Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Renault-Samsung SM6 vs. GM Korea Chevrolet All New Malibu

Two luxury midsize saloons sourced from the West, one from France and the other from the United States, have finally made it into South Korean territories but adjusted for South Korean specifications. First and foremost, let's meet the South Korean version of the recently-released Renault Talisman saloon, the first-ever Renault Samsung SM6.

2016 Renault Samsung SM6
2016 Renault Samsung SM6 interior

Well, what do we have here is a midsize luxury saloon that got the South Korean folks from Renault noticed when they heard that their French parents launched the new Talisman saloon, the first to incorporate Renault's new design language applied in the new Megane, new Espace, and the upcoming Koleos crossover. Of course, China does had a Renault Talisman, but only in the SM7. Because the new Talisman is made to be the direct replacement to the aging Laguna and the less-successful Latitude flagship, which was sourced from Korea as an SM5, there's a one-sided theory that their new SM6 will replace both the SM5 and the SM7 at the same pace but while the two aging saloons are still in Renault-Samsung's lineup for now, we'll have to wait for Renault's South Korea subsidy to reach their verdict.

Anyway, the first-ever SM6 looks broadly similar to the Talisman at so many angles. You can expect the new Renault design implanted all over the outer details and so is the questionable interior with the touch screen implanted on the dashboard to warn speedo boys "you can't replace me, suckers!" Yep, today's modern cars feature irreplaceable stuff so no speedo boy can remove it with their bare hands. In partial terms of comfort, the new SM6 is German saloon quality despite being a French car with a South Korean passport booked in. You can really tell just how premium those seats are when you lay your butts on it and it's not surprisingly half bad to feel just how "luxurious" the interior is. Rest assured, they done it to make it as luxurious as the Germans.

One feature you will notice is the Multi-Sense feature which allows the driver to switch through four different modes (Neutral, Eco, Comfort, and Sport) and each mode affects different stuff around the car in terms of driving, comfort, tech, and so on. There's a Personal mode where the driver can customize the settings of his or her liking. You can change how it affects the lighting, the speedo, the engine sound, the climate control, the seats, the steering, the powertrain, or the suspension. Sounds fancy but complicating if you mess it up.

Under the hood, the SM6 offers a choice of a 1.6 TCe engine, a 2.0 GDe engine, or a 2.0 LPe DONUT (for rental use). The 1.6 TCe engine develops 190PS of power and 26.5kg.m of torque while delivering a claimed combined fuel economy of 12.8km/L while the 2.0 GDe engine produces 150PS of power and 20.6kg.m of torque with 12.3km/L of claimed combined fuel economy. Both of these engines come with a 7-speed EDC gearbox as well as auto start-stop system which allows its engine to shut off when stopped at a set of lights and then starts again when you set off.

For safety, the SM6 comes with Active Emergency Braking System, Safe Distance Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning, Automatic High Low Beam, Adaptive Cruise Control, and a feature that allows this car to park by itself.

The price? It starts from 23,760,000 to 31,900,000 Korean Won. That sounds more accessible to own than the SM5 and the SM7 saloons in the lineup but if you want more that you expect from the SM6 but unsure about its pricing, best to look at this alternative.

2016 GM Korea Chevrolet Malibu
2016 GM Korea Chevrolet Malibu interior

This is the all-new Chevrolet Malibu, the one that came out last year Stateside but this one's Korean-made and it's a well-match for the Asian markets desperate to get their hands on this potent rival to Korean-made saloons such as the Hyundai Sonata and the Kia K5, but since no Asia-Pacific country is heavily interested with the new Malibu, this car will have to make do with the South Koreans.

If I recall from last year, the new Malibu sounds very reasonable when compared against other family midsize saloons in its class, but with all that tech induced in this car, the new Malibu feels like a class apart, well despite the dynamics that doesn't feel like a European saloon. I once said that because it looks more American, chances are too slim for now. Guess what, Asian countries like South Korea and China has one and it's unsure if some other Asia-Pacific countries will get the new one, but in the meantime...

It still looks identical to the one sold in North America as are the features as well as the comfort and conveniences offered. Unlike the North American model, which comes with 4G LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity and as a first, it is available with the choice of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, this South Korean model doesn't have internet connectivity on it and it's only compatible with Apple CarPlay. No questions asked.

Under the hood, the Malibu, like the North American one, still comes with the turbocharged 1.5L ECOTEC engine with Variable Valve Timing and the more powerful and turbocharged 2.0L ECOTEC engine but both of these engines are mated with the GEN III 6-speed automatic gearbox. It's easier said than done because with the 2.0L is focused on performance, thanks to its 253PS of power, the 1.5L model focuses solely on fuel economy thanks to its combined fuel economy of 13km/L, Chevrolet claims but let's hope this fuel consumption doesn't cheat in the eyes of many drivers.

Keep this in mind because South Korea's new Malibu is different from USA's new Malibu, there is no Teen Driver Feature present here despite the new model is offered with seventeen driver aids available by request.

Anyway, wanna know how it cost? It's 23,100,000 to 31,810,000 Korean Won, so it's less expensive to own than the SM6 and it's more powerful as well. Now, you had a choice. If you were a businessman living in South Korea and you have a choice between two interracial luxury midsize saloons sourced from the West but altered for South Korean specifications, which would you pick?

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