FOLLOWING one of the best summers ever for topless motoring I managed to soak up some rays of autumnal sunshine as I drove through the picturesque Derbyshire Peak District in Vauxhall’s sleek new Cascada convertible writes Bryan Longworth.
Cascada with its folding fabric roof has been launched at a time when soft top convertibles are now considered to be more cool than folding hard tops and it is aimed at premium competition like the Audi A5 convertible which is much more expensive.
Vauxhall’s chairman and managing director, Duncan Aldred, said that Cascada which is a full size two door four seater convertible with premium qualities and technologies at an affordable mainstream price was a car that was set to change people’s perception of Vauxhall once again.
He said the full size convertible sector tended to be occupied by very expensive cars from premium manufacturers and with Cascada there were high levels of equipment, technology and luxury at an affordable price.
Cascada is available with two petrol engines and a diesel and my test car was the entry level Cascada SE with the 140bhp 1.4 turbo petrol engine costing £23,995 on the road with a top speed of 129mph, a zero to 60mph time of 10.2 seconds and a combined fuel consumption of 44.8mpg.
It has a very attractive stylish body that looks good with the top up or down with a roomy rear seating area and a load volume area of 280 litres with the roof down and 380 litres with the roof up.
The multi layered fabric roof which is what this car is all about can be opened in 17 seconds via an interior switch or by the key fob which looks really cool and is ideal for poseurs who want to open the roof as they approach the car which will be topless by the time they get in and looks good especially if there is a crowd around!
The Cascada is at its best with the roof down and I found that with the roof open and the side windows in place there was very little turbulence but to make things even smoother for the driver and passengers a windbreaker can be used.
The 1.4-litre engine in the test car provided enough power for quite lively driving and I would be happy to have this particular model but drivers wanting more power as a lot of convertible owners do prefer then there is the larger petrol engine to go for.
Cascada which is a deceptively large car was at its most enjoyable on the winding roads in the Peak District where the agile handling helped to provide me with some exhilerating open top driving in autumnal sunshine before the wintry weather arrives although over the years I have had some enjoyable open top winter motoring.
The only thing I found slightly irritating was the narrow rear window that was rather restrictive for looking through the interior mirror which is a problem with soft top folding roofs but otherwise Cascada is a convertible that is good for Vauxhall’s image as their chairman predicts.
For it to be be compared to premium convertibles such as the Audi A5 cabrio indicates just how good the Vauxhall range now is especially the Cascada which takes the company into a new sector where it seems set to make a very good impression.
My Verdict: Cascada’s a cool capacious convertible.
Model: Vauxhall Cascada SE 1.4.
Engine: 1.4-litre petrol turbo.
Output: 140bhp @ 4900-6000rpm.
Transmission: Six speed manual.
Top speed: 129mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 60mph 10.2 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 44.8mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 148g/km.