Holden Malibu CDX 2013 Review

Holden Malibu CDX 2013 Review

Pleasantly surprised is what I was when I finally got in the Malibu. I had just been too busy to refresh myself with what the Malibu is all about and in my mind I was thinking is was (but hoping it wouldn’t be) a direct replacement for the decidedly average Epica. The Epica was quite a dreary car that we tested back in 2008 and the Malibu is anything but.

holden-malibu-cdx-2013-rqTaking a walk around the outside, there are some long lines that make this car look sleek. A rebadged Chevrolet Malibu, Holden bills it as a mid-sized car, but it gives the impression of being a large car. It’s also got that slight nose forward stance that delivers a bit of a sporty aura, and you can add those square afterburner taillights (á la Camaro) in to the design mix and you’ve got a rear end that’s visually distinct. There’s even a hint of BMW at the rear if you look from the side.

holden-malibu-cdx-2013-dashboardOn the inside, the 7-inch MyLink touchscreen dominates the dashboard. The MyLink system comes with Bluetooth connectivity and built-in app technology – think streaming radio, for example – and the screen doubles as the display for the reversing camera and general vehicle controls. The screen itself conceals a convenient cubby hole for a bit of extra dashboard storage.

Storage in the boot is 545l. The boot is long and not that deep, and perhaps slightly compromised by the 73-litre fuel tank (usually you’d get 60-65 litres in a mid-sized car). The long boot eats into the rear legroom. Rear legroom is not cramped, but it’s not as good as, say, a Honda Accord.

Motive power for our test car is a 2-litre turbodiesel; you can get a 2.4-litre petrol motor in the CD version. It produces 117kW and 350Nm which gives a decent level of acceleration and plenty of open road cruising and overtaking ability. The sound deadening in the Malibu is quite good, so you don’t notice it’s a diesel.

holden-malibu-cdx-2013-interiorLike the Commodore, the Malibu seems to wrap up around you giving a sense of protection. It does come with the usual swag of safety features – electronic stability control (ESC), six airbags, traction control system (TCS), anti-lock braking system (ABS), brake assist (BA) and a 5-star ANCAP crash test rating.

The name Malibu conjures up images of cruising down the waterfront, top down, pumping some tunes. Apart from the fact that the Malibu isn’t a convertible, you probably wouldn’t want anyone to hear the tunes because the speaker system is the only weak point in the car. It’s billed as a 9-speaker premium system, but it’s unfortunately a mess of mid-range frequencies and you can’t fix it with the EQ either. In its defence, I will admit that I got used to it enough to tolerate it, but it could be better.

honda-jazz-hybrid-2013-rear-seatsDriving dynamics are neutral. It’s not a stand-out in the corners, but neither is it slouchy. It’ll happily cruise fairly quietly and economically at motorway speeds (Holden quotes 6.5l/100km combined; you’re more likely to see mid-8s if my driving is anything to go by). Pitch it into the corners and you know it’s not a sports car, even though the 245/45R18 wheels do hold on well, but if you’re buying the Malibu you are probably looking for a ride that’s more on the comfortable side.

The pricing is sharp. I expected it to be above $50,000 after driving it, but it’s sitting a full $1600 under. You’ll also get a 3-year/100000km warranty and 3-year roadside assistance. Usually, for a mid-sized sedan I’d pull the Mazda6 LTD out of the hat and say that it is currently the best out there for the money, but it’s a lot more expensive at $60,795 than the Malibu CDX and, while it is definitely a nicer car, it’s pushing it to say it’s $12,000 nicer. The Malibu manages to pull together a package that looks and feels like more than you’re paying for.

Price: $48,400

Pros

  • Interesting styling
  • Feels coherent
  • Sharp pricing

Cons

  • Average speakers

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