As General Motors prepares to launch a refreshed 2014 Chevrolet Malibu in the US, the current, year-old version of the car will go on sale in Australia as the Holden Malibu. Rather than just making it right-hand drive and putting new badges on the Malibu for Aussie duty, Holden engineers worked on the sedan's drivetrain and suspension to give it a tuning unique to that market.

It seems like one of the biggest challenges was getting the Holden Malibu to drive smoothly on Australian roads, and GM's crew Down Under accomplished this by retuning the suspension's damping calibration, as well as giving the car proper right-hand-drive tires. Yes, apparently tires designed for a left-hand-drive car would cause the Malibu to pull "excessively to the left," according to GM's press release. Engine choices for the Holden Malibu are the 2.4-liter gasoline four-cylinder or a 2.0-liter diesel I4.

Scroll down for the official press blast.
Show full PR text

Local Tune Ensures Malibu Performs for Australia

The Holden Malibu will have a familiar feel when it goes on sale this month, thanks to a local engineering program that has seen the car tuned for Australian roads.

Holden's engineering team has created a unique-for-Australia ride and handling set up that ensures the Malibu performs on Australia's challenging roads to deliver the great handling that owners expect from a Holden.

Holden Vehicle Dynamics Specialist Engineer, Michael Barber was part of the team that developed the local tune for the Holden Malibu and was previously responsible for creating the acclaimed ride and handling package for the Model Year 2014 Holden Cruze and the FE1 suspension for VF Commodore.

"The challenge with adapting a global car for the local market often begins with the tyres," he said.

"As a global vehicle, sold predominantly in left hand drive markets, Malibu was originally specified with left hand drive tyres.

Using left hand drive tyres in a right hand drive market can lead to a vehicle that pulls excessively to the left.

"We've developed a Right Hand Drive 17 inch tyre for the CD and the Malibu CDX is equipped with the same excellent 18 inch Bridgestone performance tyres that are fitted to the VF SV6 and SS Commodore. Getting good tyres onto any car is an important fundamental to delivering a great drive."

In addition to tyre development, the engineering team was also able to create a new suspension set up with a unique damper tune to deliver a good balance in ride and handling that works well on Australian roads.

"What we aimed for with Malibu was to deliver a car with great all-round performance and we've been successful in creating a really adept cruiser that is as at home in an urban environment as it is on rolling b-roads or an interstate highway." said Michael Barber.

In addition to the dynamics work, Holden engineers have also been at work on Malibu's powertrain calibration as part of a global workshare strategy, which uses the available resources and skills of the company's engineers from around the world to perform development work on future model cars.

The team, based at Holden's Lang Lang Proving Ground, calibrated the auto transmission for the petrol Malibu on sale in Australia, Europe, the Middle East and Korea. A unique throttle and pedal map for Australia was developed in conjunction with GM Korea to deliver enhanced drive quality for local roads.

Holden's Lang Lang Proving Ground allows engineers to undertake valuable local evaluation work that assesses a car's performance.

"It is critical for us to be able to evaluate our vehicles under all circumstances which is something we are not able to do on public roads." said Michael Barber.

"Our Proving Ground gives us the ability to run highly repeatable emergency avoidance simulations and limit handling evaluations. This enables us to fine tune and optimise the vehicle specification. Even though it's unlikely that our customers will ever find themselves in this type of circumstance it's important for the vehicles fundamentals to be right."


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 46 Comments
      Louis MacKenzie
      • 2 Years Ago
      New tires causing the car to pull? That's a boat load of crap. So the dealers rotate tires to make cars pull one side or the other?
      m_2012
      • 2 Years Ago
      LOL, right hand drive tires! Thats hilarious. I think the word you were looking for was "alignment", not tires.
      MMM
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Yes, apparently tires designed for a left-hand-drive car would cause the Malibu to pull "excessively to the left," according to GM's press release" - WTF?? Really? What about tire rotation?
        The Wasp
        • 2 Years Ago
        @MMM
        BS like this is how Holden justifies having an engineering department. Time to shut it down, GM.
          TechEd
          • 2 Years Ago
          @The Wasp
          So the suspension tune suits Australian tastes. Firm and compliant vs. soft and soggy.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        • 2 Years Ago
        [blocked]
        tinted up
        • 2 Years Ago
        What are you talking about? Both this and the Chevy make me totally understand why foreign competition with GOOD styling is capable of capturing large percentages of market share.
      jonwil2002
      • 2 Years Ago
      If GM thinks this piece of crap can beat the Japanese competitors, they have another thing comming. If anything, it might do what the Mondeo did for Ford and steal a few buyers away from Commodores.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        • 2 Years Ago
        [blocked]
      Teleny411
      • 2 Years Ago
      For some reason the dimensions & proportions of this Malibu scream cheap and tired like a circa 2000 Malibu. The last gen was a start in the right direction, but this generation looks like warmed over rental lot material.
      lrx301
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why the hell the location of steering wheel has anything to do with the side pulling force of tires? The GM engineering always amazes me. Who can prove that to me? We are never told which tire should be put to right, and which should be on the left, are we? April 1st, today?
        INCREDIBLE BOB
        • 2 Years Ago
        @lrx301
        It does sound wierd, but you know the toilet flushes the opposite way down there, so why not tires?
          Lab Rat
          • 2 Years Ago
          @INCREDIBLE BOB
          No, they really don't flush opposite.
        Matthew Artelt
        • 2 Years Ago
        @lrx301
        Driving on the opposite side of the road from the US, the crown of the road (roads are not flat, but higher in the middle and lower on the edges for drainage) would be on the opposite side of the vehicle. The more you know...
      Daniel D
      • 2 Years Ago
      Unfortunately Holdens engineers were given a very ordinary car to work with. Already the reviews in Australia are saying its between the middle or bottom of the pack. The Japanese competition won't be losing any sleep over it.
        Brodz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Daniel D
        It's still a product from General Mediocrity.
          Alfonso T. Alvarez
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Brodz
          Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha - did you think that up all by yourself or get help from Laser?
          Lab Rat
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Brodz
          Oh, please Alvarez... besides the Corvette, what car does GM make that's outstanding in its own right?
      Travis C. Vasconcelo
      • 2 Years Ago
      Rob, I couldn't agree more. The Holden Division designers are much superior to the American Chevy Designers. New GM still doesn't get it. Designing a car in a market research environment isn't the way. And the thinly disguised Chevy/Buick brethren cars of today are as bad as the 80's with the X, A, and C body cars. Ford used to do the same and are very cautious about such now days. GM could learn a lot from them!
        JGM038
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Travis C. Vasconcelo
        You must not have noticed how up until this year all of Lincoln's line up was pretty much dressed up Fords...
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Travis C. Vasconcelo
        [blocked]
      ugly rims
      • 2 Years Ago
      New Holden's, Buick's, and GMC's look ten times better than their Chevy counterparts.
      Farmboy
      • 2 Years Ago
      I really don't think this is a good thing for Holden. It sounds like they are starting to really outsource where cars come from. This is exactly what Ford has been doing in preparation for their manufacturing shutdown. The only difference is that GM wouldn't be warmly received if they replaced Holden with Chevy. It'd be replacing something special with something just ordinary. And I mean that as in Chevy is sold everywhere else. Holden is something special for Australia. It's like something from within. Yeah, they have rebadges, like this. But they still have market-specific cars, that come from here. It's weird to explain without sounding like I'm offending the Australians. Like if a brand like Jeep were just entirely Italian Fiats, and eventually just became Fiat. It wouldn't feel right. I'm really wondering if GM/Holden are gonna regret what they said about Holden's security in Australia after the Ford announcement. I'm probably on pure speculation, but the outgoing Malibu? That's rebadging unsold cars and/or parts. That's not a good sign. It's like, "Here. Have the leftovers."
    • Load More Comments