£26,865 - £34,135 Price range
37 - 57 MPG
Vauxhall will tell you its Cascada convertible is a rival for the Audi A5 Cabriolet – at least, this is what Vauxhall will say to you.
Judging by the reviews, this is wishful thinking, but that isn’t intended to take anything away from the Cascada, which tries hard at many things and succeeds in many ways.
Unfortunately for Vauxhall, its image isn’t anything like that of Audi’s carefully cultivated air of importance, and while the Cascada is actually a thoroughly decent product, it’s neither as polished as the Audi nor as exciting as a proper sports car.
It remains to be seen whether Vauxhall can make a mark in a segment that few other manufacturers are interested in these days.
The Cascada’s biggest playing card is practicality, and it starts by providing a pretty decent level of interior space for four people plus 380 litres of boot space for their luggage.
That puts it firmly in line with its rival the A5 and a step ahead of some hatchback-based convertibles that tend to be down on rear legroom.
The interior as a whole is likeable, though nothing special. Critics say that it’s very functional and has a lot of equipment, although it’s not particularly inspiring, and the large pillars can cause a bit of a visual hindrance.
Quality is typical of Vauxhall these days, in other words not at all bad, but you don’t quite get the attention to detail you would in alternative premium options.
The Cascada is unbelievably heavy – some models top the scales at just under two metric tonnes!
With that sort of mass to lug about it’s far from a sports car, but it has surprised some testers who have noted that it handles rather well.
The chassis provides a fairly supple ride quality and the steering is accurate, although it doesn’t provide that much feedback and has been described as over-light.
The ‘FlexRide’ system is a near £800 optional extra, and it changes the chassis using different modes, Normal, Sport and Tour, but none of these really fix the steering. Critics say that the Sport mode can make the steering a little heavier but not enough to justify the price.
Wind noise is fairly low, making motorway drives fairly relaxing, though this is countered by poor refinement from some of the engines.
There are five engines to choose from, and the Cascada’s choice of powerplants is fairly easy to follow.
Petrol options include a turbo-charged 1.4-litre unit producing 138hp and a 1.6 turbo petrol in two states of tune, one putting out 168hp and the other nearly 200hp. The 1.4-litre can only be chosen coupled to a manual gearbox, whereas the larger unit only has a six-speed automatic.
The 2.0-litre diesel engine is also available in two states of tune, one that has 163hp and another that has 193hp.
Experts have only played around with the lower-powered models, and unsurprisingly none are quite as quick as you’d expect given the power outputs, thanks to the Cascada’s weighty body.
Both petrols are refined down the lower end of the tachometer but begin to get vocal under harder acceleration – though the 1.6 will reward you with the most performance.
The lower-powered diesel idles a little noisily, but is quieter on the move. The power band is narrow, but it has some decent grunt mid-range, and would probably be the pick of the engine range if it didn’t have a rather hefty price tag. Despite the near two-tonne weight of the car, it can achieve over 50mpg.
By strapping a turbocharger to the 1.4-litre unit the 1.4T develops around 140 horses and reaches 60 mph in about 10 seconds. The review says it "suits the car's laid-back character", being smooth and eager at low revs. It does get a bit more buzzy at higher revs though, so you're better off cruising around and appreciating the respectable mid-40s fuel economy.
It doesn't fare too badly - positive description ranges from "quiet and smooth" and "hushed" to "a stout low-down lugger". Despite the power output though it still feels a little slow for some - "a long way from spectacular" as one reviewer puts it. It's auto only (the 197-horse car is manual) and long ratios scupper its performance a little, barely a second quicker than the smaller 1.4 model. Like that car though, it's a good cruiser.
The engine's torque peak is available over a fairly narrow band and the car's prodigious weight - nearly two metric tonnes - limits performance, at 9.6 seconds to 60. It's better at a cruise, with good mid-range thrust and greater refinement. One tester suggests the auto gearbox (£1,520) is worth a look, as it suits the car's character better than the notchy manual. Combined economy drops from 54.3 to 45.6 mpg, though.
The Vauxhall Cascada has not yet been tested by Euro NCAP, but the results are expected to be five stars.
They have four airbags as standard, stability control, two Isofix child-seat fittings in the rear and pre-tensioners are fitted to all seatbelts.
There is a lot of extra kit available with the Cascada to reassure you further, such as a hill start assist system, a warning light that appears in the wing mirror if the car detects another vehicle in the Cascada’s blind spot, and a system that warns the driver if they weave between lanes.
Cost is mentioned in several reviews, and in some respects Vauxhall’s targeting of the Audi A5 Cabriolet isn’t far off the mark – one review tested a diesel model that had been option-listed up to an eye-watering £34,000.
Prices do start at a more acceptable £24,000 with the 1.4-litre engine, and you can go easy on the options boxes as equipment levels are decent, but that hefty weight will cripple real-world economy so it’s not likely to be that cheap to run, and it doesn’t really compete with the A5 at that level.
Predicted residuals are expected to be fairly poor. This is mostly to due with the badge affixed to the bonnet – the Vauxhall badge isn’t seen as particularly desirable, even if the product is, in this case, not too shabby.
Contrary to expectations, the Cascada is actually a soft-topped convertible, rather than the hard-top vogue.
Testers say it looks best with that roof stowed though, which is something we’d agree with, and without a doubt, it’s certainly one of the better-looking Vauxhalls on the roads.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with the Cascada and indeed a few testers say that it marks a turning point for Vauxhall. The Cascada isn’t ground-breaking but it’s a good product and shows Vauxhall is capable of honouring its upmarket aspirations.
It’s just a pity it’s so heavy and suffers a bit of an image problem – if Vauxhall could inject a bit more sportiness into the engines and turn its image around, the Audi A5 cabriolet would be seen as a serious rival rather than a more distant aspiration.