The Chevy Malibu is one of GM's iconic nameplates, with a history dating back to 1964. Certainly not all Malibus have been worthy of praise; in fact, the former sporty intermediate that once wore optional S/S badges on the outside (and had guts to match) has morphed into one of the most unexciting family sedans on the market.
Well, maybe not ANY market: the Malibu has sold rather well in China where its comparatively large size and low price compared to local competitors has translated into surprisingly good sales numbers. Some of the cost savings are the result of Chinese driving preferences for manual transmissions and the Malibu offers a six speed manual gearbox mated with the buyer's choice of 1.6T, 2.0L and 2.4L engines.
The Malibu's success in China is no doubt pleasing to GM but every silver lining has its cloud: Chevy's far-eastern standard bearer won't get the 2014 model's cosmetic freshening enjoyed by its cousins back home. The visual tune-up was necessitated by the newly redesigned 2013 Malibu suffering an 11.9 sales slump over the calendar year's first four months.
Instead, when the powers that be at GM China were left to their own devices in preparing a 2014 Malibu for the 2013 Guangzhou Auto Show, the result was “Mr. Malibu”, a downright ugly black tape job made worse by the obtrusive “77” slapped on each side. If evoking the excitement of auto racing was their intent, the Malibu is one THE worst cars with which to evoke with.
One has to wonder, is GM China so impressed with “their” Malibu's buoyant sales they feel they can troll China's carbuyers with impunity? Are they stealing some glory from Toyota, maker of the late and lamented mid-engined MR2? Have they have been brainwashed by Malibu Barbie's rise to doll super-stardom? Word to GM China's marketing team: Malibu Barbie is hot, your Malibu Chevy is not. (via China Car Times and A Car Place)