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GM ups Malibu ante with 2.0 turbo

Turbo treat: GM will slot a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine into its all-new global Malibu mid-sizer later this year.

Australia waits as GM confirms 2.0-litre turbo for all-new global Malibu mid-sizer

Holden logo27 Jan 2012

GENERAL Motors has confirmed its new-generation global Chevrolet Malibu medium-sized sedan – to be sold in Australia as a Holden in about 12 months’ time – will add a potent 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine to its range later this year.

In a move that should provide Malibu with a weapon to match circa-200kW sports mid-sizers such as the 2.0T Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima – as well as an answer to Ford’s 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine in the forthcoming redesigned Mondeo/Fusion – GM confirmed the expanded powertrain line-up last week in a press release to mark the first deliveries of the vehicle to US dealers.

These first North American Malibus are fuel-saving ‘Eco’ mild-hybrid versions offering a 134 kW 2.4-litre direct-injection engine (combined with a 15kW motor-generator), with a new 141kW 2.5-litre Ecotec engine arriving around mid-2012 – “followed by an all-new Ecotec 2.0-litre turbo engine”.

Details of the new engine remain under wraps, however it is expected to be a version of the 2.0 turbo from the all-new rear-drive Cadillac ATS unveiled at the recent Detroit motor show.

13 center imageLeft: Chevrolet Malibu, Cadillac ATS and Ford Fusion.

As GoAuto has reported, preliminary specifications show the all-aluminium 16-valve DOHC 2.0-litre turbo engine, which also benefits from direct injection and continuously variable valve timing, will produce 201kW of power at 5300rpm and 353Nm of torque from 2400rpm.

It is unclear whether the (front-drive) Malibu’s version of the force-fed 2.0-litre will be detuned to compete on equal terms with Ford’s 177kW 2.0-litre EcoBoost that will be a high-volume player in the forthcoming new Mondeo/Fusion, or left at around 200kW to match the more big-ticket niche propositions such as the Hyundai-Kia turbo twins.

Both scenarios are possible, with Ford also anticipated to up the ante before long with a higher-performance version of the Fusion.

Holden is yet to announce the powertrain line-up for the all-new (front-drive) Malibu, which is a global vehicle and will be manufactured in South Korea for our market.

North American versions are built at GM’s Fairfax plant in Kansas City, to be joined by GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck factory later in the year.

The new Malibu is already on sale in Korea and will arrive in dealerships in China by the end of the first quarter.

Ford will introduce the redesigned Mondeo around the same time as Holden launches Malibu – early 2013, at this stage – and is also still to confirm details, but the 2.0 EcoBoost (currently at 149kW, but to be upgraded with the new generation) is virtually guaranteed to continue on in the redesigned model.

Significantly, Ford has also developed a 1.6-litre EcoBoost for the new Fusion/Mondeo, which could put pressure on GM to answer the call with a smaller-displacement engine of its own, particularly if the 1.6 proves to be a winner for the Blue Oval brand.

The diesel powertrain line-up for both models is still to be revealed, as are other body styles, such as the expected wagon and, possibly, two-door derivatives.

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