Holden is doing its absolute best to stay afloat when it comes to locally produced cars. The VF Commodore is a fantastic vehicle which should sell in large numbers, but for the fact that for some reason Aussie consumers just seem to be seeking something different.  Outside of SUV’s Holden has also opted to introduce the another rebadged global GM car into our market, and EFTM recently got its hands on one example. The Chevrolet/Holden Malibu.

Holden Malibu

Holden Malibu

The 10 Minute Test Drive

I’ll be honest, the very second I heard about the arrival of the Malibu I’d already made my mind up. I thought that this undoubtedly would be another Epica, which really was an epic fail. I was so, so wrong.

The Malibu is an impressive looking vehicle; it’s larger than its ‘medium’ category status would dictate. It shares some blatant styling cues with the home-grown VF Commodore and it’s a far better sort than a Camry.

Holden Malibu

Holden Malibu

Piloting the Malibu is also a pleasing experience. It’s some way off being a class leader in the interior stakes but there’s just enough bling to get it over the line. If anything it feels like an upmarket Cruze. Be it the range topping leather clad CDX or its poorer cousin CD there’s little to be critical about.

It’s a solid drive with direct well balanced steering, capable chassis control and adequate performance from the petrol and diesel units on offer.

Ins and outs.

EFTM sampled the CDX Diesel and CD petrol models.

The flagship Opel sourced 2.0L DOHC 4-cylinder common-rail turbo diesel is no match up against European rivals. It’s a no thrills experience, providing little satisfaction. Thankfully the figures of 117kW / 350Nm provide just enough punch to lug the Malibu around comfortably.

Holden Malibu

Holden Malibu

The CD 2.4L DOHC 4-cylinder petrol engine is also no pearler. Both models produce a chirp from the front driven wheels when planted from a standing start, which for some enthusiasts may prove a little annoying.

The Malibu does earn a round of applause when it comes to equipment.

Holden’s excellent MyLink infotainment system comes standard via a 7 inch colour display. The system is simply one of the best presented, user friendly interfaces around. Although personally I’m yet to really appreciate its Pandora and Stitcher radio capabilities.

Steering wheel mounted controls are as found in the new VF Commodore. The wheel itself is the perfect diameter and size. The colour multifunction display behind the wheel sits between two squared speedometer and tachometer dials. The upper portion of the driver’s dash area is capped off with a leather look piece of trim.

Holden Malibu

Holden Malibu

The waterfall centre stack is not too dissimilar to that found in the Cruze. The dash itself is dissected by curved gills that at night are illuminated by a cool blue lighting effect.

Standard features are quite bountiful including; dusk sensing headlamps, Bluetooth with streaming, cruise control, heated exterior mirrors, rear view camera, rear parking sensors, air conditioning with climate control, a decent 9 speaker sound system, and passive entry with start and sensor key technology. Although don’t expect a full sized spare, a tyre sealant and compressor kit comes as standard. But you do score a larger boot than that found in a Commodore.

Over the base CD model, CDX badged Malibu’s earn, 18 inch alloy wheels, chrome door highlights, fog lights, great looking LED rear brake lamps, leather seats (the front are heated), leather gear shifter and steering wheel, rain sensing wipers, and dual zone electronic climate control.

It should be noted that the steering feel of the diesel juxtaposed with the petrol is dramatically different. The former displaying a real lightness, the latter a more direct sturdy feel. This is due to the diesel using hydraulics rather than the electric system of the petrol example.

A 6-speed transmission across the range is unobtrusive and flicks through the cogs smoothly. The only annoyance being the active select capability. Shifting manually is performed by dropping back into ‘M’ mode and then requiring fingering a + or – switch on top of the shifter. An ergonomics fail!

Bragging rights

As mentioned EFTM really believe the Malibu is an attractive proposition visually. The rear end is almost a dead ringer for the VF Commodore. Its poise is lower than the Commodore giving it a more striking profile.
It does turn heads, and there would be no shame having one parked in the driveway.

Holden Malibu

Holden Malibu

Lasting Impression

Your guess is as good as ours when it comes to how long the Malibu will hang around. In an already crowded market it will certainly be treading water early on. But do yourself a favour and test drive one. It’s doesn’t deserve to sink below the motoring water surface.

The Hip Pocket

As with most diesels you can expect some seriously good figures. We averaged 6.3L/100km better than the claimed 6.4L/100Km. Admittedly we did do a fair amount of highway cruising.

The unleaded sipper was less than impressive; a 10.0L/100km figure is possible if used as a stop / start runabout.
The full range kicks off with the CD petrol at $28,490. Followed by the CDX petrol $31,990, CD diesel $32,490 and topping out at $35,990 for the CDX diesel.

The EFTM Rubber Stamp

It may be time to get used to the concept of rebadged global GM cars. If the Malibu is anything to go by at least Holden will have access to competitive, quality offerings that deserve more than a passing glance.

The Holden Malibu earns the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp

The Holden Malibu earns the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp

The Holden Malibu earns the EFTM Rubber Stamp!

[schema type=”review” rev_name=”Holden Malibu” rev_body=”Better than you’d expect and punching well above its weight, this one is well worth the test drive” author=”Chris Bowen” pubdate=”2013-08-20″ user_review=”4″ min_review=”0″ max_review=”5″ ]