So we got a new Chevrolet Malibu
There was a time when General Motors poured all their resources into developing full-size 4x4s such as the Chevy Tahoe. The U.S. operation had pretty much sidelined the sedan market, churning out midsizers so embarrassingly bad that they turned to their Australian and Korean outfits when it came time to expand the GCC line-up. But as Americans started to give up their ever-hungry trucks for fuel-efficient cars, the General came up with the all-new “award-winning” Chevy Malibu.
The Malibu nameplate was last seen in the UAE half-a-decade ago, not that anyone here remembers, although it did continue in the States. It is back here again, skipping a generation, and finally on level footing with the Japanese competition, maybe even better in some aspects.
The front end incorporates the most attractive form of the Chevy grille yet, and the best implementation of the big-mouth look made popular in recent years among various manufacturers.
For one thing, it looks stunningly upscale for something that competes against the Camry and the Accord. Those 18-inch alloys are standard, and that low-slung roofline resists the latest fad to make cars taller.
The V6 version is identified by its dual exhaust tips. The rear end is fairly unique, even if some may see hints of other cars in it. Check out the chrome number-plate holder.
In fact, the car is littered with chrome, more so than maybe even a Cadillac. Door handles, window frames, and even the little side-marker lights have chrome surrounds.
The cabin is more stylish than anything in this class, especially in our orange-black trim. The fair use of soft-touch materials is appreciated, although the finishing inside and out could’ve been a wee bit better. But ultimately everything is solid, maybe even more so than in the examples we drove back in June.
Interesting features include the dual paddles on the steering wheel, a strong USB-ready stereo, and the chromed gauge clusters. One of the buttons on the wheel hints at a Bluetooth phone, but we couldn’t figure out how to activate it, and our test car only came with an Arabic manual. Incidentally, the manual refers to the car as a 2009 model, although we assumed its a 2010, considering its late October launch.
We later found out that it doesn’t come with Bluetooth. The radio reception for faraway stations isn’t too great. The digital a/c is strong, but apparently a dual-zone function is not available either. A Nissan Altima does it all better.
The supple leather seats have decent bolstering up front. The driver’s is fully powered, while the passenger’s only has a powered bottom. The seats even have a heater function, for those days when you find yourself, and your car, stranded in Ski Dubai. The centre console storage area is useful, with a sliding cover over the cup-holders and a deep cubby under the armrest.
Rear legroom is very good, though likely not as spacious as the oversized Honda Accord. The lack of a pull-down central armrest means the rear cup-holders pop out near the floor instead, where we would’ve expected the missing rear a/c vents to be.
The luggage boot is impressively long, but relatively shallow for its class. However, the struts don’t encroach on the space, like the cheap gooseneck hinges do in a Toyota Camry.
The new ‘Bu is a good effort by GM, does some things very well, while overlooking others. But we loved its upscale design inside and out, and we are sure some on the street thought we were cruising in a luxury sedan. As you’ll read in our upcoming review, it sure drives like one.