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Vauxhall Cascada

OPEN ELEGANCE (some text hidden)

By Jonathan Crouch

Vauxhall's Cascada is a large, elegant four-seater convertible for the price of a much smaller, less luxurious one. Jonathan Crouch tries it.

Ten Second Reviewword count: 57

Here's a premium product from a very mainstream brand. Vauxhall's Cascada is a proper four-seat convertible that would really worry the premium makers were it not for issues of badge equity. For those prepared to look beyond that, this car offers luxury cabriolet motoring and head-turning good looks without the usual lottery winners' pricetag. It's surprisingly desirable.

Backgroundword count: 193

If you've ever owned an affordably priced convertible, then you'll know that cars of this kind come with one major problem: you can't comfortably fit adult passengers in the back over any real distance. That's because models of this sort are largely based on Focus-sized family hatchbacks that are compact to start with and become even more so at the rear once you have to find space for a bulky hood. Cabriolets based on larger, more prestigious designs do better, but they're expensive. You'd think then, that there'd be a gap in the market here - and you'd be right. Here's the car that fills it - Vauxhall's Cascada. This, the Griffin brand is at pains to emphasise, is a significantly bigger proposition than the small convertibles it's directly priced against, cars like the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet and the Peugeot 308CC. Sure enough, there's a wheelbase closely matched to Vauxhall's large medium range Insignia model and a body length that actually exceeds that of an Audi A5 Cabriolet from the next class up, a far pricier drop-top that the marketeers behind this car would like to think was a credible rival. Let's see.

Driving Experienceword count: 270

From the moment you take a seat and set off in this car, it's clear that this is a luxury convertible first and foremost, rather than any kind of low-slung roadster. But that doesn't mean it can't be dynamically adept. Indeed it must be if Vauxhall's pretensions of tilting at the up-market German brands are to be credibly realised. That's why the spec sheet promises HiPerStrut suspension from the 170mph Insignia VXR. And the FlexRide adaptive damping system that does so much to make the brand's Astra VXR such a credibly competitive hot hatch. Here though, this technology is there to dynamically improve a very different kind of car, over two tonnes in weight and lacking the kind of fixed roof that would normally be key to structural rigidity. It could have all produced a rather disastrous result, had this Cascada been simply a convertible spin-off from an ordinary Vauxhall hatch, as was its direct Astra Twin Top predecessor. But it isn't. This, in contrast, is the first time the brand has properly designed and purpose-built a open-topped car from scratch since the early 1930s. They've done the job properly. Under the bonnet, Vauxhall has wheeled out the best it has in terms of current engine technology, including an all-new 1.6-litre SIDI (or 'Spark Ignition Direct Injection') petrol unit that offers 170PS when mated to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. If that's not fast enough, you can also ask your dealer about a 200PS manual gearbox version. There's also an entry-level 140PS 1.4-litre petrol turbo unit and two 2.0 CDTi diesels, one with 165PS and a minority interest 195PS Bi-Turbo version.

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Category: Convertibles

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