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Please GM, Not Another Malibu SS!

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On: Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 9:22AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Please GM, Not Another Malibu SS!

There is good news and bad news when it comes to the Chevy Malibu and the year 2013. The good news is easy—compared to the outgoing 2012 model, the '13 variant will have much more fit and finish. More shoulder and hip room (up by nearly 3 inches), and adds more than three cubic feet of interior space. And although the 4.5-inches lost in wheelbase may seem like a negative, it is actually addition by subtraction because the new Epsilon II platform is home to a newer, much sportier nigh Bimmer-like look.

If the outgoing Malibu was the average cubicle worker, then the new Malibu is the boss in his own office who has more responsibilities, but shows up wearing jeans and sneakers on a Tuesday morning. The '13 Malibu conveys a sense of casual competency we haven't seen from GM in an extremely long time, and actually looks quite a bit like an Americanized Acura TSX from certain angles. In short, the new Malibu actually looks like it can compete on a global level with cars like the Hyundai Sonata, Honda Accord, and even the performance oriented Nissan Maxima. 

However, there is a downside to this very hopeful story. Despite the new car's very sporty motif, there are rumors that Chevy is debating on bringing back the SS badge to the Malibu. Now, for those of you who may have blocked out the awful image of the last Malibu to wear the SS badge, it was the very ill-fated Malibu Maxx SS, a very lackluster, automatic, station wagon. A true SuperSport, if there ever was one. And, though the one good thing that came out of that travesty was that GM put forth a decree that only legitimate performance cars will wear the venerable double 'S' badge from that point forward. 

Well, we at Autoshopper are here to hold GM to its word. Please, GM, no more Malibu SS models. Please! Look, the new Malibu is a fine looking car, it really is, and not just in comparing it to its predecessors either. The '13 Malibu really looks like it could help GM take back some of that all-important family sedan market that has been dominated by the Japanese carmakers for so long. But that being said, it is still just that—a family sedan.

Chevy has also said that it does not plan to put a V6 into the Malibu, and instead introduce it with a 2.4-liter inline four and then eventually introduce a brand new 2.5-liter four for the classy sedan. So far, there is nothing super or sporty sounding about either of those engine choices.

Even if GM were to transpose the existing Buick Regal GS 2.0-liter turbo four that produces an impressive 270 hp and 295-lb-ft, somehow that still doesn't quite elicit images of smokey burn outs or rumbling exhaust notes that make young men smile uncontrollably. Beyond that, the only transmission available for the Mailibu is set to be a six-speed automatic. That's not going to fly this time around, General.

We are willing to let the Malibu Maxx SS stay in the past, and, although we are willing to forgive, we are not soon going to forget (try as we might). Just accept the fact that the Malibu is not an SS candidate, and really never was. You can still sport it up, make it fun even, dare to even make it fast, but just please call it something else.

Instead of watering down a badge with such history, why not just create a new line that sits just below SuperSport in the pecking order of performance. Come to think of it, the RallySport sounds like an awfully good candidate for that. In RS trim, any of these cars can be quicker than their base counterparts, but they will leave the varsity jackets for the starters, and learn that sometimes being a good JV player is better than a laughing stock benchwarmer with the big boys.

So please, GM, the 2013 Malibu looks like the total package. It looks like a real winner, so please, please don't make a loser out of it by setting our expectations way too high with an SS badge, and have us end up being disappointed. Instead, just tell us the sportier version is just that, and let us decide just how super it really is.

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