CHEVROLET (chevelle) malibu

 

When the first Chevelle was released in autumn 1963, Dodge/Plymouth, erroneously thinking that the days of the big cars for main street buyers were over, preceded this in-between sized car already two years earlier, with Dodge regarding it as its ‘lean breed’ full size car, adding a ‘real’ full size model later in the 1962 model year, and Plymouth doing so only by 1965, while Ford invented the ‘intermediate’ with the (115.5-inch wheelbase) 1962 Fairlane, ‘a foot shorter than the big ones’, giving ‘big car room, ride, quality and performance with compact-car handling and economy’. 

Taxicab drivers in the United States realized at once that this size was big enough to fulfill their duties, after the regular sized models had outgrown in the second half of the 1950s, and Dodge Coronets on a 117-inch wheelbase were popular taxis in the second half of the 1960s.  Only when Chevrolet had their full size models downsized to a 116-inch wheelbase by 1977, forced by the Saudis, Chevrolet would become a major player again in the taxi field.  When the days of the big cars for were really over in autumn 1973, Dodge had just released its new 5.60 meter long full size cars, matching those of Chevrolet.

With a 115-inch wheelbase, the Chevelle had a similar size as the 1955 Chevrolet, and used a separate chassis, avoiding restyling limitations inherent with the unit-body design of the previous years’ Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac senior compacts, which now would share their basic interior design with the Chevelle, but with diverged outer panels , whereas the 1963 models all shared their front doors.  After the 1963 Opel Rekord, the Chevelle (and its corporation cousins) was the second GM car to feature curved side windows, giving the car a more flowing shape, and enabling to use thinner doors, increasing the shoulder room.

The Chevelle ate sales from the Chevy II and Corvair, not from the full size Chevrolets, indicating that the public still liked the big cars as before.  The (downsized) full size cars would be beaten only by 1980, due to decreased oil output in the wake of the Iranian Revolution.  The more luxury Chevelle Malibu (named after a beach city near Los Angeles) outsold the lesser Chevelle 300 series. 

The 1964 Chevelle 4-door sedan also became a common sight in continental Europe, where it was assembled in various body styles in Belgium, Switzerland and Denmark.  In that year, it was probably the fifth most produced car in the world (incl. the rebadged Acadian Beaumont, sold at Canadian Pontiac dealers in lieu of the Pontiac Tempest/Le Mans).  Other assembling locations were in Mexico, Peru, Chile, Venezuela and the Philippines.  Right-hand-drive models were assembled in South Africa (2,000 per year incl. Beaumont, till 1969). 

In the USA, the 2-door hardtop coupe was the most popular body style among the Chevelle models, outselling the sedans, a trend initiated when sport coupes were added to the senior compact Buick Special (Skylark), Oldsmobile F-85 (Cutlass) and Pontiac Tempest (Le Mans) in May 1961 (the Buick Skylark coupe/hardtop would outsell the Special sedan only by 1965).  Different from the other GM intermediates, there was no Chevelle fixed pillar coupe (until 1968); instead there was a 2-door sedan. 

The full size models for 1965 also sold the most units in their tempting 2-door hardtop form.  Growing bigger, the Chevelle Malibu exceeded the 5 meter length, when it adopted a less restrained body shape with raised rear wheel openings and hip up for 1966.  This Chevelle in hardtop coupe form is among the finest design achievements of GM, increasing its share from four to six out of every ten.  There were six body styles to choose from.

All-new, now on two wheelbases, the Chevelle continued with the traditional body styles for 1968, and new sheet metal again for 1970.  The 1973 Chevelle got the pillared frameless door glass body style because of expected safety rules, losing its hardtops and convertibles, and was downsized to a 108-inch wheelbase by 1978, skipping the ‘Chevelle’ name, and making the 4-door sedan the most popular body style now.  The Malibu would interrupt its career in 1983, after the release of the fwd Celebrity.

The Malibu was revived in autumn 1996 as a unibody front-wheel-drive car on an extended N-platform, as a replacement for the Corsica, and then renewed in 2003 on the 270 cm Epsilon platform, shared with the Opel/Vauxhall Vectra C sedan (Maxx hatchbacks had a longer wheelbase, even longer than the Opel/Vauxhall Vectra C wagon and Signum), and again renewed and stretched for 2008.  These last two generations of American Malibus were imported to China in limited quantities, the latter was the first GM hybrid model on the Chinese market (in January 2008). 

Forty-eight years after its first release, the 10th 2012 Malibu (counting in the 1966 and 1970 model year body shape revisions) would play its international role again, in North America, South Korea and China, and for a short time also in Europe and Australia/New Zealand.  Compared with its American predecessor, it was a bit smaller, also to make room for the 2014 Impala.  The previous Malibu stood on a wheelbase, which was 1.8 inch longer than that of the roomier Impala of that period, which was prolongated as Impala Limited until 2016.  This Malibu was sold for fleet use in the USA for another half year, after the new one had arrived in spring 2012.

Chevrolet Malibu (V300) South Korea: November 2011, China (E12/E17) until April 2019

The V300 designation refers to the South Korean built model, succeeding on the (GM) Daewoo Magnus (V200) (itself succeeding on V100 Leganza and Rekord E descendant Brougham) and Tosca (V250), sold as Chevrolet Evanda/Epica in the export, with 6-cylinder gasoline or 4-cylinder diesel engines.  In China, only 4-cylinder gasoline models were sold.  The Epica’s main market had been China with 250,000 sales, then South Korea (almost 100,000) and Europe incl. Russia (20,000), Australia/New Zealand (10,000), Uzbekistan (9,500), and the Middle East (2,000).  Epicas were built in South Korea through 2012, and in China through 2014.  When the Chevrolet marque was introduced in South Korea in March 2011, the GM Daewoo Tosca was deleted, selling some 5,000 in 2010, and the succeeding Malibu arrived here in November 2011, as first in the world, followed by China in February 2012, then USA in spring.  Members of Malibu-related internet clubs totalled about 30,000 in web-minded South Korea, despite the fact that the midsize sedan has never been officially sold in the country.  In the Mid East, the Malibu succeeded also on the Lumina, Holden Commodore based. 

This well styled car was ‘Chevrolet’s first global midsize sedan designed and engineered to provide customers from Shanghai to New York and Sydney to Sao Paulo’.  It is on the (short) Epsilon II platform, initiated with the Opel Insignia/Buick Regal.  The styling was done in the USA with the hip up under the C-pillar reminiscent of the exciting 1960s models.  Regular exports to Brazil didn’t materialize, as the previous Malibu sold there, wasn’t a success, but it was sold in Peru, imported from South Korea.  In Africa, it was available in Egypt.  The Malibu was not sold in the United Kingdom.  Apart from the Holden Malibu, right-hand-drive Malibus were built for countries like Malaysia, Brunei and Fiji.  Such models were not built since the 1970s, when a country as Japan imported left-hand-drive models.

This Malibu was conceived as a four-cylinder-only car, though a V6 3.0 model was available in Middle East and central Asian markets, sourced from South Korea.  When the car was launched in China in February 2012, it used the then two-year old Gen II 6T45 automatic transmission, developed by North American General Motors, Shanghai GM and GM Daewoo Korea, improving fuel consumption with 2 to 2.5%, and implemented in the South Korean Malibu for 2013, and the American Malibu for 2014.  Most 4-cylinder models have electric power steering, but diesel and V6 types use a hydraulic system.

Preceding the regular model a half year, the car was released in North America as Malibu Eco with 2.4 engine and eAssist.  After another year, the regular 2.5 engine achieved the same fuel economy without it, using stop/start technology and variable valve lift control and the new six-speed automatic transmission.  An updated grille was presented for North America at the same time, influenced by the new Impala, while the rear knee room (0.8 inch less, as compared with the previous Malibu) improved by 1.25 inch and the cargo volume with 2 cubic feet (56 liter), up 14%.  The American model was also exported to Israel from April 2013 with the 2.0-litre turbo engine.  The 2016 facelift of the Chinese prolongation of this generation, is said to have been carried out by Holden in Australia.  The Holden Malibu itself had its own grille, as had the Holden Cruze, and stopped, when the next Malibu went into production in South Korea.

Production of the V300 in South Korea was some 30,000 units annually in the first years with exports to Europe (3,800 with sales weakening in the first half of 2014), Australia/New Zealand (intro mid-2013 with 1,635 sales in Australia in 2014), Asia and the Middle East, vs some 200,000 annually in the United States, and more than 100,000 in China.  Sales in South Korea were well over 10,000 in 2012 and 2013, and almost 19,000 in 2014, after the launch of the diesel there in March 2014 and an LPG two months before.  The alloy 2.0 and 2.4 naturally aspirated engines initially came from China, where they were three years earlier introduced in the Buick Regal with the same chassis dimensions as the Malibu.  When the SKD assembling in Uzbekistan stopped by 2016, this meant the end of the manual gearbox for the Malibu.

While the next generation Malibu arrived by 2016 in North America, the old generation was sold next to the new one as ‘Malibu Limited’ for one year, and in China for three years until 2019.  Being 15,000 yuan cheaper, the old generation outsold the new ‘XL’ (179,900 yuan) on a basis of three vs two, until it stopped production in February 2019 after more than seven years, when the E-tec 3-cylinder 1.3 became the entry-level engine in the Malibu XL, then priced 10,000 yuan below the previous generation at 154,900 yuan, still on offer in May 2019 next to the cheaper Malibu XL.  After the Kaiyue Buick Excelle and Chevrolet Cruze (Classic) two and a half years earlier, ‘Chevrolet strong men broke the wrist’ again and decided to cut off a well selling older car line, though in the first quarter of 2019 this Malibu still sold almost four times better than the XL.  Finally some 550,000 were made in China, vs 850,000 in North America.

In China, until the arrival of the 1.5 turbo in August 2016, three quarter of the output were 2.0-litre models, the remainder equally shared out between the 1.6 turbo (also export to Myanmar) and the 2.4-litre.  The 1.5 turbo model sold about half of the number of the models produced earlier.

platform:

Epsilon II

Malibu

 

 

rear suspension:

4-link independent, coil springs

Opel/SAIC

Opel

GM

GM

GM

GM

GM

GM

Opel

curb weight from:

1539

kg

SGE

Family I

L850

L850

L850

L850

L850

HF6

ex Fiat

wheelbase (cm):

273.7

4 cyl.

4 cyl.

4 cyl.

4 cyl.

4 cyl.

4 cyl.

4 cyl.

V6

4 cyl.

length from (cm):

486.5

DOHC

DOHC

DOHC

DOHC

DOHC

DOHC

DOHC

DOHC

DOHC

width (cm):

185.4

cc:

1490

1598

1998

1998

2384

2384

2457

2997

1956

cc

dir. inj.

inject.

injection

dir. inj.

injection

dir. inj.

dir. inj.

dir. inj.

dir. inj.

turbo

turbo

turbo

turbo

diesel

market:

'Eco'

15- 'Limited'

USA/CDN

13-15

12-13

12-16

fwd

fwd

fwd

6A

6A

6A

kW

193

134+11

147

kW

hp

259

182+15

197

hp

eAssist

China

17: 530T

16-19

12-16

12-16

12-16

fwd

fwd

fwd

fwd

6A

6M/6A

6A

6A

kW

120

131

108

134

kW

hp

163

178

147

182

hp

l/100 km

6.8

7.5/8.3

8.2

8.3

l/100 km

6M -15

South Korea

11-16

11-16

14-15

fwd

fwd

fwd

6A

6A

6A

104

125

115

kW

141

170

156

hp

14- + LPG

export:

Europe

12-14

12-14

fwd

fwd

6M/6A

6M/6A

123

118

kW

167

160

hp

Middle East, Central Asia

12-16

12-16

fwd

fwd

6M/6A

6A

125

191

kW

170

260

hp

AUS/NZ

13-16

13-16

fwd

fwd

6A

6A

123

117

kW

167

159

hp

 

Chevrolet Malibu (E2SC) USA December 2015, China (Malibu XL) February 2016, South Korea (V400) June 2016

Thanks to the light-weight E2XX platform, the entry-level US model weighs 1400 kg,  a weight reduction of 300 ‘pounds’ (nearly 140 kg).  Compare this to 1403 kg for the 2012 American Cruze.  In America, the base engine shrunk from 2.5 to 1.5-litre, with turbo.   This would further be reduced in South Korea and later in China to an 1.3-litre with 3 cylinders, coupled to a continuously variable transmission (CVT).  Called ‘Variomatic’, this design had been marketed in a simpler form by the Dutch DAF (Van Doorne's Automobielfabriek) from 1959, and after Volvo bought DAF in 1975, the steel-belted CVT was developed by VDT (Van Doorne's Transmissie) and marketed by Subaru in the late 1980s, and since decades common in Japan. 

The styling of this all-new Malibu is much more controversial than that of its worthy predecessor, which probably is the main reason, that the Chinese opted mostly for the old one.  Also, the fastback rear end is not everybody’s taste.  In North America, it arrived about three years after the previous undersized volume model.  It seems, that initially here was also a 60/40 split in favor of the earlier Malibu (Limited).  Sales in the USA for the new Malibu soon fell to 80% level, as compared with the previous generation.

The V400 designation refers to the South Korean built model, where it was an instant success, resulting in selling over 33,000 in 2017, in which year it accounted for a quarter of Chevrolet‘s sales there.  This compares to 39,000 in China, and nearly 200,000 in North America.  This generation was exported to selected Asian markets, but denied to other continents.  With the 2.5-litre engine, China now had a larger engine than North America.

In November 2018, a new 3-cylinder 1.3-litre ‘E-Turbo’ engine came in use in South Korea, soon followed by China, selling three to every one 2.0 turbo.  Nearly fifty years earlier, a 7.4-litre engine, five and a half times as large, had become available, from 1970 until 1975.

In China, in December 2018, the new long-stroke 2-litre turbo engine with active fuel management arrived, succeeding on the 2.5-litre.  The hybrid model sold marginally in China, and  got a certification in South Korea only in 2019.  In the Middle East the 2.5 engine was replaced by the 1.5 turbo in March 2019, leaving all Malibus now with engines under 2-litre.  Except for the hybrid model, all engines now have a turbocharger.  Right-hand-driving markets are not served.

platform:

E2SC

Malibu

rear suspension:

4-link independent, coil springs

GM

Opel/SAIC

Opel

GM

GM

GM

Opel

curb weight from:

1400

kg

E-Tec

SGE

MGE

E-Tec

L850

L850

MDE

wheelbase (cm):

282.9

3 cyl.

4 cyl.

4 cyl.

4 cyl.

4 cyl.

4 cyl.

4 cyl.

length from (cm):

492.2

DOHC

DOHC

DOHC

DOHC

DOHC

DOHC

DOHC

width (cm):

185.4

cc:

1341

1490

1796

1998

1998

2457

1598

cc

dir. inj.

dir. inj.

dir. inj.

dir. inj.

dir. inj.

dir. inj.

dir. inj.

turbo

turbo

hybrid

turbo

turbo

turbo

diesel

market:

USA/CDN

December 2015

15-

15-

15-

fwd

fwd

fwd

18- 6A > CVT

EVT

17- 8A > 9A

kW

121

91+136

186

kW

hp

163

122+182

250

hp

China

Chevrolet Malibu XL

February 2016

535T

17: 530T

17: 530H

550T

17: 535

19-

16-19

16-19

18-

16-18

fwd

fwd

fwd

fwd

fwd

CVT

6A/7DCT

EVT

9A

6A

kW

116

120

91+114

172

142

kW

hp

158

163

124+155

234

193

hp

l/100 km

5.8

6.3/6.0

4.3

6.7

7.3

l/100 km

South Korea

June 2016

18-

16-18

19-

16-

18-

fwd

fwd

fwd

fwd

fwd

CVT

6A

EVT

6A

6A

kW

115

122

91+147

186

100

kW

hp

156

166

124+200

253

136

hp

export (Middle East, Asia)

19-

16-

16-19

fwd

fwd

fwd

6A

6A

6A

kW

121

186

137

kW

hp

163

250

186

hp

 

Output data are approximate.

                                                        

 

For recent specifications on Chevrolet cars built in China, see:
On a Global Mission: The Automobiles of General Motors International          

 

Malibu vs Regal vs LaCrosse

           

 

Far East Auto Literature

14 August, 2019