Think of it as Chevrolet’s Camry: it’s a global General Motors model but very American in character.
Base price: $45,900.
Powertrain and performance: 2.4-litre petrol four, 123kW/225Nm, 6-speed automatic, front-drive, Combined economy 8.0 litres per 100km.
Vital statistics: 4865mm long, 1465mm high, luggage capacity 545 litres, fuel tank 73 litres, 18-inch alloy wheels.
We like: Refinement, equipment, attractive pricing.
We don’t like: Not entertaining in the least, cheesy cabin styling.
How it rates: 7/10
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
The Malibu is Holden’s new entrant in the medium segment. Think of it as Chevrolet’s Camry: it’s a global General Motors model but very American in character, sourced from Korea for Holden and unashamedly pitched at the fleet market.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
The Malibu makes no claims to be a sporty drive. It’s no Mazda6, for example. However, at $46 for our fully loaded CDX test car, it’s thousands of dollars cheaper as well.
What Malibu does aim to provide is excellent refinement and comfort and in those respects it succeeds. Noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels are very low for the segment and even on the 18-inch wheels of the flagship CDX, the Malibu rides well.
The steering is well-calibrated too – Holden claims to have modified the basic package for Australasian tastes – but it’s not a car you throw into tight corners with abandon. Even Holden describes it as “comfort oriented” and that it is.
There’s not a lot wrong with that – after all, not everybody’s interested in road-racing four-cylinder family sedans. But the 2.4-litre petrol engine is underwhelming, even with the benefit of a six-speed automatic gearbox.
There’s a diesel option too, which somewhat spoils the serenity by making a racket. But the Opel-sourced unit is still a strong one and gives the Malibu some much-needed powertrain character. It’s worth the premium.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH?
The Malibu is all about value and equipment. If that’s your thing too, then you’ll find it a pleasant companion.
Even the entry-level car is quite well-equipped, with climate air conditioning and Holden’s excellent MyLink touch-screen infotainment system. The CDX goes all the way with dual-zone air, leather upholstery and eight-way power adjustable seats with three-stage heating.
What Malibu does lack is design finesse. There are a couple of Camaro-inspired styling cues, including square surrounds for the main instruments and rectangular tail lights (with striking LED inserts on the CDX model). But the rest is generic Korean, especially the dashboard architecture with its faux-chrome trim and blue mood lighting.
SHOULD I BUY ONE?
Malibu makes a persuasive case on size (massive cabin, massive boot), value and equipment: in fact, you won’t find a better car in the medium segment when those three things are considered.
It’s also impressively refined and has a certain visual appeal. If you’re happy to lead a quiet life, Malibu should certainly be on the shopping list.
Air conditioning: Dual climate
Audio: MyLink touch screen infotainment system, iPod compatible
Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/yes
Blind spot warning: No
Cruise control: Yes
Driver footrest: Yes
Gas discharge headlights: No
Head-up display: No
Heated/ventilated seats: Yes/No
Keyless entry/start: Yes/Yes
Lane guidance: No
Leather upholstery: Yes
Parking radar: Yes with camera
Power boot or tailgate: No
Power seat adjustment/memory: Yes/No
Remote audio controls: Yes
Satellite navigation: No
Seat height adjustment: Yes
Self-parking technology: No
Split/folding rear seats: 60/40
Steering reach adjustment: Yes
Trip computer: Yes