My reasons for thinking what I do is that the glass content in the bases of the Malavita and Cartel are the same. I've ridden the React Strap and Asym and there is not a noticeable difference in performance between the two. Then you play with the highbacks and the one on the 2013 Cartel is softer than I can ever remember seeing on a Cartel. When you push into the top of the Cartel highback it gives more than when you push into the top of the Malavita.
Companies label things wrong. And number systems are very arbitrary. Look at Forum. They still claim the Destroyer Doubledog is stiffer than the Youngblood Doubledog. I've ridden both. The Destroyer was fun to play in the tips, the Youngblood threw me down a few times. It is stiffer, I don't care what Forum's numbers say, the Youngblood was stiffer.
So yes, in the past the Cartel has been just a bit stiffer than the Malavita, the only things new are the react strap and highback. With that new highback I am heavily betting that it will now ride with more play up top, feeling softer.
Hurry up and get a pair and tell us then! I'm dying to buy a pair. Either Vitas or cartels.