General Motors will nix a 6-cyl. engine offering from its next-generation Chevrolet Malibu, the auto maker says in a sneak peek of the midsize car earlier today.

GM currently offers an optional 3.6L DOHC V-6 in addition to a standard port-injected 2.4L 4-cyl. engine. But when the new Malibu comes, widely expected in 2012 as a ’13 model, it will feature a global family of 4-cyl. engines, the auto maker says.

GM’s 4-cyl. engines are becoming increasingly capable of delivering V-6 power with greater fuel efficiency and fewer emissions. Take-rates for the ’10 Malibu’s 4-cyl. engine exceeded 87%, according to Ward’s data.

A hybrid version of the new Malibu, likely using the fuel-saving eAssist technology rolling out at Buick in the coming months, will bow next month at the New York International Auto Show.

All other information and additional images will be released April 18 in a simultaneous unveiling at the Shanghai auto show and on Chevy’s Facebook page. GM is unveiling the car in China to underscore the Malibu’s new global thrust and entry into the local market.

A live question-and-answer session with consumers on Facebook will follow the Malibu’s 8:30 a.m. (EDT) introduction.

The auto maker sells the Malibu in about 20 markets outside the U.S. The new model will reach nearly 100 countries on six continents, GM says, including its first-ever sales in the growing Chinese market.

“Whether the Malibu is sold in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa or Australia, it has been engineered from the ground up to meet the needs of customers around the world,” Chevrolet Vice President Rick Scheidt says in a statement.

However, it remains unclear if the car’s launch will occur first in North America or another market. GM launched the Chevy Cruze compact car overseas a year ahead of its arrival in the auto maker’s home market, leading to criticism that its styling would become outdated too soon.

Expect a more athletic, aggressive-looking Malibu, borrowing styling cues from the Camaro and Corvette sports cars, chief exterior designer Dan Gifford says.

“We wanted this car to look relaxed, to let its hair down a bit,” Gifford says in a video released today. A wider stance plays up the car’s broad shoulders, he adds.

GM first showed the redesigned Malibu to journalists shortly after it exited bankruptcy in 2009. The stance appeared wider and the front-end more aggressive, with hints of engineering for global pedestrian-protection laws.

In addition to new sheet metal, GM says the car, which is based on the auto maker’s Epsilon platform, will feature “European-inspired driving characteristics.”

GM plans to build the new Malibu in multiple locations, including U.S. facilities at Farifax, KS, and Detroit-Hamtramck.

The Malibu was GM’s best-selling vehicle in the U.S. last year, with 198,770 deliveries for an 11.7% share of the upper middle segment, according to Ward’s. It finished 2010 as the No.7 seller among Ward’s Top 15 cars.

The current-generation model has sold more than 600,000 units globalyl since its introduction in 2008, when it earned North American Car of the Year honors. The ’13 Malibu will mark the car’s eighth generation, a lineage dating back to 1964.