After a couple of teasers and even a premature leak, this is the first look at Chevrolet’s all-important Malibu midsize sedan before its unveiling at the Detroit Auto Show. The new Malibu will go head to head with best-selling rivals such as the Toyota Camry and GM has taken advantage of its global development program to ensure it’s a close fight. The Malibu is based on the FWD Epsilon platform that’s also used on the Pontiac G6, Saturn Aura, and the Saab 9-3, but this new model is based on a longer-wheelbase variant that makes it larger than its competitors.

The new design, featuring Chevrolet's new "brand face," gives the Malibu a more upmarket style. Overall, it’s a big improvement compared to the previous model. The interior hasn’t been neglected, either. Unusually, GM’s first sneak peek of the Malibu was the inside, and you can see why. GM is finally learning the art of building more attractive interiors (check out the China-only Cadillac SLS if you still doubt us), but we’ll have to view it in the flesh to see how good it really is.

The higher-spec model is powered by a 3.6L V6 pumping out 252hp, complete with a 6-speed auto transmission with optional paddle-shifters. The base Malibu gets a 2.4L four-cylinder engine with 164hp, mated to a four or six-speed auto depending on the trim you choose.

Click ahead for more photos.

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