The preview of the Malibu follows the arrival of a number of new engineering prototypes in the country, as Holden continues its local tuning and validation work on the mid-sized sedan.
Initially scheduled to reach local showrooms before the end of this year, Holden's Kate Lonsdale confirmed the local brand pushed back the Malibu's launch by a few months to ensure the local engineering work delivers the best possible set-up.
The Holden Malibu will get a unique suspension tune with a ride and handling package developed specifically for Australian roads. Holden engineers are also responsible for fine-tuning the transmission calibrations for the local and global markets.
Work on the Malibu is being undertaken at Holden’s proving ground in Lang Lang and on public roads throughout Victoria.
Despite being officially classified as a medium car, the Malibu is only marginally smaller than the Holden Commodore large car. At 4859mm long, 1854mm wide, 1463mm tall and with a 2738mm wheelbase, the Malibu will be just 35mm shorter, 45mm narrower and 8mm lower than the Commodore, although its wheelbase trails the locally made family car by 177mm.
Holden is yet to confirm the Malibu’s powertrain line-up, although it will almost certainly be offered with an all-new 2.5-litre direct-injection four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 147kW of power and 259Nm of torque.
Other engines available in North America include a 136kW/233Nm 2.4-litre petrol that teams with mild hybrid technology for added fuel efficiency and a 193kW/353Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged motor in the Malibu Turbo, which is under consideration for Australia.
European markets will also get a 2.0-litre diesel option, potentially matching the output of the Cruze diesel at 120kW and 360Nm.
All engines will be paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Malibu will fill the hole in Holden’s range between the small Cruze and large Commodore left by the unpopular Epica sedan that was discontinued in 2011, finally giving Holden a serious competitor to the Toyota Camry, Mazda6, Honda Accord Euro and the Ford Mondeo.