield marginally more rear legroom.

The Holden-badged Malibu is expected to debut in Australia in the third quarter of 2013 – around the same time as the facelift is expected to launch in the US.

Holden external communications director Craig Cheetham told GoAuto initial Malibu deliveries would not feature any running changes and would be the current version of the car.

“There’s less to it than you think in what it will be,” he said. “There’s certainly some running changes, but there’s no facelift, certainly not for the car we’re getting.”

GM chief executive officer Dan Akerson told US publication Automotive News earlier this year that Malibu’s “mid-life enhancement” would hit the US by late 2013, less than two years after the car’s launch and more than one year earlier than is typical in the industry.

GM senior vice president of global product development Mary Barra said at this week’s Detroit motor show that the company had “some tweaks that we’ve made, that we already had planned, that will be coming out in the not-too-distant future that I think will assist”.

Malibu sales in the US in 2012 trailed rivals including the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion and Hyundai Sonata/i45.

In Australia, the front-drive Malibu will slot into the Holden range beneath the locally made Commodore, replacing the discontinued Epica sedan. While US versions are made in Detroit, Australian Malibus are expected to be built in South Korea.

As reported, the Holden version will feature an Australia-specific suspension tune following local testing, and a choice of 2.4-litre petrol or 2.0-litre turbo diesel engines matched exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission.

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