Until now, Holden relied on the sub-standard Epica sedan which was based on the Daewoo Leganza that was introduced all the way back in 1997.
Holden talked up the South Korean-sourced Epica as a ‘Camry fighter’ when it was launched in 2007, but bland styling and the fact it was only available with in-line six-cylinder engines (which were mounted transversely), meant it fell dramatically short of challenge the mighty Toyota.
Holden is much more hopeful for the Malibu, which also comes from South Korea and is already on sale in the US, China and Europe, although it is not about to make any volume predictions.
The company presented the Malibu at today’s Australian international motor show and announced it will be available with both petrol and diesel engines.
Customers can choose from a 2.4-litre petrol four-cylinder and a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel.
It will only be available with a six-speed automatic transmission and no manual will be offered.
Holden president Mike Devereux said Holden engineers were involved in the development of the Malibu.
“Our team has created a unique suspension tune for Australia and developed Malibu’s transmission calibrations for multiple GM markets like Australia, Europe and North America,” he said.
The Malibu is not that much smaller than the Commodore, but Devereux said there was no concern that it would take sales away from the locally made model.
“It is a completely different car to Commodore,” he said.
“It is a bigger car and is a front-drive four-cylinder and Commodore is a rear-drive performance sedan so they can live in very different places. They are chalk and cheese.”
When asked by CarAdvice whether the Malibu could outsell the Commodore, Devereux said: “No idea.”
He also refused to indicate how many Malibus the company could sell.
“I’m not going to share our internal targets,” he said.