8

There was a time when General Motors owned the American midsize saloon market. But a procession of poorly designed products handed the segment lead to the Japanese.

In recent years, GM’s Chevrolet division has regained momentum, however. The new Chevrolet Malibu could give its Asian competitors a serious run for the money in its home market. It will also be the first version of the saloon to be officially imported to Europe.

The Malibu ‘Eco’ hybrid is the headline addition to the revised range, which reaches market a half year ahead of its range-mates. It is still to be confirmed whether the hybrid will be sold in Europe, alongside more conventional 158bhp 2.0-litre diesel and 165bhp 2.4-litre petrol models. But on this evidence, GM Europe should seriously consider the possibility.

This is a surprisingly pleasant hybrid system that delivers more than acceptable acceleration – with a 0 to 62mph time rated at 8.7 seconds – and strong fuel economy: the equivalent of just over 28 imperial mpg on the US EPA’s city test cycle, and better than 42mpg on its highway cycle.

One of the other benefits of eAssist, which pairs a 180bhp 2.4-litre four-cylinder Ecotec petrol engine with a 15bhp electric motor, is that it reduces the tendency of the Malibu’s torque converter gearbox to ‘hunt’ for a different ratio on hilly roads, or when you need just a hint of acceleration.

The new Malibu is a handsome car, more distinctive than the four-door it replaces. But the interior really stands out, rivalling many models in the North American mid-sized luxury class with its fittings and finishes. There are some neat storage solutions too, among them a six-inch storage box behind the pop-up sat-nav display.

It will take time for Chevrolet to re-establish itself, never mind to gain ground in the 100 global markets that GM is targeting with this car – but this Malibu shows that brand is well and truly back in the game.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Chevrolet range

  • Chevrolet Malibu 2013-2016

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK