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2013 Holden Malibu Review

Chris Miller road tests and reviews the 2013 Holden Malibu.

2013 Holden Malibu review

2013 Holden Malibu review.

There have been plenty of ordinary mid-size cars from Holden over the years. Nearly everyone would have already forgotten the Vectra, and as for the Epica; what was that? I hear you ask…

The Malibu is Holden’s best attempt yet at taking the fight to its competitors in the hotly contested mid-size segment. Sharp pricing with plenty of standard equipment, a good look and respectable South Korean build quality should endow the Malibu with enough to attract buyers to the Holden offering.

We had time in both the top spec $35,990 diesel Malibu CDX, and the $28,490 petrol CD variant, and neither is a bad car. The diesel cops a higher sticker price but returns an impressive 6.0 litres per 100km, while providing a torquey engine hooked up to a great six-speed auto box.  The same transmission is used in the 2.4 litre petrol four cylinder which does an excellent job, even if it is a bit thirstier; our average was 9.7 litres of standard unleaded per 100km.

The 2.0 litre German sourced diesel produces 117kw & 350Nm, and once the small amount of turbo lag is overcome, it provides plenty of punch. It is particularly clattery at start up, and you’re in no doubt you are driving a diesel at any time from within the cabin. It does seem to run out of puff when pushed beyond 4000rpm, but in normal day to day driving the surge of the turbo diesel is quite satisfying, as is the excellent fuel consumption.

The petrol 2.4 litre in the Holden Malibu produces 123kw & 225Nm and provides reasonable performance, even though it is hauling around 1580kg. The petrol engine is quiet and remarkably smooth all the way to the 6000rpm red line, and even though it does enjoy to drink more fuel than the diesel, it’s is the pick of the two power plants, particularly when you take into account it’s $4000 cheaper than its diesel sibling.

On the road, once again the petrol is the pick. With 76kg less over the front wheels it feels more nimble & agile. The diesel can’t quite carry the speed through the corners in the same way as the petrol version, but is still a competent handler. They both get a bit untidy if you really push, but the front end is well sorted in both, and predictable understeer is the only real complaint you’ll get from the Malibu if you’re going too hard.

The ride is great in the base CD model that sits on 17 inch alloys wrapped in 55 profile tyres, while the upper spec CDX still provides a comfortable ride, but the lower 45 profile tyres on the 18inch wheels more readily convey choppy roads into the cabin.

The cabin is a very grey place, but tasteful. The innovative lighting throughout adds a bit of spark, and the architecture of the dash is functional and attractive. The generous seats make it easy to get comfortable, and visibility is pretty good too.

2013 Holden Malibu review

2013 Holden Malibu review.

There is plenty of kit crammed into even the base model CD Malibu. Standard gear includes; Cruise Control, Automatic headlights, an easy to use multifunction steering wheel, a multifunction electronic driver information display featuring average fuel consumption & speed, distance to empty and instantaneous fuel consumption. There is a rear view camera and rear parking sensors, along with a 7’’ colour touch-screen showing audio information, climate info and outside temp that allk can be personalised to your liking.

Like most new Holden’s, the MyLink infotainment is standard fare in the Malibu & features smartphone app integration, and Bluetooth Handsfree calling & audio streaming pumped through a great 9-speaker sound system. As you’d expect, there is also a USB port with iPod® compatibility & an auxiliary input.

In addition, the top spec CDX receives heated leather seats with 8 way electrical operation, dual zone climate control, rain sensing wipers, L.E.D tail lights, dual chrome exhaust (on petrol only), ventilated front & rear disc brakes and the larger 18 inch alloys.

ANCAP have awarded the Malibu a 5-Star rating and you can expect a full suite of safety systems; Electronic Stability Control, ABS with brake assist & electronic braking distribution, a traction control system, side impact airbags & full length side curtain airbags, a collapsible pedal release system and an annoying electric park brake.

Whether in petrol or diesel, or in base model form, or the top of line CDX, the Malibu has everything required for success. It’s not a stand out car though. It gets the job one with the minimum of fuss, looks good and is great value, but to be honest, it’s bland.

If hassle free transport from A to B is what you need, go & a buy a Malibu, or a Camry for that matter, there’s not a lot of difference between the two, but if you’d like a bit more personality & soul from your wheels, check out the Mazda 6 or the Kia Optima, or Honda’s Accord…there’s plenty to choose from.

2013 Holden Malibu review

2013 Holden Malibu review.


Engines: 2.4 litre petrol four-cylinder developing 123kW and 225 Nm or 2.0 litre turbo-diesel four cylinder developing 110kW and 350Nm

Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic

Safety: Five stars

Warranty: 3yrs/100,000kms

Origin: South Korea

Price: From $28,490

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