The Vauxhall Cascada is a new four-seat convertible that's designed to compete with the likes of the VW Golf Cabriolet.
The drop-top has a fabric roof, rather than a folding metal hard-top, and is the first car to get Vauxhall's all-new 168bhp 1.6 turbo petrol engine, which is linked to an automatic gearbox as standard.
There's also a 138bhp 1.4 turbo petrol and a 163bhp 2.0-litre diesel. The entry-level petrol is available only with a manual gearbox, while the diesel can be had with an auto if required.
A 192bhp 2.0 Biturbo diesel will join the range later this year.
What's the 2013 Vauxhall Cascada like inside?
There's loads of room and adjustment for drivers of all sizes and the Cascada will seat four adults with ease, provided those in the rear aren't six-footers. Taller passengers will find their head and knees pressed against encroaching cabin parts.
Access to the two individual rear seats is as easy as it will ever be in a convertible, thanks to long doors and front seats that fold and slide with a single lever pull – they return to their original position just as easily.
The boot is usefully big, too. There's 380 litres of space with the roof up (280 with it down) and the rear seats fold to allow longer items to be carried. It's even possible to squeeze in bulky items such as Golf clubs, although the narrow boot opening makes this rather difficult.
Every Cascada gets a leather-trimmed dashboard with contrasting stitching, which combines with piano black or metal highlights to make the cabin feel very classy.
The switchgear is typically Vauxhall, with a button-heavy array on the centre console and a rotary controller to navigate around the various infotainment functions.
Visibility isn't great – even by soft-top standards. The steeply raked windscreen pillars create large blind spots at junctions, while over-the-shoulder visibility is limited by the high, letterbox-shaped rear screen.
There are two trims – SE and Elite. SE models feature 18-inch alloys, air-con, a DAB radio, a USB socket, rear parking sensors and cruise control. You also get four airbags and active rollover bars, which pop up to protect occupants if the car rolls.
Range-topping Elite trim adds climate control, automatic lights and wipers, heated leather seats, a wind deflector, a heated steering wheel and a colour display for the infotainment system. Disappointingly, though, Bluetooth costs an extra £220.
What's the 2013 Vauxhall Cascada like to drive?
The all-new 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine is quiet and willing to rev hard without becoming harsh, although our European test car was fitted with a manual gearbox, which won’t be available on UK versions.
Even in manual guise and with a healthy 168bhp, the engine feels somewhat overburdened by the Cascada's 1.7-tonne bulk and never qualifies as quick or responsive.
The weight of the car is more of a problem in the 1.4. You'll be working the notchy gearbox seriously hard to achieve any decent pace, although if you don't mind sedate progress the smaller engine moves the Cascada along in a quiet and calm fashion.
Our favourite engine is the 2.0-litre diesel. You forgive the gruff engine note in return for the muscular mid-range surge, which gives the Cascada impressive real-world acceleration.
All of our test cars came fitted with optional adaptive suspension (£790) and rode comfortably – even on optional bigger wheels. The Cascada soaks up imperfections with little fuss, while bigger breaks in the surface cause only minimal thumping, regardless of which of the three suspension settings you select.
This, together with good body rigidity, helps keep shuddering and flexing to a minimum and makes the Cascada more settled and pliant than most big convertibles. We'll have to wait to see how it copes on standard suspension on the UK's bumpier roads.
Handling is unexceptional but secure. There's lots of grip, not too much body roll and the steering is weighty, although it does have a rubbery, over-aggressive self-centring action. The Cascada is a stable thing that's easy to drive smoothly and few will expect or want more.
Wind noise is particularly well suppressed with the roof up, although general traffic and road noise does intrude.
A more heavily insulated roof is available as a £300 option and is worth adding if you really value your peace and quiet. Regardless of material, the roof folds down in just 17 seconds and at up to 30mph.
Should I buy one?
The Cascada comes well equipped, but costs a bit more than an equivalent VW Golf Cabriolet, which might be smaller, but requires very little compromise in interior space or practicality. The VW is also sharper to drive, more economical and has a broader selection of engines.
However, if rear passenger space is a priority then the Cascada has the upper hand and you'll almost certainly get a hefty discount from your local Vauxhall dealer, helping to offset that high price.
If the added space and the sleek looks appeal, then the Cascada is unlikely to disappoint.
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Our reviews are based on hard data and thorough testing in the real world.
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