Although the current Chevrolet Malibu is sold only in North America, Chevrolet says the midsize sedan's next generation will be a "world car," with the same version being sold across the globe. As a result, this month's Frankfurt Auto Show marked the sedan's debut in Europe, where it will join the Chevrolet lineup next year.
Originally revealed at the New York Auto Show in April, the 2013 Malibu is slightly smaller than its predecessor. The new sedan's wheelbase is 4.5 inches shorter, while its overall length is reduced by half an inch. While the smaller dimensions slightly decrease rear legroom, Chevrolet says the sedan benefits from increased width which keeps overall interior volume roughly similar.
On the outside, the Malibu receives a clean-sheet redesign and shares few lines with its predecessor. Only the sedan's distinctive grille - with one wide, body-colored bar sweeping between two mesh sections - carries over and clearly identifies it as a Chevy. Interior changes are widespread, though the new Malibu still uses standard GM switchgear, from its stereo and steering wheel to the door-mounted power window switches. One exciting new interior feature is a center console-mounted LCD screen, which can be lifted up to reveal a storage tray underneath.
A downsized engine lineup is also big news for the 2013 Malibu. While today's model features a choice between four- and six-cylinder engines, the 2013 Malibu offers only a 190-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder, which will undoubtedly increase the sedan's average fuel economy. In the States, a six-speed automatic will be the only available transmission, though we wouldn't be surprised to see a manual roll out for the European market.
The Malibu will help Chevrolet break ground in Europe, where the brand is less well known than at home. While Ford is globally recognized under the "Ford" brand name, General Motors' global presence includes brands like Vauxhall, Opel and Holden, which often share no exact vehicles from GM's US lineup. While that means GM will face an uphill battle by introducing the Chevrolet brand worldwide, new products like the 2013 Malibu will likely help.
Pricing for the 2013 Malibu has not yet been set by Chevrolet, who also chose the Frankfurt Auto Show to release a concept version of its all-new Colorado pickup. While the new Colorado Rally Concept will likely undergo major changes before reaching production, its European debut signals GM's further intent to grow the Chevrolet brand overseas.
See more coverage of the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show.
|JEFFREY ARCHER is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.|