Whilst the Chevrolet Malibu was mauled in the US market for its blandness that led to a quicker than expected early life facelift that launched this week at the LA Auto Show the Chinese market kind of enjoyed the original product. The Malibu has so far been well received in the Chinese market thanks to its large size and relatively low cost compared to other vehicles, in the Chinese market a 1.6T, 2.0L and 2.4L are offered mated to six speed manual gearboxes.
As no facelift is coming to the Chinese market, Chevrolet bought ‘Mr. Malibu‘ which seems to be composed of just black stickering on a regular Malibu.
So why do Chinese seem to like the current Malibu? Probably because they have no ill memories of US market rental fleets and malaise era designs that capitalized on a once strong nameplate with products that were far below expectations.
On a personal note, I test drove a 2.0L and 1.6T Malibu earlier this month for personal reasons. I wanted to buy a large’ish sedan and the Malibu popped up on my shopping list. The 2.0L is a wonderful engine whilst the 1.6T seems largely superfluous, it suffers from turbo lag and an unrefined drive which is a shame as the 1.6T gains a nice black interior where as the 2.0L comes with mental hospital gray only. I passed on the Malibu, for now.