From £25,8608
Zesty new petrol engine boosts the appeal of Luton manufacturer’s drop-top cruiser

Our Verdict

Vauxhall Cascada
The Cascada is as big as cars like the Audi A5, but it’s priced more like an A3

The Vauxhall Cascada is a four-seat convertible with some desirable touches, but does it have the allure to coax buyers away from options like the Audi A5 Cabriolet?

What is it?

The most recent addition to the Vauxhall Cascada convertible line-up, with a new 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine under the bonnet.

We’ve been quite impressed by the Luton manufacturer’s mid-sized convertible since it first arrived in early 2013, pitched as a sleek rival for the likes of the Audi A5 cabriolet and Volkswagen Eos.

Based on Vauxhall Astra underpinnings – but not as close a relative as the little-loved Astra TwinTop that preceded it – the Cascada’s strongest suit is its value-for-money compared to the (admittedly ritzier) drop-top Audi A5.

The petrol engine range was limited at launch, with a choice of a 1.4-litre turbo with a modest 138bhp or a 1.6-litre direct injection unit offering 168bhp that came attached to an automatic transmission.

Hence the reason for the introduction of this 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, which produces maximum power and torque outputs of 197bhp and 207lb ft respectively. Teamed with a six-speed manual gearbox, this version of the Cascada is capable of a 0-62mph sprint of 8.5sec.

Available in two trim levels, SE and Elite, equipment levels are generous, with features such as air-con, 18-inch alloys, a DAB tuner, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, rear parking sensors, an aux-in port and a USB connection all included.

Our test Cascada was a range-topping Elite model, which comes with additional kit that includes climate control, heated electric sports seats with leather trim and automatic lights and wipers.

The test car also rode on 19in five-spoke alloys (a £500 option), and included other options that swelled the on-the-road price of £28,310 up to £32,520.

What's it like?

Pulling away from a standstill, the new 1.6-litre turbocharged unit doesn’t initially impress with its acceleration, which isn’t surprising given the weight that it is being asked to pull.

Contributing to that are the cross-underbody strengthening elements and high-strength, reinforced A-pillars that give the Cascada commendable levels of torsional stiffness.

Once you’re on the move, however, the engine is flexible, free-revving and enjoyable to use. It’s extremely smooth, which makes it very well suited to a car where luxury and comfort are higher on the list of priorities than out-and-out performance.

The new powerplant doesn’t emit a particularly exciting note, although that’s only a disadvantage if you expect your top-down motoring to be accompanied by a stirring aural symphony.

The Cascada, which is fitted with Vauxhall’s sophisticated HiPerStrut front suspension, is fairly well composed on most types of road. It is devoid of wallowing during cornering, although the weight can be evident under heavy braking.

Don’t expect a purposeful sporting drive – even with the extra power provided by the 1.6-litre turbo, the focus is still firmly on providing a relaxed gait. The ride on our car’s optional 19in wheels could be occasionally jarring at slow speeds but was otherwise very comfortable.

The Cascada doesn’t feel compromised in the way that some drop-top cars do, with no sign of chassis vibration, enhancing its cruising credentials.

The dual-layered fabric roof can be automatically lowered in 17.0sec, raised again in 19.0sec, both at speeds of up to 30mph. The roof’s mechanism is quiet during its operation and the whole lot is stowed flush with the bodywork behind the rear seats.

When the roof is stowed, buffeting and wind noise are mild but not intrusive at speeds up to 60mph, even without the supplied wind deflector in place.

With the roof up, the Cascada's cabin is adequately insulated from both the elements and noise. Second row headroom’s a little limited when the hood is in place, but both leg and headroom are good enough for large teenagers and smallish adults.

On the whole, the cabin pulls off the stylish feel you’d expect from a car designed for swanning about with the roof down.

It has comfortable leather seats that offer plenty of adjustment and stitched leather on the steering wheel and dashboard. However, the centre console, which is plucked straight from the Astra, looks a little incongruous.

It is comparatively spacious, just about accommodating four adults without demanding uncomfortable contortions from those trying to access the rear seats, and offering up to 380 litres of luggage space into the bargain.

Exploiting the boot space can be a challenge due to the awkward shape of the opening, which is quite narrow due to the space taken up by the folding roof and associated mechanism.

The roof also impinges on rearward visibility, because when it is in place the rear ‘window’ is uselessly narrow, which can be awkward in a car of 4696mm in length.

Should I buy one?

Badge snobs might still turn up their noses at the prospect of cruising along the English Riviera in a Griffin-branded cabriolet, but the Vauxhall Cascada has some strong selling points, not least its usability and touches of practicality.

Now it has another, because this 1.6-litre turbo engine is the pick of the range for low-mileage, luxury-minded motorists who don’t need the attendant frugality of a diesel.

At £28,310, this variant doesn’t hold quite as much price appeal as cheaper variants, which can be had for almost £5000 less. However, even with the extras sported by our test car taken into account, the price is on a par with entry-level A5 cabriolets.

The challenge for Vauxhall remains convincing prospective buyers that the Cascada possesses sufficient cachet compared to premium rivals.

Vauxhall's Cascada isn’t game-changing enough to break down that prejudice on its own, although it does prove that Vauxhall can make distinctive, desirable cars packed with clever engineering. 

The sensible head would suggest that the Cascada deserves serious consideration, but since when are cabriolet purchases made with the sensible head?

Vauxhall Cascada Elite 1.6i

Price £28,310; 0-60mph 8.5sec; Top speed 146mph; Economy 42.2mpg; CO2 158g/km; Kerb weight 1658kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1598cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 197bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 207lb ft at 1650-3500rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual 

Join the debate

Comments
33

20 May 2014
my god, surely this is an audi a3 cabriolet competitor. who would buy something so shamelessly s**t.

20 May 2014
I'm a shameless car spotter, even for normal stuff.... I have NEVER seen one. So to answer "who would buy something so shamelessly shit. " Not many people at all.

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20 May 2014
And it's not a bad looking car tbh.

Would I buy one? Not a chance!

It may be £5k less than its competitors but it's value after 3 years compaired to an A5, Eos, 1 Series will be much smaller still.

May make a great used bargain, if you could find one.

As for me, my £28k would go on a used Boxster/new MX5 for fun and a new Panda for everything else.

20 May 2014
Did Vauxhall acquire the name when Lotus was owned by Vauxhall - or has Lotus been reduced to selling off its nameplates to generate a bit of extra income, I wonder?
Anyway, it's an Astra convertible isn't it, so why bother with a new name.

20 May 2014
Think of all the cars - new or used - that are roughly a million times better than this overpriced mass produced load of cobblers. This marks anyone who has bought one as someone who fritters money away on a wave of ignorance.


20 May 2014
Although based on the Astra, the Cascada is in the next class up compared to the previous Astra Twin Top so it's taking on the likes of the A5 and 4 Series convertibles. Which means the Vaxuhall has no chance, especially at that price. When will mainstream manufacturers start to realise, in the UK at least, that very few people will buy a mainstream badge for a certain type of car and price range. Did Vauxhall look at the other mainstream lot and wonder why Ford, Citroen, Peugeot, Nissan, Toyota etc don't offer a coupe or a convertible in this class in the UK, even Europe? Or are they deluded in to thinking the Vauxhall badge is on a par with and as desirable Audi and BMW?

20 May 2014
I do not have a problem with Vauxhall as I do like the Insignia and Astra (the top models to be honest). I quite like this but I have never seen one and there is no way I would pay close to 30K for a 1.6 engined car. Vastly overpriced for what it is. They say it's not a direct Astra Twintop replacement and they may be half right, but there are a lot of similarities with the smaller car and pricing it the way they have will not help matters

20 May 2014
averageman wrote:

I quite like this but I have never seen one and there is no way I would pay close to 30K for a 1.6 engined car. Vastly overpriced for what it is. s

People really need to realise that this is 2014! it might have only 1.6 litres but has the bhp of some 3.0 V6 engines from not so long ago.

Judging a car on cubic capacity is not relevant anymore.

20 May 2014
paul896 wrote:
averageman wrote:

I quite like this but I have never seen one and there is no way I would pay close to 30K for a 1.6 engined car. Vastly overpriced for what it is. s

People really need to realise that this is 2014! it might have only 1.6 litres but has the bhp of some 3.0 V6 engines from not so long ago.

Judging a car on cubic capacity is not relevant anymore.

I agree up to a point. Actually, I applaud the honesty of Vauxhall here compared with the 'smoke and mirrors' of BMW in particular, although I fear it is doomed to failure. That nice BMW 328 - a 2.0 litre.

Where I disagree is:
1) The so-called improved fuel economy of these new downsized engines is largely illusory unless you drive them like there's an egg between your foot and the accelerator pedal.
2) The power may be similar, but the feel and sound are quite different. Most people won't care, but this *is* Autocar.

20 May 2014
Unlike many posters i have seen a few, maybe 4. But i cant imagine seeing many. Why has Vauxhall shot its self in the foot by pricing it so high. Forget the name, its a soft top Astra, and needs to be cheaper than the soft top Golf, nearer the price of the 308CC, which would make its list price much lower.

And although this 1.6 is obviously better than the 1.4 (what were they thinking, it weighs nearly 2 tons), it needs far more grunt.

I imagine its a decent car, with the right engine, at the right price. This car has neither

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