Distinguished by a redesigned front end influenced by the new-generation Impala, the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu arrives just 18 months after the US introduction of the eighth-generation mid-sized sedan.
In December, General Motors CEO Dan Akerson admitted the earlier-than-expected facelift was motivated by slow initial sales and unfavourable reviews from North American automotive media.
Chevrolet global full-size and mid-size cars executive chief engineer Ken Kelzer said the early upgrade demonstrated the brand’s “unprecedented commitment to make the Malibu the best car it can be”.
The Malibu’s interior features new front seats with thinner seatbacks and greater scalloping, claimed to increase kneeroom for rear-seat passengers by 32mm.
A redesigned centre console features a longer armrest, a pair of cupholders and dedicated storage compartments for two mobile phones.
The Malibu headed for Australia looks set to miss out on the interior upgrades, however, with Holden spokesman Craig Cheetham admitting the car destined for our market is distinct from the US version and will not be affected by the updates at this stage.
Chevrolet says chassis and suspension updates contribute to a more refined ride. Rebound springs that are internal to the struts enable more refined calibration of the dampers, which the car maker says has allowed it to create a smoother ride, and improved body roll control and weight transfer during acceleration and cornering.
Cheetham reiterated Holden has developed its own unique suspension tune for the Malibu that will be sold locally.
The addition of a stop-start system to the standard 145kW/253Nm 2.5-litre direct-injection four-cylinder helps improve its city-cycle fuel consumption by five per cent, while a new engine calibration boosts torque from the 193kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine almost 14 per cent to 400Nm.
Neither engine will be offered in Australia, at least initially, however, with the Holden Malibu launching locally with 2.4-litre petrol and 2.0-litre turbo-diesel options.
Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert have been added to the list of available safety features, joining the 10 airbags and rear-view camera that are standard in the US-spec Malibu. It is unclear which of those features will be standard or available on the version destined to arrive in Australia via Korea.