Vauxhall's new car blitz has continued with the unveiling of its fourth all-new model in new market segments in less than 12 months. The Vauxhall Cascada is a full-size four-seat convertible that's bigger than an Audi A5 cabriolet.
The new Cascada will reach UK showrooms in March, where it will join the other new Vauxhall nameplates - Adam, Ampera and Mokka - in the firm's expanded line-up. It made its first public appearance at the Geneva motor show.
Despite being almost 71mm longer than an A5 cabriolet at 4626mm in length, the Cascada is set to significantly undercut the £29,455 A5 cabriolet by costing from around an estimated £25,000 in its entry-level form.
Indeed, the Cascada will be the cheapest full-size convertible in the marketplace; it's a class bigger than the Peugeot 308 CC, Volkswagen Eos and VW Golf cabriolet, and slightly larger still and set to be significantly less expensive than the Volvo C70.
The Cascada will become the flagship model of Vauxhall's expanding range, offering a premium interior with even higher quality materials than Vauxhall's current range-topper, the Insignia.
The two-door departs from Vauxhall's previous convertible offering, the Astra TwinTop, by ditching a retractable hard-top roof in favour of a soft-top. The fabric top can be opened and closed in 17secs at speeds of up to 30mph. It is controlled using an interior button or a key fob.
Underpinning the Cascada is a platform that incorporates elements from both the Astra and Insignia. The front suspension is Vauxhall's torque steer-reducing HiPer strut system, first seen on the Insignia VXR. The rear suspension is of compound crank beam axle design.
The Cascada can be equipped with Vauxhall's FlexRide adaptive chassis technology, which features three selectable driving modes.
Vauxhall says the Cascada is 43 per cent stiffer torsionally and 10 per cent more resistant to bending forces than the smaller Astra TwinTop. NVH levels are also said to have been improved significantly thanks to extra underbody reinforcements.
As well as being 221mm longer than the Astra TwinTop, the wheelbase is also 71mm longer at 2700mm. It is 1840mm wide, and the front track is 56mm wider and the rear 70mm wider than Vauxhall's previous convertible. Wheels of between 18 and 20inches in size can be fitted. The front brake discs are 326mm in diameter, the rear's 325mm.
The engine range includes the first of the engines to come from Vauxhall's MGE (Mid-Size Gasoline Engine) range. The turbocharged 1.6 SIDI ECOTEC petrol unit gets 168bhp at 1650-3200rpm and 206lb ft of torque in its initial application, but Autocar understands a higher-powered version of the engine with 197bhp and a lower-powered version with around 148bhp will be added to the Cascada line-up in due course. This engine will initially only be offered with a new six-speed auto' gearbox.
Other launch engines include a base turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol with 138bhp and 162lb ft, and a 163bhp, 280lb ft 2.0-litre CDTi diesel. Vauxhall's new 192bhp, 295lb ft 2.0-litre BiTurbo diesel engine is also tipped to be added to the line-up.
Styling inspiration comes from "luxury touring cars of a bygone age". Familiar Vauxhall design features include 'blades' on the doors, the wing-shaped rear lights and the signature chrome grille. The bonnet features a distinctive power dome, and a new headlight design features LED daytime running lights.
The fabric roof can be chosen in one of three colours; 10 exterior colour choices are offered.
The Cascada's basic interior design is recognisable from the Insignia, but it features higher quality materials and more premium options, including Nappa-leather trimmed seats. Vauxhall claims the cabin is spacious enough for four adults.
The boot capacity is 280 litres with the roof down and 350 litres with it up. The split rear seats can be folded 50:50 to increase loading capacity.
In the event of a roll-over accident, spring-loaded bars automatically spring up from behind the rear seats.
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