2018 Holden Commodore hiding under Malibu skin

GENERAL Motors has given the first glimpse of the first imported Commodore – under the skin at least.

The all-new Chevrolet Malibu revealed at the 2015 New York motor show is based on the new Epsilon II architecture that will also underpin the Opel Insignia – the car that will form the basis of the 2018 Commodore.

However, the Commodore will not simply be a rebadged version of the Malibu, instead picking up its styling predominantly from the European-market Insignia.

But senior GM sources have confirmed to Wheels the Malibu is the best indication so far of what will sit underneath the first Commodore to come from overseas, once local production ceases in 2017.

The reveal of the new Malibu in the US will also see the end of the Malibu nameplate – and GM’s mid-sized car – in Australia.

Wheels has learnt Holden will kill off the slow selling car in 2016 – just three years after it arrived as a much-hyped mid-sizer.

A Holden spokesman said: “We’re constantly evaluating all future model potential and won’t discuss specific models at this time.”

The move to drop the Malibu in Australia makes sense given the next-gen Malibu has grown significantly in size to the point where it offers similar interior space to the current Commodore.

The new Malibu has a wheelbase that has grown 91mm, bringing the space between the front and rear wheels to within 87mm of the current Commodore.

On overall length, the two are even closer; the new Malibu’s 4923mm nose-to-tail dimension is just 24mm less than the existing Commodore.

The new Malibu’s Epsilon II architecture is essentially a new platform, albeit one that uses some elements of the old front-drive platform in the Malibu.

“We took everything that was good off Epsilon 1 and try and improve it,” GM vice-president of global product development, former Holden boss Mark Reuss, told Wheels.

Reuss added that the platform was a global architecture that had been engineered for right-hand drive, indicating it would be used on other models, with the Insignia the most likely recipient.

“We took 300 pounds (136kg) out of it and re-architected the car … there are a lot of differences.”

Chevrolet confirmed the Malibu will be offered with at least three engines; a 1.5-litre turbo with 119kW, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo with 186kW, and a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol-electric hybrid with 136kW that allows the car to be driven on electricity alone up to 88km/h.

While the Insignia will have a different drivetrain line-up – expect diesel engines and a twin-turbo V6 to offer V8 performance – it’s expected at least one of those drivetrains will make it to Australia, with the 2.0-litre turbo the most likely option.

Holden could also have the option to import other engines, including potentially a hybrid, depending on market demand and whether a sales case could be built.

A Holden spokesman refused to confirm that the Malibu gives a clue to the next Commodore.

“We’ve still got two and half years of the fantastic current-generation Commodore to go and we’re not going to comment on the future.”

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