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2007 Detroit Auto Show : 2008 Chevrolet Malibu - Honda Slayer?

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2008 Chevrolet Malibu

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2008 Chevrolet Malibu
By Nigel Bernhard
Editor TACH UK

Detroit January 15, 2006; After a week of exciting concept car launches, General Motors rounded off its media schedule by revealing perhaps the most new ordinary car it’s shown all week – but it’s arguably the most significant.

Already the Chevrolet Malibu is being spoken of as the first serious GM competition to the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, the cars that dominates the US saloon car market. GM has consistently failed to match these Japanese models in sales terms; indeed not since the heyday of the Ford Taurus in the early 1990s has a ‘Big Three’ model mounted a serious challenge.

Chevrolet is on a roll in the US – rebuilt from the ground up with small cars developed by GM-Daewoo in Korea and retro sports models such as Corvette and Camaro. But the real volume is in the US mid-size category: “The Malibu has the goods – both tangible and intangible – to assert a leadership position in the segment and re-affirm Chevrolet’s commitment to expressive cars,” said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager.

The car goes on sale in the Autumn as a 2008 model. It’s 76mm longer than the outgoing Malibu and the wheelbase is 162mm longer, emphasising that the wheel have been moved toward the corners in order to give better handling and maximise interior cabin space.

It’s been benchmarked against Camry – GM is keen to stress its advantages over the Toyota top-seller, including a 76mm longer wheelbase Toyota Camry. “We know the competition is very good,” said Peper. “Malibu offers a stylish, uncompromising package that stacks up against it.” GM North America President Troy Clarke added: “Make no mistake – GM is back in the car game.” He said GM was “a revitalised organisation with a passion for design and a focus on technology”.

It has a choice of engines ranging from 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol to 3.6-litre V6, married to 6-speed automatic transmissions. It comes in three trim levels: LS, LT and LTZ, and prices will start as low as $20,000. It’s unlikely to be sold as part of the European Chevrolet offering, however.