I don't think the Mondeo is class-leading now that the new Mazda 6 is here. Ford sold 500 Mondeos in May to a market looking for midsizers. Mazda sold 1000 6's, Toyota sold $hitloads of Camrys. Tells you pretty much everything. And the Mondeo is selling because of hefty discounts at present. Like the Aurion, when they go, so possibly will the sales.
I think the Mondeo and Mazda6 are probably equal at the top of the class. Nothing but rave reviews for either. The comparison test in this month's Wheels placed the 6 1st and the Mondeo 3rd, but that's because they tested the base-model Mondeo and their only criticisms were about the trim level. Most people buy the Zetec anyway, so the criticisms were moot. They said the Mondeo was incredibly roomy, excellent quality and had great dynamics. That it's not winning as many sales as the 6 and Camry says more about the lack of name recognition and advertising than anything else. Considering how little advertising I've seen for the Mondeo, 500 is a very respectable number. The Camry and 6 have been the class barnstormers in sales for years now.
The mid-size market is massive. You've got Mondeo, Epica, Camry, 6, Octavia, Liberty, Sebring, Avenger, Accord, Accord Euro, Sonata, Magentis, Jetta.... It's a big class. However, the scope of the class makes the Mondeo (virtually a new nameplate) and its 500 sales look good, and the Epica and its abysmal 43 sales look very, very bad.
I've driven a G6, a 3.5V6 GT - it's crap. Australians would find it on par with a 1980's Commodore inside (hard pebbled plastics) and a 1980's Camry for dynamics. Smaller than it looks - not even as big as Epica. It's hard to imagine a car with wallowy suspension that also crashes over every minor pimple in the road. Well the G6 is it. My missus TS 1.8 Astra auto would clobber it for go, and probably has a more usable interior not to mention aeons ahead in comfort and ergonomics. The seating position is just all wrong and the steering is not even reach adjustable. I think the Epica would kill it in a comparo. It wasn't even very economical, only on a par with a 3800 VY auto wagon.
All cars that come here have a degree of "Australianisation". They do outback testing, they pick a firmer suspension setting, they make other detail changes. I bet those problems you listed, other than fuel efficiency (which is different for the 2.4, 3.6 and 3.9) and interior quality, could be rectified in the standard Australianisation process. If Holden were intent on bringing over the G6, I'm sure they'd cherry-pick what they'd want; I'd see a range of 2.4 and 3.5, with perhaps the GTP suspension settings, and the option of a manual transmission.
There has been one prevailing praise in every G6 review I've read, and that is its ride. It's been praised as being very smooth and compliant, even over rough surfaces. There'd been the odd criticism or two about numb electric steering (which is only in the 2.4 and 3.5, I believe) but the ride has never been criticised. Overall, the G6 is seen as being quite good dynamically, with a sporty feel and a compliant suspension.
The G6 has a long wheelbase, and I've heard in plenty of reviews that it is commodious enough. Seating position is something subjective.
A Commodore VY has 152kw; the G6 3.5 has 150kw. Both are automatics. I would think lineball fuel efficiency would be an expectation.
The G6 isn't as good as its platform-mates, but I would expect it (on a fairly new platform that hosts two NACOTYs and a Saab) to perform a lot better than an Epica.
The Aura is an Americanised Vectra - failed here already. Too expensive for what it is.
The Malibu is probably nice, but a Commodore sized car, isn't exported anywhere, isn't RHD so it's moot. It would, I think, be too dear landed in Oz. We'd have to wait for next gen for GM to make it RHD - that's if they remember.
So for the next period, 6-18 months Epica is it.
The Aura probably has more in common with Malibu/G6 than with Vectra, despite its styling. I would think it'd be cheaper to import an Aura from the US than it would be to import an Insignia from Europe. Now that I think about it, the Aura could do quite well here. It would fit in with the rest of the range, and even though it's being replaced soon it is still new and fresh enough. It's also not too big, and comes with a choice of engines.
I think the Aura would make more sense than the Malibu because the Aura's design language fits in better with Holden. The current Malibu is a damn good car, but so is the Aura (just less flashy). Also, I get the feeling the Malibu would seem a lot bigger in person than an Aura, which could potentially cause trouble for the Commodore.
If they'd used the same strategy for the Epica as they did with the Astra & Viva, by making it the budget mid-sizer then adding a more expensive mid-sizer, the situation would be a little bit better.